If the park, pool or trip to the shops just won’t cut it this weekend, add a trip to one of these child-friendly theme parks to your diary. Just remember the energy-boosting snacks – for you, too! For more great ideas, check out our guide to the Best Toddler Days Out.
Best theme parks for small children:
Alton Towers, StaffordshireThe park has just opened a CBeebies Land, where children can learn and play with the likes of Postman Pat, Tree Fu Tom, Mike The Knight and Igglepiggle. There’s also a Something Special Sensory Garden, a woodland trail designed for little ones with varied learning abilities.
Paultons Park, HampshireHome to Peppa Pig World (yep, that exists *toddlers go crazy*) with rides, play areas and exhibitions all based around everyone’s favourite pink pig. Make a weekend of it with one of the package deals – local accommodation, breakfast and a free second day at the park.
Legoland, WindsorWith attractions you’ll love (check out Miniland – it uses nearly 40 million Lego pieces to recreate US and European scenes) and loads for young children, this is an ah-mazing day out. Toddlers will enjoy the DUPLO Valley play area, and over-threes can try for their first driving license in electric Lego-style cars.
Chessington World Of Adventures, SurreyIf it’s animals you’re after, Chessington has a zoo and Sea Life Centre as well as an epic theme park. With plenty of rides for grown-ups and young kids (our favourite’s always been the magical Bubble Works), there’s also a Madagascar Live show for King Julien/penguin/Alex fans.
Drayton Manor, StaffordshireIf your child’s more of a Thomas than a Peppa fan, try Drayton Manor’s Thomas Land – trains, playgrounds, an exhibition and all the characters. Another park with a zoo, plus rides including Ben 10 Ultimate Mission.
Pleasurewood Hills, SuffolkThis park’s Kiddie Zone boasts flying elephants, a mini pirate ship and carousel-style ponies you can ride around a track. Parrot and sea lion shows will go down well with everyone, too.
Lightwater Valley, YorkshireMini theme parkers can enjoy tractor rides around a farm, swan pedal boats and giant tea cup spins, as well as another Angry Birds park.
Landmark Forest Adventure Park, Inverness-shireWith an outdoorsy, nature theme, this Scottish park is all about being active – so think trails, climbing walls and play areas. Then psyche yourself out with the weird and wonderful illusions in the Bamboozeleum section.
Sundown Adventure Land, NottinghamshireThis whole park is designed for under-10s, so the nice thing is that the rides are OK for all ages. From pirate-themed sand pits to indoor and outdoor play areas, there’s plenty to keep little ones active.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, LancashireWelcome to the home of Nickelodeon Land. The ultimate venue for Nick fans, this has 12 rides including Spongebob Splash Bash, Rugrats Lost River and Dora’s World Voyage.
Diggerland, Devon/Durham/Kent/YorkshireMini aspiring builders will be in their element here – Diggerland lets you drive actual construction machines (under supervision, obvs). Yes, really! There are also play areas, sand pits and rides for really little ones.
Thorpe Park, SurreyOK, so this place has some seriously incredible rollercoasters if that’s your thing (Stealth, Saw – The Ride…), and it’s also just opened Angry Birds Land with a 4D experience. There’s a big water area with slides and paddling space if the weather’s nice.
Oakwood Theme Park, PembrokeshireThis park in south Wales has lots of family rides, as well as Circus Land for under-eights with pedal go-karts and a carousel. Plus, for hardcore thrillseekers, its Megafobia wooden rollercoaster has been voted the best in the UK and the third best in the world.
M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park, MotherwellIn addition to rides, this offers bowling, mini golf and a tropical rainforest section full of animals. There’s also a ma-hoosive soft play area (ear plugs at the ready…).
Crealy Great Adventure Park, DevonCrealy has just launched its new Animal Keeper For A Day experience, where children can learn how to groom and ride ponies, care for rabbits and feed the meerkats. Other pre-school options include a Wild West fort and junior grand prix. There’s also a Crealy in Cornwall. Heading further afield this summer? These toddler flight experiences may be on the cards.
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