Lightwater Valley Theme Park, with Younger Children – A Review

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It’s been over twenty (cough) years, since I’ve been to Lightwater Valley. It’s been on my girls’ list of places to visit for a while so as the Easter holidays came around we decided that everyone (now they’re almost nine and just three) was probably now old enough to enjoy the trip properly.

Mr P and I hadn’t been too excited by the prospect, we recalled going in our teenage years and even then finding it full of thrill rides and had not remembered it being that family friendly.

Turns out we couldn’t have been more wrong. The Theme Park was unrecognisable from our days of visiting and there really were rides suitable for everyone.

The cost was expectantly high (£75 for our family of five – there’s a discount if you book online in advance), but the value for money was reasonable given the cost of going to the cinema these days! My girls are just on the cusp of the magic 1.3meters tall, which means they could then ride any ride in the park, including all the thrill rides, such as the Ultimate rollercoaster.

I think the Easter holidays is a good time to go, I don’t know how busy it gets in the summer holidays but our day trip was relatively quiet and we didn’t really queue any length of time for any rides (whether the thrill rides waits were longer we didn’t get to find out!). We lucked out with the weather, the sunniest day of the school holidays to date.I think it may have been a different experience in the wind and rain.

Despite their bravado on the journey there, the girls quickly changed their minds about wanting to ride the scarier rides once they laid eyes on them! Plenty to come back for when they are older!

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On arrival we were greeted by a huge, empty Angry Birds Activity Park which the girls loved exploring and the Small Boy couldn’t get enough of the slides.

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Angry Birds Activity Centre

We moved on to the Carousel, which was perfectly suited for everyone in the family. The Small Boy wasn’t tall enough to ride a horse, but could sit on a carriage with a grown up.

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Carriage on the Carousel

Then we headed over to the Lightwater Wheel to get a good view of the park to find our bearings for the day. It does feel like it goes very high and although any age child can board this ride if they are accompanied I’m glad the Small Boy decided to give this one a miss.

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Lightwater Wheel

We wandered over to the tamer Eagles Creek Farm tractor ride, where the girls could ‘drive’ their own tractor around to see some small farm animals and the Small Boy was happy enough ‘steering’ ours.

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Eagles Creek Farm

The girls loved the Flying Camels, even the Small Boy was up for a go on them, but he was too small. We all rode the Buffalo Express with our knees on our chins ? but the girls didn’t complain after seeing the excitement on the Small Boys face!

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Flying Camels
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Buffalo Express

The traditional fairground carousel type rides were ridden a few times, the Spinning Teacups, the Dragon Boats, the Clownaround, the Human Cannonball and Mini Ferris Wheel.

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Spinning Teacups
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Human Cannonball
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Mini Ferris Wheel

We all boarded the Little Dipper, before we realised what we’d done! The Small Boy was not too impressed by the speed or noise of the ‘train’ / actual rollercoaster! ? But the girls enjoyed it.

There were really useful clear signs on every ride telling you what you needed to know before you got on, and helpfully what ages and heights rides were appropriate for. Obviously we’d missed reading the one for the Little Dipper in our excitement to get on it!

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Little Dipper
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What the ride signs look like

There was a brief moment of terror as Little Miss B and Mr P climbed aboard the Flying Cutlass pirate ship (which looks tame compared to it’s big brother the Black Pearl). Turns out it goes pretty high itself and she learnt the hard way once you get on a ride it stops for no one! ? It was awful seeing her little face turn from excitement into shear terror and helplessly watch on as Mr P tried to ‘talk her down’ all the while not loving the ride himself!

Black Pearl
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Flying Cutlass

We took a picnic lunch – the food available didn’t look the greatest, and it was expensive, £2 for a take-out tea (and it wasn’t Betty’s standard ?) it was a short walk back to the car to pick it up, but there were some lockers available inside if we had wanted.

After lunch we rode Skull Rock (roundabout bouncy ride), the girls went on the Pirate Swinger (low level chair swings) and we all took turns on the Vintage Car Rally. We bought ice creams and sweets to share, and watched the girls head down the Skate Karts with varying degrees of success.

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Pirate Swinger
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Vintage Car Rally

Little Miss B had just about recovered from her earlier scare to be tempted to ride the Falls of Terror (really high water chutes that you ride in a rubber dinghy) which myself and her both enjoyed/terrified ourselves a bit on. Then it was time to ride the Lightwater Express back to the Angry Birds Activity Park where they ran off their last bit of steam before collapsing into the car!

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Lightwater Express

We were really impressed with our day out and all said we’d go back again.We’d like to see the Falconry Centre that we missed out on and I’m also sure the Small Boy would like the new Funky Monkeys Soft Play area opening up. He was mesmerised by the life-like dinosaurs at Jussasic Adventure Golf, on the way into the park (separate fee £3.50 a go). A couple of the rides were shut, Little Miss B had fancied the Swan Boats and we all thought Wild River Rapids looked good. And it won’t be long before the girls are ready to scare themselves just that little bit more on rides such as the Eagles Claw, Apollo and Raptor Attack!

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Jurassic Adventure Golf
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The park was clean and well looked after, the staff were all friendly and it was really well laid out and easy to get around. The toilets were clean and plentiful, queuing was minimal and it felt safe, to the extent the girls could wander off to queue for a nearby ride by themselves without too much concern from us.

If you’re thinking of going I would recommend going on a sunny day in the Easter Holidays, taking a picnic and I think our children were at a pretty good age for it.

The Good:

  • Great rides
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Clean
  • Well run
  • Easy to get to
  • No queuing to park and easy to get out
  • Minimal queuing for rides
  • Rides guide with safety info about each ride before you board
  • Great family fun for everyone

The bad:

  • It’s expensive but reasonable value for money, we were there all day
  • There are excitable children from all walks of life there so, as you’d expect, be prepared to witness the occasional tantrum (both from child and parent!)

The ugly:

  • The food didn’t look great (hot dogs, burgers etc) but we didn’t taste it
  • The drinks were expensive


*This review has been written without compensation from Lightwater Valley and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
*Photos Copyright Lucy Playford

5 thoughts on “Lightwater Valley Theme Park, with Younger Children – A Review

  1. Thank you for the fantastic review and we are glad to hear that you all had an enjoyable day at Lightwater Valley
    Head of Marketing
    Lightwater Valley ????

    1. Thanks for your message Jane and for sharing my post on your Facebook page. We had such a lovely day and will certainly be back again. Hopefully we can review what we missed after our next visit ?

    1. HI Lynn, There is quite a bit for toddlers. My little boy who is three enjoyed the Carousel, the Buffalo Express, The farm tractor ride, all the fairground type rides like the teacups, he enjoyed the Angry Birds play park (with close supervision) he even went on the Little Dipper. So I would say there’s enough for little ones to do, depending on how adventurous they are of course!

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