Reviewed by Sarah Bryan
A sensationally spooky day out this Halloween season!
Paultons Park has the perfect recipe for a fun filled family day out and the icing on the cake is all the extra delights that await you this October!
We were bursting with excitement as we arrived at Paultons Park in Ower, Romsey. It had taken us 2 hours to get there and is easily accessible from the main roads and well signposted. As we entered the grounds and drove up the winding road, the trepidation was building as huge posters gave us sneak peek tasters as to what might be in store inside this popular theme park this Halloween season.
Once we had been swiftly shown a parking space, we unloaded and joined many other families in the short walk to the main entrance, lured along by the creepy spooky music towards the big Paultons Park welcome sign and greeted by a magnificent seasonal display. There were endless swaths of corn, oodles of orange pumpkins and stack upon stack of hay. Families were propping their children in front of picturesque autumnal backgrounds for a perfect photo opportunity. The harvest wealth continued with giant interactive displays and the children shrieked with excitement as they jumped inside a gigantic cauldron, stirred by an enormous cute skeleton or climbed upon a monster sized pumpkin.
We were given a leaflet detailing the daily shows and I was really pleased that there were lots of things on in addition to all the usual fun that Paultons Park has to offer. I had checked the website and wondered whether the Halloween shows were only on during the last weekend of October but there is lots laid on during every day from 5th October – 3rd November!
You won’t fail to spot the “Pumpkin Patch” which has been artistically designed and is well worth admiring as you walk through the Main Gardens. One member of staff told us there were over 10,000 pumpkins adorning the grounds of Paultons Park and what an impact it made. It really set the scene and transformed the park completely since summer.
Firstly, let’s talk about Peppa Pig world – if you have children under the age of 5, chances are you will be heading to this area of Paultons Park. I’ll be honest; the first time we visited it was purely because of Peppa Pig world and we were pleasantly surprised to discover the rest of the park! Peppa Pig World is the busiest area within the vast walls of the theme park and it is a truly amazing experience for children. It’s a dream come true and will give you and them so many memories that will last a lifetime so embrace the queues (take lots of snacks) and the theme tune that will remain with you long after your day is over and relish in the piggytastic fluffy sunny giggly rainbow road that leads you deep inside the world of all things Peppa Pig.
During our day, we managed to do 9 rides within Peppa Pig World – some are very popular (Grampy Rabbits Sailing Club) and others you can get on quite quickly (Grandpa Pigs Boat Trip) but they average around 20 minutes wait time depending on the time of day and what else is happening such as shows. We also met Peppa & George at one of the scheduled photo opportunities and the children loved seeing their heroes dressed up for Halloween!!
Our first ride within Peppa Pig world was The Queens Flying Coach Ride which gives you a fantastic view from above. It opened at 10am sharp and the carriages were sent round on a test run before the passengers were loaded up. Although it was a dry day, it must have rained the previous night as the seats inside the carriage were soaking wet. I asked if there was a towel and was given a grubby sponge which had given up on any absorbent abilities long ago. What would be fab if it the ride attendant could give the seats a quick whizz over with a towel to prevent soggy bottoms!
We did 2 more rides in Peppa Pig World before heading to the rest of Paultons Park. Although Peppa Pig World is a whole day in itself; it is well worth exploring other parts of the park too as there is tons for small kids as well as older ones!
Tucked away at the back of Peppa Pig World is Trekking Tractors; a lovely pleasant ride that the whole family will love (we actually witnessed a dad trying to get in the front seat to drive the tractor) you chug around the veg patch and let your senses feast.
Step outside the hullabaloo and not only will you find a bit of breathing space; you’ll have opportunities to experience less queues and thus more ride time! Win win!
Bridging the journey from Peppa Pig world to the rest of Paultons Park lies two little gems; the Victorian Carousel (timeless!) and the Viking Boats (gentle splashing fun). Take the time to appreciate the sheer topiary talent that are awash in this area.
