Top 5 UK Theme Parks You Should Visit This Year

Listen obviously I'm aware the parks are currently closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but if I'm anything I'm an optimist and I'm a trip planner so in the spirit of looking on the brighter side of things and trying to remain positive while we're all in lockdown I've been dreaming of life once we're out the other end of this madness and of course for me that means trips, trips and more trips - especially as there will be a lot of lost time to make up for!

This post has been on my to-do list for this year since before full blown Coronavirus madness so obviously that element will change the tone of what I'm getting at here but my original point was going to be this. As UK enthusiasts we're WELL aware of the constant underlying rumours of the latest non-chain park about to go under - from Drayton Manor apparently putting their flat rides up for sale to Lightwater Valley on the brink of bankruptcy for the umpteenth time in the past decade, it almost feels like our beloved UK parks are always teetering on the edge of ruin and it's my opinion that it's our job as enthusiasts, the one's who adore this industry and everything it has to offer from rich history to exciting and fun days out, to go out of our way to visit our home grown parks as much as we possibly are able this season in order to keep the amusement industry flourishing and thriving for generations to come. So with that in mind, here are five UK theme parks that I will be endeavouring to visit this season!

Firstly, I'm putting it on record that The Ultimate is the second best coaster this country has to offer. I often think of it as the UK's version of The Beast - everything about it points to the fact that it shouldn't really exist and yet there it sits, quietly in the Yorkshire countryside bruising and beating its riders half to death with every mile-and-a-half-long ride it completes. Also Raptor Attack is one of the best indoor coaster attractions we have here in the UK. What I'm getting at here is that Lightwater Valley has a LOT going for it in terms of providing a fun day out for families and thrillseekers alike, enough to want to protect it from closing forever for sure! The park has already had to close some classic rides forever like Toad Hole, the park's classic boat-on-a-rope splash boat attraction, and I'll be damned if I sit idly by for more unique attractions like this to fade away into the archives. So I'll be heading up to Yorkshire at some point to pay homage to the beastly behemoth that is The Ultimate and spend some quality time at this quaint, Northern park.

Owned by Groupe Looping who also operate European parks like Hellendoorn and Bagatelle, Pleasurewood Hills has spent the past few years really brushing off the cobwebs and tarting the place up. I've visited a handful of times of the years but it's pushing close to seven years now since my last visit to this East Anglian classic. With recent updates like the newly rebranded Eggs-press roller coaster the park has really been investing in updating the place and getting things looking shiny and new again in order to attract new visitors. So between that and jumping at the chance to head back to Great Yarmouth seafront and get stuck in to those amusements too it'd be rude not too - especially if this summer turns out as glorious as this spring has been so far!

It's been down on its luck in recent years has Drayton Manor - I remember my first visit to this park so vividly and how every attraction there took me by surprise with how it took traditional theme park attractions and completely subverted my expectations - it has a log flume but it goes BACKWARDS, it has a drop tower but it TILTS YOU, it has a roller coaster where you STAND UP, it has a waltzer IN THE DARK! Everything there seemed to go above and beyond what every other UK theme park at the time was offering and I absolutely adored my first time there. I've visited a bunch over the years, but between the tragic rapids accident and G-force having to be removed it seems the park has fallen on harder times with strong rumours flying around the community that the park are looking to sell off some of their remaining thrill rides including Maelstrom and Apocalypse (praying this is just an unfounded rumour!!) But yes, I'll be making an extra effort to ensure I get a visit or two in at Drayton Manor this year, especially in case the worst does come to fruition.

Look, given the current climate I will be VERY surprised if this park actually opens this year, but on the off chance it does you can be sure I'll be there to check it out. I have a weird relationship with the Gullivers parks to be honest with you and I'm always torn as to whether I should support them or not. I find it bizarre that a company who knows coaster enthusiasts exist who just want to pop in for the sweet, sweet credits refuses to allow them to visit without a child or without being made to feel like a criminal (those among you who have been marched cred to cred by security then escorted out know what I mean here!) but at the same time I am all for UK parks flourishing and with the addition of this new park to the company's roster one can only assume they're doing well so I'm happy to quash the weirdness and cheer them along as they celebrate opening day hopefully sometime later this year.

How the hell Fantasy Island managed to build and maintain such a gargantuan coaster like Odyssey is beyond me but hey, I'm not complaining! As it's quite a long distance away from me here in London and doesn't have quite the cult following that Pleasure Beach does I'm ashamed to say that Fantasy Island hasn't really had the attention from me it deserves. I've only ever visited the park on a cred run and never really spent any quality time just hanging out and soaking in the kitschy British seaside atmosphere of it all, which is something I'm keen to rectify this season. There's nothing as good for the soul as the fresh sea air, a piping hot plate of fish and chips and a mad cycle on a seafront amusement operated flat ride so it's top of my to do list once quarantine is over!

And there we have it, after just two days of being in lockdown suffice to say I'm struggling. As somebody who is used to going out every weekend and making plans to go out on the days inbetween I can't say this has been a great experience for me so far, but I'm well aware that it could be a lot worse and there are many others who have it much worse than me. So for now I'll keep my head down and keep dreaming of all the fab days out in 2020 there are to come.

Talk later xoxo,