Reviewed by Emma Wasson
We arrived at Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire at around 10am, the doors open at 9.30am however the rides do not open until 10am. We didn’t have to queue too long before we arrived at the front of the queue and my tickets were ready and waiting for me.
Being a theme park there are a huge number of staff required to man the whole operation, from the rides to the fairground type games, to the restaurants and shops to all the zoo keepers. I can honestly say that we received polite service from all members of staff throughout the park, however there were several members of staff manning the smaller rides that looked thoroughly bored and disinterested and looked like they would rather be somewhere else. We also attended the Sea Lion show and the keeper who gave the talk and trains the Sea Lions was clearly very passionate about his job and his love of the animals shone through during the show.
We had picked the perfect day and were blessed with lovely weather, which obviously makes a huge difference to your overall experience with all the rides being outdoors. We entered through the main entrance to the park, and straight away the kids were excited and couldn’t wait to get onto the rides. There are several rides located just by the entrance gates, perfect for smaller children, and as the park had just opened the children didn’t have to queue long at all.
Most of the amusements located in the Metropolis area were gentle rides aimed at younger customers, which was perfect as my daughter was quite apprehensive and was adamant at the beginning that she wasn’t going to go on any rollercoasters. She wasn’t tall enough to be on the adult roller coasters however we eventually persuaded her to ride the Runaway Train which we could all go on as family as was fast enough for the younger rider and made her that little bit braver to try other rides later in the park. My son, however, who has just turned 5, hadn’t previously been on any rollercoasters and absolutely loved the Runaway Train, so much so that he went on it 3 times in a row and kept asking all day to go back and have one more go!!!
The whole park has been cleverly designed, and each different area has a really good mix of rides for the whole family. There are obviously rides aimed at older children/adults, however you don’t have to walk far to find another ride perfect for youngsters.
The park itself although spread over the large area, is walkable, should you choose to do so, however there are various modes of transport to help you travel easily from one area of the park to another, should you wish to go on specific rides. There is the Daktari express train, which we rode from the tigers to the Laser battle area. The kids loved this, it goes at a nice steady speed and there was plenty of room for families with pushchairs as well. We also rode the cable car from the Kumali up to the Sea Lion enclosure, which allowed us to reach the Sea Lion show just in time. There is also a monorail but we didn’t have time to try this one out.
My husband decided to be brave and check out one of Flamingo Land’s new rides called Hero, whilst I waited with the children. I think I was nervous for him as we watched him queue up. You lie down in a capsule and are then subjected to various twists and turns, my husband came off smiling but with adrenaline racing through his body. Since we’ve had children I can’t remember the last time I actually went on a rollercoaster, however not to be outdone by my husband I decided to try out Cliff Hanger. I hadn’t actually seen what the ride did before getting in the queue and I thought that it took you slowly up to a ridiculous height and then dropped you to the ground very fast. However after being locked down in my seat waiting for my nice gentle ascent to admire the countryside I was suddenly shot up into the air at a ridiculously high speed, screaming my head off praying to reach the top, which after what felt like an eternity I did, only to be thrust downwards leaving my brain and tummy in the sky. After dismounting the ride, with my jelly legs hoping for a sit down, my kids came running up to me asking for their photo to be taken with the meerkats who were walking round the park, and I was literally brought straight back down to earth.
For lunch we’d brought a picnic and there are lots of picnic tables located throughout the park, making it easy for families and many families had opted to do the same as us. However if you didn’t want to take a pack up there are a variety of different food eateries located around the park catering for different tastes. Being before Easter and in the quieter season not all of the food outlets were open, however you could see in the summer months there would be plenty of choice and availability to cope with the summer crowds. We opted for a couple of portions of chips to compliment out picnic, and even though the staff were polite the level of service in the main food court near the front entrance was terribly slow. It took my husband 15 minutes to return with the chips. He said there were more members of staff working behind the counter than in the queue but only one behind the desk actually taking orders, so this made the service incredibly slow.
After lunch we headed into Dino Stone Park, which had been newly completed this year. My dinosaur loving little boy had been asking to go there from the moment we arrived at the park as he had seen a picture of one of the dinosaurs on the entrance leaflet. I’d seen the model of the Velociraptor move as you got close to it and we tricked my little boy that it was real and sure enough as he approached, the raptor started to move, he jumped out of his skin and moved away from the dinosaur very quickly. There are lots of other dinosaurs located throughout this area, with various moving parts which really appealed to both my children. Again there was a good mix of rides which the children loved with little waiting times to get on the rides, which was perfect for us.
One of their favourite rides was a small rollercoaster for children only, called Go Gater, and we sat in the grassed picnic area which was very pleasant surrounded by trees, and watched them whilst they went on the ride about 6 times.
We then got ice creams, which at £7.90 for 4 different types is not cheap, however is a typical price you would expect to pay and probably on a par with similar venues. We then took a leisurely walk around the zoo which makes up a large part of Flamingo Land. With it being a nice day it was very pleasant strolling around this area of the park which is much quieter, with no music playing from the rides and allowed the children to have the all important quiet time. We walked along the Treetop walkway and saw a Taper having a swim in the water and watched the penguins and seagulls swim peacefully together in their lovely new enclosure at the far end of the park.
