Is Thorpe Park any good for younger kids?

I have such amazing memories of Thorpe Park as a teenager, and I have no doubt about how incredible a place it is for secondary school age kids, but since we got our Merlin Annual Pass a couple of years ago, I’ve been wondering whether it is any good for younger children.

So about a month ago we took the test and went along with L (aged 7 years) and C (then aged 17 months). Here is a snapshot of our day there:

As you can see L was in no doubt about how good the day was for her, but what about for the rest of us?

Here is an outline of the pros and cons that we found – I do love a list of pros and cons when making a decision!

Pros of Thorpe Park with younger children

  • It is massive, with lots going on, L’s eyes were literally popping out of her head as she took it all in.
  • There are 15 rides for those under 1.2 metres – and as L is pretty small I’d say that would cover most 7 year olds and probably a fair few 6 year olds too. (For those over 1.4 metres there are a further 10 rides – mostly the thrill rides.)
  • This is somewhere kids can get that funfair feel without us adults worrying about the fear of funfair safety.
  • The rides are all INCREDIBLE!
  • If you’ve got really little ones, from around May onwards, there is “Neptune’s Beach”, which is a massive pretend beach area, with water and a simple play area.
  • There is a carousel (or merry-go-round as I call them) with a very short/no queue time, so your little ones can go on again, and again, and again.
  • If you get “Fastrack” passes (as we did) you can go on pretty much everything you want to, without spending hours queueing, and you can even repeat your favourite ones. As we did.
Thorpe Park Neptune's Beach

Neptune’s Beach (it wasn’t open when we went as it was too early in the season)

Thorpe Park Chief Ranger's Carousel.

L, C and me on Chief Ranger’s Carousel

Thorpe Park Storm Surge.

Hubs and L on Storm Surge (on the left) – they ended up going on this one 3 times!

Cons of Thorpe Park with younger children

  • If Neptune’s Beach is closed (as it was when we went in mid-April) there is nothing for toddlers to do, expect go on the Carousel. Fortunately C was happy enough in her buggy/walking around a bit on her reins, but for some toddlers this lack of activities may turn into a nightmare for the parents.
  • The “Fastrack” pass is really worth getting if you’re going on the rides for those over 1.4 metres as it covers all of them; however for the family friendly rides, which were suitable for L, only 5 rides were covered.
  • Queue time tends to be very long: the thrill rides usually have around 60-90 minute wait times (unless you get the “Fastrack”); the family friendly rides varied from around 30-45 minutes, which can be quite a long time for little ones to stand around and wait for, so think about bringing activities to keep their minds off the waiting.
  • There are a lot of water rides, which is fab when the weather is good, but when it’s not, it limits your options.
  • There is very little shelter anywhere in the park, so if it’s hot and sunny you’ll need cold drinks, suncream, sun hats, sunglasses etc, equally if it’s raining don’t forget your umbrellas and waterproofs.
  • As can be expected in places like this (and I find it is the same in most amusement parks – Disneyland Paris was the same), the food is ok, but nothing special, you often wait quite a while for your food and it is more expensive than the equivalent on the High Street. My recommendation is to take a picnic if the weather is good (but not too hot that you need shade), as there are various grassy areas scattered around where you can have your lunch.
  • If you’ve got a little one who’s still in nappies bear in mind that the park is not brilliantly equipped for changing them: there are baby changing facilities but they are in the disabled toilets, which are locked. You need to go to Guest Services to get a key, either each time you need to change your little one, or at the start of the day you can get a key (against a £10 deposit), which you then swap back at the end of the day.
Toddler in a buggy.

Where C spent most of her day at Thorpe Park

My top tips

  • Thorpe Park is expensive if you just buy a day ticket (£24.99). If you live in the southeast and like this kind of thing I recommend you get an annual pass (£58) or better still, get a Merlin annual pass so you can go to numerous other attractions including Chessington, Legoland, the London Eye, SEA life London, Madame Tussaud’s and London Dungeons, these are currently on sale at £89 here. We have had a Merlin annual pass for three years now and I have enthused about it on the blog here and here.
  • To get the most out of your day I suggest you arrive early, and if you are going on the thrill rides too then you should consider getting a Fastrack pass to avoid spending too much of your time queueing. The unlimited Fastrack pass isn’t cheap (£75), but if you get one for certain rides only you can find them from just £8.
  • Take a picnic to avoid spending too much time or money on lunch. Save your pennies for a mid-afternoon ice-cream 🙂
  • If you’re going with toddlers, go from late May onwards so one of you can go to Neptune’s Beach with the little one(s), while the other adult accompanies bigger kids on rides/goes on rides alone.
  • Take sun protection or rain protection and/or warm layers, depending on the weather.
  • Take activities to keep your children occupied whilst waiting for rides, this will keep everyone’s stress levels down too 🙂
  • Go with an open mind and have a great time! We had a ball, particularly because L had THE best time, so we enjoyed watching her have fun as much as anything else.
  • Have a look round the Thorpe Park website before going as your needs will no doubt be different to ours.

Disclosure: We have our own Merlin Annual Pass but were gifted £40 gift vouchers to cover the cost of lunch, and a Fastrack pass for all the family, in exchange for this honest review. As ever all words and opinions are my/our own.


1 Response

  1. 10/08/2014

    […] Barrow offers some top tips (and a couple of whines) Franglaise Mummy asks whether it’s any good for younger children. Chelsea Mamma visits with teenagers and […]

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