For those with smaller children there are many many play park areas dotted about the park. We loved the Little Explorers Adventure Play Park located in The Lost Kingdom and if you have a dinosaur crazy kiddo; then you can indulge them here with the fantastically fun T Rex Ranger Talk and a trip on The Dinosaur Tour Company amongst many other rides. Our 5 year old loved the Dino Chaser rollercoaster – ideal for those new to coasters!
Other rides not to miss for little ones are Seal Falls and Digger Ride and if you’re brave enough a whizz round on the Sky Swingers.
Critter Creek is a beautifully bright, bold and bonkers area which we spent lots of time in and it has a good selection of rides including a sweet little train ride called Professor Blasts Expedition Express. We did every ride in this section and loved it.
Who doesn’t love seeing animals on a day out? We thoroughly enjoyed munching our lunch while watching the penguin feeding and learning lots of interesting facts. You’ll find lots of pocket areas around Paultons Park containing feathery or furry friends.
An absolute must see show and only on during the Halloween season is the Little Monsters Ball which is on the Show Stage at 4pm daily. Be amazed and entertained by this fantastic bunch of high energy all singing all dancing cast dressed in gorgeous costumes and mesmerising the kids with hits such as “Thriller”.
One thing on our seasonal to do list which we didn’t get done was a visit to the Big Boo Barn – an interactive spooky attraction open from 12 daily during the Halloween season. Each time we checked, the queue was enormous. We checked again at 3:30 but the app told us the queue time was 30 mins so if you want to experience this very popular ride; get there quick for 12 noon!
Something I feel needs highlighting about Paultons Park is the stunning natural environment that the rides and attractions nestle in. There are huge ancient trees, exquisite flower beds and breath-taking topiary creations surrounding and running through the parks structure. The grounds are maintained to a high standard and it is clear that someone has poured their heart and soul into the original design and the continued upkeep of the park. The gardens are fabulous to walk through or to picnic in (weather permitting) and we particularly loved the Japanese garden and Mike and Anne’s Garden which is simply bursting with colour.
We downloaded the mobile app to our phones which is a really useful tool for finding out distance to rides and directions as well as queue waiting times. Just exercise a bit of caution with the queue times though as I’m not sure how quick it updates the app as we checked the queue time for Windy Castle at 4:30pm and it said 25 minutes but when we nipped to look, the queue looked short and actually we were on the ride within 10 mins! Thankfully the site is compact enough to be able to nip back and forth between areas so I would advise if there is a particular ride you want to get on that is busy during peak times then try either first thing, last thing or during lunchtime as we found waiting times much shorter during these periods.
There are many facilities around the park and all sorts of food or beverages or treat kiosks or cafes. We enjoyed a lovely cuppa and a coffee from The Coffee Station which gave super quick service delivered with friendliness and manners.
The toilets were well signposted and always kept clean and well stocked.
I saw lots of people taking advantage of the stroller hire available and we used the baby care centre in Peppa Pig World which was spotless.
There were lots of staff visible around the site in their purple uniforms; operating rides, serving at kiosks or tidying up litter and each person we encountered were fantastic with customer care. I was especially impressed with a lady operating the Windy Castle ride at 4.30pm who ensured there was no queue jumping in a polite yet assertive manner.
Top Tip: We purchased a Photo Pass which gives you 4 large photos for £25 presented in a full colour booklet. This is a great deal as 1 photo alone costs £10. There are 13 ride photo opportunities around the park so if you check the list and know you’ll be going on some of the rides then this is a fab deal.
Theme Parks… we have tried them all, but Paultons Park is our number one attraction for all round fun for a family on a day out. You really need more than 1 day so we will be back again next year to try the new Tornado Springs which looks set to take this already successful theme park to a whole other level!
A well-deserved 5-star rating!
Tickets cost from £35.75 (book online in advance for discount).
For more information or to book tickets online visit paultonspark.co.uk.
Paultons Park, Ower, Romsey, The New Forest, Hampshire, SO51 6AL