Day 6 – June 29
Honestly, today was the day around which this entire trip had been planned. Today was the day we were going to Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World. I’m not sure where we first heard about it, but once we did know it existed, Monki was determined to get us there. The park was about 20 minutes from where we’re staying and I was determined to get there early, like when the park opened, not having faith that it wouldn’t be crowded like Legoland was.
Up, breakfast eaten in the room (cereal for Monki and instant oatmeal for Rasa and me), and pre-made sandwiches packed into the backpack, we were off and parked (for free) at 10am, right when the park opened.
Naturally, it was a bit crowded, but that could be easily explained by the time and not the expected crowds, although we did see a number of color-coordinated school groups. We made it through the gates, picked up our pre-booked stroller (complete with steering wheel, as requested) and headed straight for Peppa Pig World.
As is common with almost all modern amusement parks, Paultons is divided into various “lands” or, in this case, “Themed Worlds,” amongst which Peppa Pig is only one. But for us it was the most important. As we entered the land, we immediately passed a notice board which listed the meet and greet times for Peppa and George (her little brother). The first was at 10:30, quite soon. As good parents, Rasa and I did the “divide and conquer” dance, with me taking Monki on her first ride of the day while Rasa got into the queue for pictures.
That first ride was Windy Castle, a vertically rotating version of the spinning tea cups. Basically, you sat in a “cloud” which you could spin along a central axis. This cloud was then lifted and rotated in a group of three like a Ferris Wheel, and the whole thing was then spun around a central pillar. Oh god, what was I thinking? Since both Monki and I suffer from motion sickness, this really didn’t seem like a great way to start the day. In fact, before it ended, Monki started having her “va-vay” feeling and wanted to know when it was going to stop. I was right there with her. Eventually, however, it did stop, and we went and joined Rasa in the photo-op line, providing a great and much needed recoup time.
Meeting Peppa and George was a definite highlight, I think. I’ve written before about our initial fear that Monki wouldn’t take to costumed figures but it was all good this time out! She had no problem running up and giving hugs and cuddles. I even got into the action when “Peppa” pointed to the multiple superhero pins on my jacket and gave me a big, enthusiastic thumbs up. Comics have fans everywhere!
Pictures in camera, and, looking back at the line of people who would follow us for the meet and greet, happy we had done it early, we were free to explore the remaining sights and sounds of Peppa Pig World. Next up was Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride, a simple in-air spinning ride. This was followed by Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight, a helicopter themed Ferris Wheel. All of these rides are based on various episodes of the show and Miss Rabbit flying a helicopter is a pretty big deal. In fact, Miss Rabbit does a lot of things, so many that they’ve written a whole song about it.
As we made our way through all of these rides, it became clear that the park was not nearly as busy as Legoland had been. One of the things which helped here, and I have to make a big shout it to the folks who run this park, is that the park app, which lists wait times and various other bits of information, is fabulous. Even more so, Paultons Park has free wifi from the moment you enter so you can take full advantage of said app. Legoland claims to offer a similar service but I could never get their wifi to work and it wasn’t worth roaming charges to try the app. So I could look at any point and see which queues were short and where we should go next to maximize our day. It helped SO much.
It also led us to give the The Queen’s Flying Coach Ride a go next. Like the People Mover, this is just a short, raised platform ride around a bit of the area. Unfortunately, while the app told us the line would be about 10 minutes, there were some technical delays as we waited. Nothing serious, but when we got to the front of the queue, I asked the elderly ride-operator if it was all sorted out.
“I wouldn’t be too optimistic,” he responded, laughing, as he put us into a ride vehicle.
This was also something we noticed about Paultons which I’m not sure I’d seen in any other parks. The ride operators were not exclusively high school or college kids. They weren’t even the majority. No, instead most of the ride operators seemed like pensioners, retired folks who were just having a good time. Like at our next ride, Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip, the ride operator was probably someone’s grandpa who was having fun talking to all the little kids, smiling and laughing and making them feel as if they were the most important riders ever. And he did this each time the ride changed passengers.
The ride itself was notable for the duck who would stand on the spokes which attached the boat ride vehicles to the central hub as they went around. The duck would swim from one spoke to the next between rides, then hold on and enjoy while the ride was in motion.
Of the remaining rides and attractions in Peppa Pig World, George’s Dinosaur Adventure needs to get a special mention as Monki was able to ride by herself and the look of pride on her face as she successfully navigated the exit to rejoin us was worth the price of admission.
Surprisingly, we finished this “world” in just a couple of hours, leaving us plenty of time to explore the rest of the park, starting with Tornado Springs. It’s funny, since Monki has been on a big tornado (especially fire tornado) kick recently, so all she wanted to know was if there were real tornados in the area. There weren’t. Instead, the land was based on a fictionalized Route 66 kind of place (“Set in a midwest desert resort town in the American heyday of the 1950s”).
The first thing we did…well, Monki and I…was ride the Windmill Towers. This is exactly the same as the Fire and Ice Freefall over at Legoland, but here, there was no line whatsoever. We literally walked right up and got on the ride (we were expecting at least a little bit of a delay and so I had to wrap the rest of my sandwich and put it in my bag so we could start). Again, Rasa just watched, afraid of the height. This “world” was home to two different roller coasters, the Farmyard Flyer and the Storm Chaser.
The Flyer is listed as a family ride, and that’s really what it felt like. A smaller coaster, with a couple of dips and twists, but nothing major. And it was so short, it actually goes around twice each ride-cycle. When it came to a stop, finally, Rasa had had enough and jumped out. But there was no one else in line so the ride operator said if we wanted to, we could stay on. Monki and I did. A couple more times around and we were good to go, too.
