All the fun of the fair

Date Posted: 15/02/2011

Hold on tight - Group Leisure’s Theme Park Guide is going to be an exciting ride.

A group visit to a theme park can be a real crowd-pleaser, with loop-the-loop rollercoasters for the thrill-seekers and the gentle spinning teacups for those wanting a tamer experience. There is now so much more than just amusements, with some parks boasting animal encounters, entertainment shows, acres of gardens and themed on-site accommodation. Even if you’ve visited an attraction previously, there are plenty of developments taking place across the theme parks this year to keep groups interested.

Drayton Manor Theme Park

Drayton Manor is home to a wide variety of attractions. For the brave there are white-knuckle rides such as Maelstrom, G-Force and Apocalypse; younger visitors love the 4D cinema; whilst the 15-acre zoo is popular with all ages. Children and those young at heart should stop off at Thomas Land, a group of attractions based on the popular Thomas & Friends characters. Extend your experience with an overnight stay at the brand new on-site hotel opening over summer. A Ben 10 themed rollercoaster is another addition for 2011.

Groups guide: Parties of 12 or more and 30 or more travelling in one vehicle are entitled to discounted tickets, with one free organiser place per group.

Lightwater Valley Theme Park
north Yorkshire

Lightwater Valley features over 40 rides across 175 acres. Amusements include Raptor Attack, Whirlwind and Eagle’s Claw, with the Wild River Rapids being a fun choice if you don’t mind getting splashed. The Ultimate is said to be Europe’s longest rollercoaster, and brand new for this season is Skeleton Cove - a pirate-themed area home to five swashbuckling rides. If the pace gets a little too much, your group can seek respite at the nearby Lightwater Shopping Village.

Groups guide: Pre-booked group rates offer a saving of nearly 40 per cent, with one free organiser place per 25.

West Midland Safari & Leisure Park

More than just a zoo, West Midland Safari & Leisure Park features an amusement area of more than 30 rides. Alongside the four-mile safari and animal exhibits, groups can experience water splashes, twists, turns, heights and plummets on rides such as the Zambezi Water Splash, Twister Coaster and the Venom Tower Drop. Shops and catering outlets can be found all over the park.

Groups guide: Rates to the safari park are based on a minimum of 12 arriving by coach or minibus. Additional ticket options for the rides are flexible, with the choice of a multi-ride wristband or a pay-per-ride basis.

Adventure Island

Based on the pier at Southend-on-Sea, Adventure Island has over 60 rides and attractions. Groups can scream through the loops and twists of Rage, with its 75-foot drop and 360 degree barrel roll, and experience the CGI animation of ghost ride Over the Hill. New additions this year include white knuckle ride The Time Machine and a rollercoaster suitable for all ages.

Groups guide: Group booking offers are available if purchased in advance online.

Nickelodeon Land, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool

Brand new and scheduled to open in April, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool is launching the UK’s first Nickelodeon-branded attraction. Nickelodeon Land will consist of 14 rides over six acres, with a store, family restaurant and opportunities to meet with Nickelodeon characters. Amusements will include SpongeBob’s Splash Bash, Nickelodeon Streak, The Rugrats Lost River and Avatar Airbender, a spinning giant disk which soars through the air. Top rides at the main Pleasure Beach complex are Avalanche, Big Dipper and the Pepsi Max Big One.

Groups guide: Group rates start from £16 per person, depending on the party size, for entry to the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, and Nickelodeon Land.

Blackgang Chine
Isle of Wight

First opened to the public in 1843, Blackgang Chine is an eclectic mix of exciting rides, goblins, fairies, dinosaurs, nursery rhyme characters, cowboys and indians, all set within rambling Victorian cliff-top gardens. Highlights include the Cliffhanger rollercoaster and the Water-Force boat ride. A new Fairyland feature is being installed this year, as well as the drunken sailor rolling barrel illusion.

Groups guide: Group prices apply to 15 or more people with unlimited return visits within seven days. Joint tickets with sister attraction Robin Hill Adventure Park and Gardens are available.

Alton Towers Resort

The Alton Towers Resort incorporates the theme park, aquarium, water park, spa, golf course and two themed hotels. Adrenaline junkies will love Air, Nemesis, Oblivion and Rita, whilst THI3TEEN, said to be the world’s first free fall drop coaster, takes riders on a gruelling journey through The Dark Forest. Cloud Cuckoo Land is an amusement area perfectly suited to keep the younger group members entertained. Make a leisurely weekend of it with an overnight stay at either the Alton Towers or Splash Landings Hotel.

Groups guide: Parties of ten plus can save up to 50 per cent over on-the-day ticket prices for entry into the theme park if booked in advance online.

