There’s the thrill of hair-raising rollercoasters, the indulgence in sugary snacks, and the inevitable butterflies in your stomach as you queue for the park’s scariest ride. Now, while North America is home to some of the world’s most epic amusement parks, the UK has its fair share of pretty incredible theme parks as well.
So, how do you decide on which one is the right choice for you and your family? To help you decide, we've compiled a list of the most enjoyable amusement parks in the UK -
- Thorpe Park
- Alton Towers
- Chessington World of Adventures
- Drayton Manor
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach
- Gulliver's Kingdom
- Paultons Family Theme Park
- Crealy Theme Park & Resort
- New Forest Water Park
- Pleasurewood Hills Family Theme Park
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best theme parks in the UK, and how to get there.
Thorpe Park, Surrey
Let’s kick off with what is widely recognised as being the most thrilling theme park in the UK. Geared towards an older audience, Thorpe Park offers a mix of thrilling rides that should satisfy even the most demanding adrenaline junkies. There is a section for smaller children, but tiny tots aren’t the main focus here.
Highlights: Stealth, one of the fastest rollercoasters in the whole of Europe. Derren Brown’s Ghost Train is a great spooky addition.
Best for: Thrill seekers and big kids. It’s not for the faint-hearted!
- Adults and children: from £33
- Under 3’s: free
Trains to Thorpe Park
Staines is the nearest train station to Thorpe Park. From here, you can take a shuttle bus directly to the park. The 950 Express Bus services run every 15-20 minutes from the station to the park.
Alton Towers, Staffordshire
A favourite among thrill-seekers thanks to rides such as Oblivion and Nemesis, Alton Towers is packed with an ample rollercoaster selection. The diversity of their offering makes this park a great choice for pretty much all ages. Whether you’re a daredevil teenager or just along for the snacks, this enormous park has something for everyone - the famously exhilarating Oblivion, four hotels, and a very lively waterpark.
Highlights: CBeebies land for all the little ones, and the waterpark for everyone else. Alton Towers is also the proud home of the UK’s very first rollercoaster restaurant.
Best for: Families with kids of all ages.
- Adults: from £33
- Children: from £27.50
- Under 3’s: free
Trains to Alton Towers
There are three train stations close to Alton Towers: Stoke-on-Trent, Uttoxeter and Derby, with Uttoxeter being the closest. You’ll need to get a bus service or a taxi from the train stations to the park.
Chessington World of Adventures, Greater London
Want to visit one of the best theme parks in the UK without venturing too far from London? Chessington World of Adventures is just under 20 miles away from the big city, so it’s perfect for a day trip from London. Sure, it’s often overshadowed by the more thrilling two parks mentioned above, and there may be more extreme choices for adrenaline seekers. But there’s certainly some fun areas to explore within its sprawling grounds, including a zoo, a pirate cove, and a Sea Life centre. Chessington park is a destination designed to serve all members of the family.
Highlights: The Gruffalo riverboat. Only parents of tiny tots will know just how much joy this can bring.
Best for: Animal lovers and families with both big kids and little kids.
- Adults and children: from £29.50
- Under 3’s: free
Trains to Chessington World of Adventures
The closest train station to Chessington World of Adventures is Chessington South Station. You can catch regular train services here from London and other major cities. From the train station, it’s a 10-minute walk. You can also take a short bus or catch a quick taxi.
Drayton Manor, Staffordshire
For Thomas the Tank Engine fans everywhere, this one’s a must-visit. Drayton Manor is home to Thomas Land, an area packed with tons of rides and attractions based on the much-loved tank engine.
There’s also a number of non-Thomas related rides for all ages, an impressive zoo, and a dinosaur park on site. Drayton Manor theme park is a compact enough size for you to stroll through it all without tiring out little legs.
Highlights: The Thomas & Friends themed hotel room, and Shockwave - the stand-up rollercoaster.
Best for: Little ones or lovers of Thomas of any age.
- Adults and children 12+: from £28
- Children aged 4 - 11: from £24
- Children aged 2-3: from £8
- Under 2’s: free
Trains to Drayton Manor
Tamworth is the closest train station to Drayton Manor, just 3 miles away from the park. You can take a taxi or hop onto a direct bus from outside the station.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire
If you like your theme parks with a touch of nostalgia, visit the rustic and charming Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This historic park has been serving Blackpool’s locals and visitors since the 1890s. It is now the proud home of more than 120 rides and attractions, with six wooden rollercoasters including the much loved Big Dipper. The little ones will love exploring the massive Nickelodeon World with all the most popular characters such as Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer wandering about.
Highlights: The Big One (Europe’s tallest rollercoaster) and brand new ride ICON.
Best for: those with an appreciation for old-school amusement parks and the seaside.
- Adults and children 12+: from £23
- Children aged 11 and under: from £21
Trains to Blackpool Pleasure Beach
This iconic UK theme park has its own train station named (appropriately!) Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with regular services from Blackpool North, Preston and Colne. Exit the station and stroll straight into the park.
Gulliver's Kingdom, Warrington
If your family is on the younger side, Gulliver’s Kingdom could be the perfect choice of theme park for you. This family-friendly park in Derbyshire has been designed for kids between the ages of 2 and 13, with over 80 rides catering to this age group.