By about 3.30pm we’d taken the Daktari Express and walked to the Lost River Ride. My daughter was feeling much braver by this point and we decided to give it a go. Oh my goodness, we were not prepared for how wet we were going to get. We all had our winter waterproof jackets with hoods and thought we would be ok, maybe come away with a few wet patches on our jeans. However after a lovely boat ride around the river taking in the animals, notably lions and giraffes we headed up the steep ramp to the top of the ride. The boat then descends rapidly down the steep incline and into the water below. At first you think oh that wasn’t too bad and then a torrent of water descends on top of your head completely soaking you from head to toe. I think if we’d all sat in a bath in our clothes we couldn’t have been anymore wet. Although dry on our top halves all 4 of us were completely sodden from the waist down. At the end of the ride you can pay £2 to get into a huge drying machine, which we did and even though it didn’t dry us at all, it warmed us up. Luckily it was a nice day and our clothes did start to dry out a bit by the time we left at 5pm. We had spare clothes for the children but not for us, and we were both very relived to finally get home and change into some dry clothes. However saying all this it was so much fun and in the summer if you’re in shorts you will dry out pretty quickly. They do sell plastic ponchos at the start of the ride, and with hindsight perhaps we should have bought some of these, and next time we go will go prepared, as we’ll definitely do it again.
Then walking very strangely we all took the cable car and took in the Sea Lion show. You enter an auditorium where there are plenty of tiered wooden seats for everyone to sit down and to get a good view of the show. Probably about ¾ of the seats were taken for the last show of the day and the audience all seemed to have a good time. The keeper is clearly very passionate about the Sea Lions and has a special bond with them which shone throughout the performance. They are clearly well treated and have been extremely well trained and it was joy to watch the Sea Lions complete various tricks.
We then had just enough time to head to the Children’s Planet, which as it was the end of the day was fairly quiet and they could have a good run around. It is a fairly new attraction and is a mix of wooden climbing tunnels, turrets, walkways with plastic slides all interconnected. They have all been cleverly built around smaller animals and you can take a walk though the reptile tunnel to see the snakes and put your head into one of the viewing pods inside the Meerkat enclosure.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, blessed by good weather and short queues for the rides it made it a pleasurable experience for the whole family. There is such a variety of things to do whilst you are in the park, it is impossible to see and do it all in one day. I think we managed to complete about half of the rides aimed at the younger ones, and if you have slightly older children there is a variety of thrill seeking rides to keep you entertained during the day as well. Although we walked around the majority of the zoo, we didn’t get to see all the animals and didn’t get to see all of the various shows that are put on for the public, which would enable you to do something different next time you go.
The park itself is spotlessly clean, there is no rubbish or litter lying around and there are plenty of rubbish bins throughout the park which I think helps keep it clean. We used various toilets as we walked around the park, and they were all clean however when we used the toilets by the Muddy Duck Farm after 4.30pm there was no toilet paper left in any of the vacant toilets. Many of the toilets also didn’t have hot water, but there was a sign in one of them saying they were suffering from low water pressure which may have caused this. Flamingo Land is a large park, and there are rides and areas of the park that have clearly been around for some time and are in need of some TLC, however there has been recent investment in the park, namely the DinoStone Park and Children’s Planet and these areas have been cleverly thought out, and are modern and up to date. The area at Riverside 1 is very smart and modern with neatly landscaped areas outside. Although open to the public, this serves as the evening entertainment venue for those staying at the holiday park. The main outdoor stage area was clearly undergoing a re-vamp as construction workers were hard at work building a new stage.
If you pay on the door a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children) costs £110 (£95 if booked inline) for a day, which is obviously a very expensive day out, considering you will probably spend more once you are in the park. Whether this is on food, games, merchandise, as there are plenty of shops throughout the park selling soft toys and presents for you to buy. However it doesn’t have to be this expensive as you can save money by pre-ordering your tickets on the internet in advance, and taking a pack up and snacks. We were kept busy for the entire day and the children loved it and can’t wait to go again, so even though not a cheap day out it is certainly worthwhile and if it’s a nice day I would definitely recommend it to other families. My children slept really well after being entertained outdoors all day, which is always a bonus.
Overall, we arrived at the park at 10am with 2 very excited children (5 and 7) and came away at 5pm with 2 very content tired children, we were kept busy and occupied all day. There is so much to do for children of our age, it’s impossible to fit it all in one day.
A perfect mix for families with smaller children, from the buzz of the rides to the peace and tranquillity of the zoo which allows for a little quiet time for the children to relax and take a break. They also love looking at the animals as well.
Throughout the day it remained warm and sunny, which allowed for the perfect day out.
Tickets cost £35 (£29 online) for adults and children over 4, under 4’s are free, £24 for senior citizens and disabled guests/carers (proof required), £110 for a family ticket (£95 online).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.flamingoland.co.uk or call 0871 911 8000.
(calls cost 10p per minute from a BT landline. Mobile costs may vary)
Flamingo Land Ltd. Kirby Misperton, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6UX | Tel: 0871 911 8000