Pleasurewood Hills

A visit to the east of England wouldn’t be complete without a day at the 50-acre Pleasurewood Hills. White-knuckle rides include the 120-foot, nearly 50 miles per hour Wipeout ride, plus Enigma, Fireball and Thunderstruck. Schedule some additional entertainment into your itinerary with the Circus & Street Art Shows and the original Sea Lion and Parrot Show.

Groups guide: Pre-booked groups of 15 or more are entitled to discounted entry, free coach parking, and complimentary entry with meal voucher for the coach driver. A free 30-minute seminar on a subject of your choice can be arranged for all pre-booked groups.

Camelot Theme Park

Camelot Theme Park is set around the world of King Arthur, where knights battle in jousting tournaments, dragons fly and wizards perform all manner of sorcery. The selection of rides are no exception, with the Knightmare rollercoaster, Excalibur 2, Galleon Ships and Merlin's Playland. New for 2011 is the Falconry Centre, which will allow groups to get up close and learn about the birds of prey from the court of King Arthur through daily flying displays.

Groups guide: Special discounts are available for pre-booked groups of 12 or more, with free places for group organisers and coach drivers.

Chessington World of Adventures

Your group can take a spin on KOBRA in Wild Asia, brave the fiery Dragon’s Fury in the Land of the Dragons, and aim your laser gun on Tomb Blaster in Forbidden Kingdom. Take a walk on the wild side with tigers, lions and gorillas in the Trail of the Kings, before stopping off at Chessington’s SEALIFE Centre. Extend the group’s trip by staying overnight at the safari-themed hotel, and wake up to zebras and antelopes grazing quietly in the nearby Wanyama Village & Reserve.

Groups guide: Groups of ten plus can access discounts when booking in advance.

Paultons Family Theme Park

Paultons Park is home over 60 different attractions to suit all group members, from big and small rides to exotic birds and animals, all within a parkland setting. Top-rated amusements include Sky Swinger, The Cobra, and Edge – described as the UK’s first roller coaster to feature a camelback hill, which creates a floating sensation. Launching this year is Peppa Pig World, with seven new rides for youngsters.

Groups guide: Discounted rates apply to a minimum of 15 paying people, with one free admission for every group of 25 paying guests.


Experience over 55 interactive rides and attractions at LEGOLAND Windsor as it celebrates its 15th birthday in 2011. The park theme is established by LEGO models throughout the 150 acres, carefully crafted from over 55 million bricks. Viking’s River Splash and Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench are both popular water-based rides. From early summer, join LEGO divers on a fun fishy mission – a new world-first ride coming to LEGOLAND.

Groups guide: Advanced purchase groups ticket discounts are applicable to groups of seven plus and ten plus visitors.

Gulliver’s Theme Parks
Warrington, Matlock Bath and Milton Keynes

Designed especially to suit younger group members aged two to 13-years-old, Gulliver’s Theme Parks feature themed areas with rides and entertainment. The Warrington and Milton Keynes sites boast Splashzone attractions for heated indoor water play, and the latter complex is also home to a Dinosaur and Farm Park.

Groups guide: Gulliver’s offers free familiarisation trips to organisers, and group discounts apply.

Crealy Great Adventure Parks
Devon and Cornwall

The two Crealy attractions in south-west England offer both indoor entertainment and outdoor adventure, making it a good all-weather theme park. Amongst other amusements, Cornwall has the Morgawr rollercoaster and The Beast thrill ride; Devon features the Maximus rollercoaster and the Queen Bess pirate ship; whilst both are home to a log flume, Water Walkerz and various animal encounters.

Groups guide: Pre-booked group packages require a minimum of 15 paying people, and include fast track entry, a free organiser ticket, and complimentary entry plus a £10 catering voucher for coach drivers.

Thorpe Park

At Thorpe Park, thrill seeking groups are challenged to complete the ‘Unholy Trinity’ of rides - hit full throttle on Stealth as you are launched to a vertigo-inducing height; go through the twists of the ten-looping rollercoaster Colossus; and feel the g-force on Nemesis Inferno. Brave a 100 degree vertical drop on SAW – The Ride, and new for 2011 is Storm Surge, a sky-high spinning water ride.

Groups guide: Advanced purchase groups ticket discounts are applicable to groups of seven plus and ten plus visitors.

Disneyland Paris

Best suited to a weekend trip, the Magic Kingdom of Disneyland Paris has five lands to explore. With something to appeal to all group members: Fantasyland brings Disney's animated films to life; Frontierland has the Big Thunder Mountain runaway mine train; Pirates of the Caribbean, a water flume in the dark, is the star ride at Adventureland; Space Mountain: Mission 2, the supercharged canon ride, signifies you’ve entered Discoveryland; and Main Street USA offers the charm of a small-town American street. Spend the evening at the Disney Village, with its restaurants, bars, live shows and cinemas, before retiring to one of the themed hotels.

Groups guide: As a UK special offer, if you're booking six rooms or more, or there are over 12 people in your group, you're entitled group rates.


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