Storm Chaser, on the other hand, is not for kids. It’s a full-on coaster which I decided to go on by myself. Again, with almost no line, I was through the queue and off the ride almost before Rasa and Monki realized I was gone (not really, since I could wave to them as I was pulled up the initial hill).
Then it was time for Al’s Auto Academy. Like the driving school at Legoland, this was a self-driving free-for-all. There were a few differences, adults could ride with the kids if the kids weren’t big enough, and the pedals were slightly different, which meant Monki had to pay attention rather than rely on the skills she had learned on the previous ride, but otherwise it was the same. And let me tell you, Monki was all over it! There weren’t as many kids vying for the cars so she was able to make sure she got the color she wanted (blue) and once the ride started, she was off and running! Again, she paid attention to all the rules of the road, gave way when it was the right thing to do, and ultimately had a great time.
And again, Rasa and I were so impressed with her skill we just had to get her another laminated driver’s licence. We also had to explain that she really wasn’t allowed to drive a regular car just yet, even though she now had two licences saying she could.
The Cat-O-Pillar in Critter Creek was up next. Critter Creek seemed like an interesting “world.” The general conceit seemed to be a mad scientist had run amok and made all these wild and crazy creations. Unfortunately, only the roller coaster seemed to be operating the day we were there. As a family friendly coaster, it again went around multiple times and this one was A-OK for both Rasa and Monki. I rode with them the first time and let them go by themselves the next couple of times they went around.
The Lost Kingdom was next on our agenda, a “Jurassic Park” themed world, full of dinosaurs and exploding volcanos. To get there, though, we had to walk through an area of the park which was undeveloped for rides, but instead housed a small park area and a zoo. It also answered the question as to why the park itself was called Paultons: The site was the former home of Paultons Estate. Honestly, I think if one had bought a two-day pass (not really necessary, but…) this would be a great place to picnic and unwind during the day.
The only slow down we had here was Temple Heights, a spinny ride which made everyone queasy. But we followed it up with a dinosaur meet and greet! Yup, they brought a baby T-Rex to take pictures with. I took pictures but Monki was having none of it. I think it scared her a bit. Can’t really blame her, though, as one of my strongest memories from when I was her age was watching a version of “girl to gorilla” on the mezzanine level of Circus Circus. When that gorilla broke free of the cage, I remember I couldn’t get away fast enough, so her being a bit squeamish at a 7-foot dinosaur with sharp teeth seems pretty reasonable to me.
That said, she had no problem with the dinosaurs on The Dinosaur Tour Co., probably because those weren’t free-roaming critters. She liked that ride enough that when I went to go on one of the more adult coasters, Flight of the Pterosaur, she and Rasa went on the Tour again.
Leaving that “world” for a minute, we discovered Magma. Magma is similar to rides like Windmill Towers, but only tangentially. Instead of rising 10 meters, Magma lifts a good 25 meters into the air and then drops you down. Repeatedly. Monki saw this and desperately wanted to go on it. I agreed to go with her, but after one go, I was feeling a little bit shaky.
Monki wanted to go again. I would have done it, this is what you do for your kids, after all, but then Rasa said she’d do it. Rasa, who is scared of heights on small Ferris Wheels, was volunteering to get lifted 82 feet into the air and then dropped down. I double and triple checked with her to make sure it was okay. She insisted it was. Okay.
So I went on a nearby coaster, Cobra, and then returned to get them. They still weren’t done when I got back so my first thought was something had happened. I tried to look in on them but nothing seemed to be amiss. Soon enough, the ride vehicle rose out of the faux volcano and I could see my two girls sitting side by side. As the got higher, they could see me looking up at them. Monki looked down, gave me two huge thumbs up and a grin so wide you could bounce light off it to illuminate the park. Rasa, on the other hand, was clenching her teeth and holding on so tight I could see the white knuckles from 80 feet away!
Back on the ground, everything was okay, but for a while up there, it looked touch and go.
We came back into Lost World and tried out Dino Chase, another family friendly coaster. I think this was the favorite coaster for Rasa and Monki since they went on it about a dozen times. At one point, I left them to go and ride Velociraptor and even with a slight wait in line and the ride itself, I was still finished before they were.
By this time, it was getting late in the day and we were starting to repeat rides. Monki wanted to hit the Driving school again, as well as the Victorian Carousel (which we hadn’t done on our first pass). Then, while I was getting Rasa a banana and cream covered waffle (which she had been craving all day), they rode Trekking Tractors.
I figured we had maybe one ride left before the park closed and we had to turn in the stroller. So while Rasa ate, I grabbed Monki and asked her what she wanted to ride. She said “Grandpa Pig’s Boat Ride,” which I mistook for Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club (which we had also gone on earlier) but she quickly corrected me and we ran, climbing under the railing to get on the next go ‘round of the ride she wanted.
Coming off that, looking at my watch I guessed we could sneak in one more and she chose George’s Dinosaur Adventure again, which she thoroughly enjoyed!
After that, though, it really was time. So we grabbed Rasa and headed back towards the entrance. We definitely made full use of our day there and, honestly, it was so much better than Legoland there was almost no comparison.
Heading back towards home we stopped again at West Quay mall for dinner and a Marks & Spencer reprovisioning of supplies for the next day. Then Sean came by the hotel for a few hours of hanging out and chat in the lobby (which was wonderful). By the time he left, it was time for bed for everyone. Another long day awaited us.