Reviewed by Adey Osbourne
Our family of five, two adults and three young girls aged 10, 9 and 7, recently visited Wicksteed Park in Northamptonshire for a family fun day out. Upon arrival we found that the park had introduced a new parking system where by you collect your ticket on the way in and pay before you leave. They now do a up to three hours price and then an over three hours i.e. all day, which costs a very reasonable £6.00. Therefore if you only wanted to come and play on the park area or only had a limited time available to you, the three hour option makes the visit even better value… add a few tickets for rides and it works out a reasonable way to pass a couple of hours.
However we were here for a longer visit and were especially excited about checking out the new Rush Zip Wire and associated features. We collected our tickets and headed over to the Rush area where we booked in for a session. As the area was a bit busy there was to be a small short wait for the instructors to finish the previous set of clients so we went off to the rides nearby. My wife and middle daughter chose to ride on the Pirate Ship, while I took the other two onto the Carousel. Although the park was already quite busy, none of the queues for the rides were very long so we jumped almost straight onto our rides. After this, we all did the large slide…took me back to my own childhood… really enjoyed this as did the girls. Again only a short queue.
From here it was back for training at the Rush. Our youngest and eldest were not going to do the Rush, so sat and had a drink while they waited patiently. Myself, my wife and middle daughter all went in for our induction. The staff carrying this out were brilliant. They were helpful and very friendly. They were well versed on all the safety side and did not rush through the training .They took their time and made sure everyone in the group got the attention and help they needed… well done guys!
After completing our training we headed over to the climbing wall, which has three levels of difficulty. Our daughter tried it out first and made a valiant try. Next up was my wife who again found it fun. I tried the middle difficulty one first and found it to be a challenge, so quickly swopped over to the easier one and made it to the top… this was great fun for all of us. After the climbing wall, we climbed up to the “Leap of Faith” part. This is a walk off the edge type fall, obviously broken up by the safety harness and pulley system. From the ground it doesn’t look that high, but when you get up there it’s a little higher than you think… my wife went first on this one and then myself and my daughter went together holding hands… the initial drop is short but enough to give you a buzz… the slow descent is great too… Finally we climbed to the top of the tower to do the zip wire ride across the park… with speeds of up to 40 miles per hour it’s not a slow leisurely ride, but a fast adrenaline rush type of ride. The view from the top of the tower across the park and surrounding area is worth the climb alone. Upon reaching the top we were greeted by two instructors, who again were friendly and made you feel at ease… my daughter at first was a little scared and the two instructors went out of their way to make her feel at ease. I went first and found it amazing. The speed was great and the view was out of this world. I cannot recommend it enough. Next my wife and daughter went at the same time, again they both loved it and my daughter came off the ride wanting to go straight back on, despite her initial fears. The only thing to remember about this ride is that you need a bit of time to do it all due to the safety training. It took us about an hour all in to do it all, but was well worth it.
By this time, we were all getting hungry and decided to treat ourselves to some hot food. From the large choice of outlets, we decided to try the fish and chips. The food was well cooked, hot and not greasy at all. The portion sizes were very good, in fact we all struggled to finish our portions. The prices were very reasonable too. Again well done Wicksteed on this, as its usually the one thing parks get wrong… feeding a family of five on a day out can sometimes require a small mortgage. This was not the case here!
After lunch we split into two groups as we wanted to try some different rides… I took the younger two to the laser zap game, while my wife and other daughter headed off to the Roller Coaster and Log Flume area. After a quick run around in the laser tag area, where we got very hot and sweaty, but had great fun in the dark zapping each other, we headed off to find the other two.
We found them easily event though the park was quite full, as due to the way the park areas are set out there always seems to be space, which is great as you don’t feel like its overly busy and that you are fighting for room. By the roller coaster area there are several rides including some suitable for smaller or less adventurous children, including a small roller coaster and a selection of sit on type rides… these our children went on and enjoyed even if they were a bit older. I went on the small roller coaster with my children and have to admit enjoyed it as much as the larger rides. We all went on the Log Flume and did not get too wet, but enough to make it enjoyable too.
The park is well kept and there are lots of bins which seem to be emptied regularly by the large number of staff. There are lots of areas for you to be able to sit and picnic if you bring your own food with you. There is also camping available on site if you want to make the stay a little longer.
We had a really great day out and would recommend the park to anyone with kids. Just check out the height restrictions for some of the rides. The rush requires you to be over 1m 40cm to be able to do it. I would also say it’s worth getting the wristbands if you are planning to be there longer then the three hours… we will certainly visit the park again.
For more information, ticket prices or to book tickets visit www.wicksteedpark.org.
Wicksteed Park. Barton Rd, Kettering, Northamptonshire NN15 6NJ | 01536 512475