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Best Theme Parks in the UK

Thursday 15 June 2023

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From leg-wobbling heights to stomach-churning loop-de-loops, the UK has some of the best rollercoasters and theme parks in the world. Adventure parks have 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 accompanied by candyfloss.

Whether you’re searching for that adrenaline rush on the UK’s biggest rollercoaster or the enjoyment of seeing the kids getting soaked on the rapids, Britain’s theme parks have it all. Join CrossCountry as we explore the best theme parks in the UK.

Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Home to more than forty rides, including Nemesis and Oblivion, Alton Towers is the biggest theme park in the UK. Located on a historical site, and open as a theme park since 1980, Alton Towers has long been one of the British public’s favourite theme parks for a fun-filled day out, with terrifyingly fast rides as well as family-friendly attractions.

Ride Rita for speeds of almost 100km/h or take a trip on their Gangsta Granny ride, all in the same park – whether you’re an adrenaline junky or a little adventurer, there is something for all the family to enjoy. Alton Towers is also great for their combination of modern and nostalgic rides; from Galactica’s virtual reality to the Wicker Man’s traditional wooden construction. 

Getting to Alton Towers by train:

Before you can ride the Runaway Mine Train, you can travel with CrossCountry to Stoke-on-Trent station. From here, you can find direct bus connections to Alton Towers.

Thorpe Park, Surrey

Packed full of white-knuckle rides, horror-inspired rollercoasters, and giant water flumes, Thorpe Park has truly earned its place amongst the UK’s best theme parks. It is home to some of the tallest, fastest, and scariest rides in Europe, making it a great destination for thrill-seekers. Stealth takes you from 0 to 130km/h in a hair-raising 1.9 seconds, while the beyond-vertical drop on SAW will have you getting in line again and again. If you’re not convinced, just check out their big five rides: Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, SAW, Stealth, and the Swarm.

Getting to Thorpe Park by train:

The closest train station to Thorpe Park is Staines station, from which you can reach the park by hopping on direct buses.

Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey

Rounding off the ‘big three’ theme parks in the UK is Chessington World of Adventures; by far one of the most complete adventure parks in the UK. Boasting over forty rides and attractions, along with a zoo and sea life centre, it really does have everything. The bigger kids can enjoy light-hearted thrills on Vampire and Croc Drop, while younger ones can have a great time on the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure and Tomb Blaster – suitable for all ages. Spanning across ten lands with different themes – Wild Asia, Land of the Tiger, and Shipwreck Coast to name a few – Chessington is the perfect day out for the whole family.

Getting to Chessington by train:

Chessington South station is located just ten minutes away from the theme park on foot, with regular services running to a range of stations.

Drayton Manor, Staffordshire

Smaller than the big three, but no less fun, is Drayton Manor, just outside of Birmingham. Adults can take a stand against the Shockwave, Europe’s only stand-up rollercoaster; and Thor, which combines fast-running coasters with a spinning platform! A big attraction for families with young children is that Drayton Manor is the home to Thomas Land – six-thousand square metres of Thomas the Tank Engine themed fun for children to experience life on the Isle of Sodor. From Harold’s Helicopter Tours to Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem, there are plenty of rides for Thomas fans. Throw in a five-acre zoo to explore, and you’ve got a great day out.

Getting to Drayton Manor by train:

Situated in Tamworth, you can get to Drayton Manor from Birmingham New Street station with a connecting train service.

Legoland Windsor, Berkshire

When it comes to planning the perfect kids’ day out, what could be better than a theme park based on one of the world’s favourite toys? Legoland has all the building blocks for a day of family fun. From the LEGO City Driving School to the Dragon, it brings LEGO to life in a 150-acre adventure park. There are more than fifty rides and attractions to enjoy, with rides for all age groups. Don’t forget to walk around Miniland; an amazing LEGO model of major landmarks from around the world featuring nearly 40 million LEGO bricks!

Getting to Legoland by train:

You can get to Legoland from Windsor & Eton Central station with a short walk.

Paulton’s Park, New Forest

You may not have heard of Paulton’s Park before, but you have definitely heard of Peppa Pig – and Paulton’s Park is home to Peppa Pig World! Located close to the New Forest in Hampshire, Paulton’s Park is a great addition to any itinerary on a family staycation. With hair-raising rides like the Cyclonator for older kids and grown-ups, and more chilled out fun in Peppa Pig world or on the Cat-O-Pilar Coaster, everyone is sure to have a great time. There are a handful of themed zones to explore as well as an adorable selection of reptiles, fish, mammals, and more in the Wild Lands area.

Getting to Paulton’s Park by train:

Paulton’s Park is located close to Southampton Central station, which you can reach from a wide range of CrossCountry stations. From here, you can get a direct bus to Paulton’s Park.

If you’re planning a trip to one of the best theme parks in the UK, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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