Lightwater Valley is a theme park near Ripon in North Yorkshire, England. It is only eight miles from junction 50 on the A1 and less than 75 miles from Newcastle. When an invitation arrived inviting My Boys Club to review the theme park, it was an invitation we were not going to turn down and the hope of a great family day out in Yorkshire awaited us.
I didn't know this until this week but Lightwater Valley is best known for being the home of Europe’s longest rollercoaster - The Ultimate. More about the rollercoaster later.
We left Newcastle at about 8.15 am and arrived at Lightwater Valley just before 10 am. Parking is free and the car park opens at 9.40 am. Gates and fairground rides, as well as the Angry Birds Activity Park open at 10 am and the bigger rides open at 10.30 am. On the day we went the park closed at 5 pm. Maps are available to pick up as you enter.
In the car, I'd given the boys downloaded copies of the theme park map for them to choose the rides they wanted to go on most. When we arrived after a quick toilet stop we headed straight for the Angry Birds Activity Park. Me and hubby enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee and the boys had a great time with TNT, Red, Bad Piggies in a really fun looking adventure playground.
Angry Birds Activity Park
This was so much better than I'd even thought it would be. I'd seen photographs, read blogs and looked at the Lightwater Valley website but it is not until you are actually there that you see how amazing it is. It caught the boys imagination so much. It was like they were playing in their own game of Angry Birds. There is an outdoor and indoor section - really handy I imagine if you happen to visit on a rainy day.
There are also screens around the park where you can play the actual games too.
I honestly think that if there had only been the Angry Birds Activity Park and Space Centre the boys would have been happy enough for the entire day. However, it was time to explore further and discover their favourite rides.
The Rides and Attractions
Rides and attractions are separated into three groups - Mini Adventures, Mega Adventures and Ultimate Adventures. I like that they are not located in different areas in the park, meaning that if you have a family with different age groups you don't have to separate and instead you can keep all of your family members or group entertained at once.
Mini Adventures are perfect for younger visitors aged 1-5 and under 1m in height, but many of them can also be enjoyed by older visitors too. The Angry Birds Activity Park, Swan Pedal Boats, Express Train, Eagle Creek Farm and the Falconry centre for example.
Mega Adventures are aimed at those aged 5 to 9 years old and over 1m in height. These include some more tummy tickling and thrilling rides such as the Flying Cutlass and Falls of Terror - all good for a family to enjoy together too.
Ultimate Adventures are more hair-raising and challenging and more suitable for over nines and those over 1.2m in height - although those between 1.2m & 1.5m may need to be accompanied by an adult on some rides. Ultimate Adventures include The Eagles Claw and Twister as well as The Ultimate.
The Family Day Out
After a ride on the Carousel, a traditional fairground ride where you sit aboard a horse that goes up and down as the ride goes round and round, we took the Lightwater Express Train early in the day. It goes around the boating lake and through part of the theme park. The boys were able to see some of the rides they would ride later on.
We could have got off near to The Ultimate but the boys wanted to complete a full circuit. Next to the station is also the Skyrider but the boys didn't fancy this one yet.
We then walked back to towards The Ultimate on the way stopping to enjoy a few rides. We all went on The Flying Cutlass. I don't think the boys really knew what they were letting themselves in for and it was definitely a tummy tickling adventure for them to say the least! But not to deterred they then enjoyed slightly gentler rides of The Pirate Swinger and Skull Rock, Little Dipper, Ladybird, Vintage Car Rally, and mini Ferris Wheel.
They both really enjoyed the Little Dipper roller coaster but it was a very short ride. We were lucky in that we really didn't encounter any queues during our day, except for The Ultimate, but if we had queued I'd have liked a longer ride. The eldest then braved the Ladybird rollercoaster. A great introduction to the roller coasting world - the Ladybird dips, twists and turns its way around the track.
The roller coaster experience wasn't enough to entice either of my boys onto The Ultimate so hubby went on this ride alone. A thrill seeker in his younger days he has tried out a fair few roller-coasters and this one indeed hit the right spot for him. He said it was fast and fun, with lots of twists and turns - a proper rollercoaster is how he described the longest roller coaster in Europe. We had been given Q jumper tickets and even using one on this ride, the wait was still over half-an-hour but the ticket does guarantee you the back seat. I think the roller coaster is very popular.
