From leg-wobbling heights to stomach-churning loop-de-loops, the UK has some of the best roller coasters and theme parks in the world. They’ve become synonymous with the Great British day out, so much so that you can find them in almost any area of the country. Come rain or shine, we’re always up for some thrills and spills.
Whether you’re searching for that adrenaline rush on the UK’s biggest rollercoaster or the enjoyment of seeing the kids getting soaked on some rapids, Britain’s theme parks have it all. Here are the best theme parks in the UK.
Alton Towers - Staffordshire
Home to two of the country’s most infamous roller coasters – Nemesis and Oblivion – Alton Towers is the UK’s largest theme park. What makes it so successful is its perfect blend of terrifyingly fast rides and family-friendly attractions. You can hit speeds of close to 100km/h on Rita or take a trip on Gansta Granny: The Ride in the same park, making it the perfect day out with both friends and family. And it isn’t afraid to shake things up by introducing modern and nostalgic rides, either; Galactica takes you on a virtual reality ride through space while The Wicker Man is the first wooden roller coaster built in the UK in over 20 years.
Must-do ride: They may be over 30 years old, but both Nemesis and Oblivion are the favourites in our book.
Thorpe Park - Surrey
With white knuckle rides, roller coasters based on horror films and TV shows, and giant water chutes, Thorpe Park earns its place amongst the UK’s best theme parks. It’s home to some of the tallest, fastest, and scariest rides in Europe, making it an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. Stealth takes you from 0 to 130km/h in an eye-watering 1.9 seconds, whilst the 100 degrees (beyond vertical) drop of Saw - The Ride will have you riding until the park closes. If the allure of the big five – Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, SAW, Stealth, and The Swarm – isn’t enough, you’re planning the wrong day out.
How to get there: Staines is the closest train station, and you can reach the park by taking the 950 Express Bus every 15-20 minutes.
Must-do ride: Standing 98 feet tall and with ten loops, Colossus sits proudly amongst the top ten roller coasters with the most inversions worldwide.
Chessington World of Adventures - Surrey
Chessington World of Adventures is by far one of the most complete theme parks in the UK, with over 40 rides and attractions packed into part a theme park, zoo, and sea life centre. The bigger kids can enjoy light-hearted thrills on Vampire and Croc Drop – perfect for building them up to the adult rides in Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. Attractions like the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure and Tomb Blaster are suitable for children of all ages, providing a story-telling experience within a ride. Spanning across ten lands all of different themes – Wild Asia, Land of the Tiger, and Pirates’ Cove, to name a few – Chessington is the perfect adventure day out for the whole family.
How to get there: Chessington South Station is only a ten-minute walk from the park, with regular services running to and from several London stations.
Must-do ride: Suitable for anyone over 1.2 metres tall, Dragon’s Fury provides dizzying twists and turns that are ideal for a first roller coaster experience.
Drayton Manor - Staffordshire
It may be smaller and lesser known than the big three UK theme parks, but Drayton Manor is by no means less thrilling. Adults can take a stand (literally) against The Shockwave, Europe’s only stand-up rollercoaster, and Apocalypse, for which the name says it all. Thomas Land, a recent £2.5 million addition to the park, is a 6,000 square metre area of Thomas the Tank Engine fun in which children can live out their favourite cartoon, while the Dino Trail will take them back to a scary world over 65 million years ago. With over 100 rides and attractions as well as a 5-acre zoo, you’re bound to have fun with the whole family.
How to get there: From Birmingham New Street, take a CrossCountry train to Tamworth followed by a short ten-minute bus to Drayton Manor.
Must-do ride: If you’re looking to fill a bucket list, why not ride Europe’s only standing roller coaster in Shockwave?
Legoland Windsor – Berkshire
What do you get when you cross rides with one of the world’s largest toy companies? The UK’s favourite kids’ theme park. Legoland has all the building blocks needed for a perfect family day out. From the LEGO City Driving School to LEGO NINJAGO The Ride, it brings the toys kids play with at home into a 150-acre adventure park. There are over 55 rides and attractions to enjoy, all spread out over 12 lands of different themes. Ride the rapids like our ancestors in the Land of the Vikings or hunt for ancient treasure in the Kingdom of the Pharaohs; Legoland has everything you dreamed of doing as a kid, plus more.
How to get there: Windsor & Eton Central is only a ten-minute walk from the park, with regular services running to and from several London stations.
Must-do ride: Miniland is an amazing model scene of landmarks around the world, including Europe and the USA, made from almost 40 million LEGO bricks.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Lancashire
Home to the UK’s tallest roller coaster and the first double-launch ride, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a must-visit for anyone looking for a high-speed, adrenaline-fueled experience. ICON and The Big One are iconic UK rollercoasters, attracting people from all over the country. But there’s much more to Pleasure Beach than white knuckle rides. Its 125 rides and attractions also include The Big Dipper and the Grand National – two rides which have stood since the 1930s – Nickelodeon land, and Wallace & Gromit: The Thrill-O-Matic. So, whether you’re preparing to be terrified with friends, taking the whole family for a day out, or just interested in seeing a piece of theme park history, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has something to offer.
How to get there: Blackpool is easy to get to from many stations, including Preston Railway Station and even Manchester Piccadilly. From there, Pleasure Beach is just a 15-minute walk.
Must-do ride: It would be easy to say ICON and The Big One, but we think travelling back to the 1930s with The Big Dipper and the Grand National is what Pleasure Beach is all about.
If you’re planning a trip to one of the UK’s best theme parks, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
Written by Julia