Highlights: The Pirates Play Area and the Log Flume.
Best for: Little ones and anyone who chooses to accompany them!
Opening times and tickets
- Adults and children: from £15
- Concessions: from £11
- Under 90cm: free
Trains to Gulliver’s Kingdom
Despite what you’re thinking, it’s possible to have an incredibly fun time at Legoland even if you’re not a huge fan of the famous plastic bricks. Sure, they don’t have any particularly exhilarating rollercoasters, but there are more than 50 rides on offer.
Highlights: The Legoland driving school for your kid’s very first ‘driving licence’.
Best for: children between 3 and 13 and theme park first-timers.
- Adults and children: from £29
- Under 3’s: free
Trains to Legoland
Get to Legoland by taking the train to Windsor & Eton Central station. You can get a shuttle bus service directly to the park from outside the station.
Scotland has more than just fairytale-esque castles on offer. M&Ds is the biggest theme park in Scotland, with some pretty hairy rollercoasters interspersed amongst tons of beautiful scenery.
Highlights: The indoor Tropical Rainforest. Oh, and the Giant Condor for incredible views.
Best for: Anyone with an appreciation for nature and all the classic theme park rides.
- Adults and children: from £9.95
- Under 3’s: free
Trains to M&Ds
M&Ds theme park is about 4 miles away from Motherwell train station, which runs regular services to and from Glasgow Central station.
Paultons Family Theme Park, Hampshire
Paultons Park is among the best theme parks for families with young kids. A major reason is Peppa Pig World, where every conceivable incarnation of the popular pig and her brother, George, appears in the form of rides, games, play areas, shops, eateries, and real-life encounters.
Another major attraction here is the Lost Kingdom, one of the best dinosaur-dedicated theme parks in England. It contains 4 acres of Jurassic landscape where you can take a dinosaur-spotting Jeep adventure, a dinosaur adventure play park, two family-friendly roller coasters, and other Jurassic-themed rides.
Highlights: Keep an eye out for the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Lost Kingdom – it’ll delight (and possibly terrify) the young ones!
Best for: Families with young kids, especially those that are Peppa Pig fans.
- Adults and children: from £30.50
- Seniors (60+): £28
- Children under 1m tall: free
Trains to Paultons Family Theme Park
Southampton Central is the nearest station to Paultons Park, around 8 miles away. From there, catch the X7R bus towards Salisbury and get off at Paultons Park.
Crealy Theme Park & Resort, Exeter
Crealy Theme Park & Resort is an easy-going, easy-to-navigate, good old-fashioned family theme park. Offering over 60 rides and attractions. It's surrounded by picture-perfect southern English countryside, giving it another edge over some of the bigger theme parks in England.
There are beautiful old-school fairground standards like swing rides and carousels, plus outdoor and indoor play areas, and an animal barn where little ones can pet and feed their furry friends. Crealy promises a fun family day out in South West England.
Highlights: Tidal Wave Log Flume ride. Be sure to grab a poncho as you’re in for a big splash!
Best for: Families with children under 12.
- Adults and children over 100cm: from £9.95
- Senior (65+): from £7.95
- Infant: free
Trains to Crealy Theme Park
Catch a train to Exeter’s principal rail station, Exeter St David's. From here, it’s a 40-minute journey on local bus services or a 20-minute taxi.
New Forest Water Park, Hampshire
New Forest Water Park offers something a bit different from other English theme parks. It has the only cable wakeboard park in the south of England, making it a favourite for thrill-seeking teenagers.
For younger kids, the UK's first large-scale Inflatable Aqua Park offers endless fun. Enjoy 4,000 square metres of floating trampolines, swings, a giant iceberg, and every kind of inflatable toy you could imagine, in a safe environment for ages 4 and up.
Highlights: the ‘iceberg’ in the Inflatable Aqua Park. You don’t quite realise how high it is until you’re up there!
Best for: teenagers and confident swimmers.
- Prices vary across activities and time slots. See New Forest Water Park’s online booking system for details.
Trains to New Forest Water Park
Hop on the train to Bournemouth station and use local bus services to get to the water park. The bus leg should take between 35 and 50 minutes.
Pleasurewood Hills Family Theme Park, Suffolk
Situated among 50 acres of coastal parkland, Pleasurewood Hills offers a more down-to-earth experience than many theme parks in England. That's not to say it doesn't deliver on thrill rides. Have a go on the intense Wipeout rollercoaster and you'll see what we mean.
Still, Pleasurewood Hills is first and foremost a family theme park aimed at pleasing kids, with mini-dodgems, paddleboats, and daily sea lion and parrot shows to go with a host of fun family rides.
Highlights: The sea lion show – the highlight of many punters’ days at Pleasurewood Hills.
Best for: families with young children.
- Adults and children: from £15
- Infants: free
Trains to Pleasurewood Hills
Pleasurewood Hills is located just outside Lowestoft station, which receives regular direct trains from Norwich and London Liverpool Street stations. From Lowestoft, take the 1A bus towards Martham and alight at Station Road – it should take under 40 minutes.
So there you have it, the best theme parks in the UK all in one place. Take your pick, start planning your trip, and look forward to an entire day of fun for the whole family! For more information and great prices on train tickets to any of these attractions, have a look on our website.