Next to The Ultimate was Apollo. Operating at 80ft above the ground where I imagine the views from this two-seater suspended swing ride are spectacular. This ride is the one I would choose - but I'll just have to wait until the boys are a little older and less scared of heights. At the moment they are more than happy with the ground version!
Walking back towards the entrance the boys then jumped around a bit on Jumping Jacks - a huge bouncy pillow - before winding our way along to Eagle Farm Creek. A really sweet tractor ride through a real farmyard. From the tractor, you can see goats, sheep, newborn lambs, pigs and shetland ponies.
Next to this ride is the Eagles Claw and Trauma Tower - but after a little hesitation, the boys thought they'd leave these rides until they were older. They are planning to return!
We then went back to the Angry Birds Activity Park for another play; tried out some of the smaller rides; went into the indoor soft play, explored the Falconry Centre, where you'll find over 35 amazing raptors including Owls, Falcons, Eagles and Hawks (there are also Rheas, snakes, rabbits and an inquisitive Ferret family) and daily flying shows; before heading over to the Water Slide 'Falls of Terror' before having to leave the park.
The favourite ride for my eldest boy (age 9) was the water slide also known as the Falls of Terror. He says they are really good fun. You just get a little bit wet, but we did leave this ride until the end of the day in case we got wetter. There are three slides and he enjoyed the twisty tubes the best but said that they were all fun. Hubby got to enjoy this one too as you need two people to go on the ride together. They sit in a dinghy and when you are ready you are set off downwards.
In retrospect, he says he also enjoyed the Flying Cutlass. He says it was scary but fun and that his tummy went woosh lots of times.
My youngest (aged 7) loved the Eagle Creek Farm ride the best. In fact, he enjoyed it that much that he went on this ride at least 5 times, maybe more.
Where to Eat?
On days out we would usually take a picnic but as we had been offered lunch by Lightwater Valley, we took advantage of not having to carry around a rucksack of food all day long. We all had meal deal vouchers and we ate in The Hungry Harbour cafe which we hit a very busy time. Although we got a table easily we did have to queue for about 45 mins to get our food. Having said that with meal deals from £6.95 it's not as expensive as I thought it may be. There is also a Family Meal Deal available with two adult meals and two children's meals for £20.
The boys chose a slice of Pepperoni Pizza with Chips and a bottle of water and a fruit drink. Both me and hubby opted for the fish and chips with a coffee. Hubby's came with mushy peas and mine with curry sauce.
It was really nice to have a hot meal as it was only April being outdoors all day can get a little cold even though the sun did keep making an appearance in the morning at least.
Later on in the day, we enjoyed an ice-cream from Eagle Bites in the fairground where you can choose from 22 flavours of Kelly's ice cream. The ice cream was really delicious - after much deliberation and the offer of tasting some to help our decision making, we chose candy floss, rocky road, and butterscotch and pecan flavours but all of the 22 sounded so nice and there were so many other flavours we wanted to choose too.
As well as the rides and attractions, right around the theme park, you'll find lots of toilets blocks, refreshment stalls, souvenir shops, and food outlets as well as picnic areas as well as staff on hand to answer any queries. There are also many sideshows and coin operated activities so make sure you have plenty of change on you.
As well as the theme park there is Jurassic Crazy Golf and TreeTops Nets which are not included in the admission price.
During April the Black Pearl, The Flying Nellies and Wild River Rapids were not open but there was still plenty to do. We arrived before 10 am and didn't leave until 5 pm - a fun packed family day was had by all!
Lightwater Valley is open throughout the Easter Holidays, then weekends until the May Bank Holiday week after which it is open every day until the end of the school holidays, weekends only in September and October apart from the October holiday week when it is again open every day.
If you book online you save money (typically 30%) and there is an Easter deal of entry for £15 for anyone over 1m in height if you use the code EASTER15.
Have you been to Lightwater Valley?
Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets and food vouchers in reutrn for an honest review.
Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets and food vouchers in reutrn for an honest review.