I never thought I would take N to Peppa Pig World. But holidaying in the New Forest, I found we couldn’t really avoid it. It always helps with negotiating for places I want to visit if N gets his choice first. So a trip to Paultons Park was on the cards for half term.
The timing worked really well. Paultons Park opened the season on the first day of our half term. We chose the sunniest looking day and it was a beautifully warm one in the end. Perfect February weather for a theme park day.
We were also lucky because while it was our half term, it wasn’t half term for Hampshire schools. So Paultons Park wasn’t busy at all. Mostly just pre-schoolers, but we headed into Peppa Pig World early so we were done before it got too busy. Outside of Peppa Pig World (and even inside), there was very little queuing needed when we were there. Very different to our one and only Legoland trip on an unexpected inset day.
On arrival, N headed straight for Peppa Pig World. He was amazed by everything and how it was just like the tv show. N reminded me of our spaniel – nose to the ground, sniffing his way round to the rides he wanted.
I’m so relieved that N likes rides. He takes after me on that and not his dad who can’t even cope with a carousel. Although I don’t think I’d now stomach the huge rides that I used to go on pre-children. Although N is tall enough to go on the children’s rides on his own, he never wants to, so I get dragged on everything. Hence a lot of back of his head photos!
The rides are largely vehicle based – balloons, helicopters, cars, boats etc, but there’s lots of other things to see around the rides themselves. N was on a character and object spotting session although of course he refused to have his photo taken with any of the characters we spotted.
It did make me laugh to see so many real ducks around the place, given their frequent appearance on the tv show.
There’s lots going on around the park through the day. We only got round to the penguin feeding towards the end of it. We love penguins and they were having a great swim around and exercise in order to be given their fish. If you want a good viewing point that’s easy for children to see, do head over to the enclosure early.
Our aim was to do Peppa Pig World by lunchtime and we managed that, plus a quick wander around Critter Creek. There wasn’t much around there – just the reptile centre, a couple of rides, including the Cobra roller coaster that N decided he wanted to ride on. He loved his first ride on one, but I didn’t have my Gopro* harness so we couldn’t take a video of our ride. I was told I had to take a video of the ride afterwards so his dad could see what we’d been on. We also had a ride on the Rio Grande train around the park. N does love a train.
Being February, no all the café or restaurant facilities were open. But we had no problems getting food quickly in the railway station café. The cost for a kid lunchbox, sandwich, cake and drink wasn’t as pricy as I’d expected either.
After lunch, we headed off to the Lost Kingdom to check out the dinosaurs. We walked through the formal gardens of which there were some pretty themed ones. We loved the snakes and ladders garden (one of N’s favourite games recently). And N spent some time playing in a very empty playground. Perfect for a sunny day, and the park thinks of everything – undercover benches for sunny or rainy days shelter.
N was excited to see the dinosaurs because he’d been studying them at school last term. Unfortunately we’d just missed the T Rex feeding time but we did turn a corner to see a ‘keeper’ with a roaming just-hatched baby T Rex. I was so surprised that N went over to stroke it, but he was so pleased to have done so.
The one thing at Paultons Park you need to watch out for is all the extra opportunities for children to spend your money. N really wanted to win a big cuddly donut but I managed to persuade him against this by saying we didn’t see anyone who’d won one. But when the game was ‘hook a dinosaur’ I decided N could have go. His game was over in 2 seconds because he chose the 2 nearest ducks, rather than choosing one before waiting to target another one further away.
After winning the smallest size of dinosaur, N then realised that maybe he should have spent a bit more time thinking about it, to try and get a higher score to win a larger prize. I love how he’s pretty quick to realise that sometimes it pays to take your time. Of course, a small dinosaur was much more practical to carry round.
We then had an hour or so to check out some of the rides. We did queue for a bit for the jeep safari the Dinosaur Tour Company, which was a nice enough ride although N deemed it too scary to go on ever again because a dinosaur moves out to squirt water at people.
With the park not being busy, it meant it was really relaxed and we didn’t need to rush from one ride to the next. N loved watching the bigger rollercoasters as well.
A day out (even in February) requires an ice cream when it’s sunny. So we sat, ate and chatted about the day we’d had before heading out. A final walk through the gardens, a look at the rotating globe, and through the colourful shop before heading off somewhere else for the last part of the afternoon.
I’m not sure we’d be able to spend all day at Paultons Park. Although in summer time taking swimwear for children for the splash park and adding on time for ride queues, it would probably add on another couple of hours. As it was, we’d been on plenty of rides for our money and had a lovely walk around.
Like any theme park Paultons Park is fairly pricy (we paid advance prices which worked out at £56 for the 2 of us). But at least you don’t pay for parking. While there are some big rides, most older children and adults would be looking to the bigger theme parks for thrills. It does cater well for families with children with a large age difference, as long as you’re happy to separate off to make the most of your ticket.
We had a great day, and N was buzzing the next day still talking about everything he’d seen.
Have you ever been to Paultons Park? Do you have Peppa Pig fans and how did you wean your children off the pig!?
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