Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Kelly Rose Bradford0
Angry Birds Land at Thorpe Park persuades me I can do theme parks
Even before I was a single parent, the thought of a trip to a theme park filled me with several flavours of dread. When my son was younger, even though there would be two pairs of adult hands on deck, my worries would centre around:
- Him getting lost
- Him being abducted
- Him getting sunstroke*
- Him soiling his underwear because of toilet queues/filthy toilets
- My bankruptcy from entrance fees.
*no matter how much cream I put on him, or how I many items of UV protective clothing I swaddled him in; in my mind, toddlers, theme parks and sunstroke went hand in hand. Sigh.
Once he was older – ie. NOW – my fears were (are) based around his certain death on any ride faster/bigger/more powerful than a carousel, or at the very least having a life-changing accident on one (although abduction and bankruptcy still figure, obv). The main issue though, since my separation has been having to chaperone him alone to such places and endure them. Being the only parent having to deal with an entire day of ‘come on this!’ ‘let’s do that!’ with no respite is pretty draining. Especially when you are 40, hate crowds, heights, speed and screaming. But given we live a mere cycle ride from Thorpe Park it was kind of weird we’d never been, so when we were invited along for the launch of Angry Birds Land at the park, I decided we had to accept on the basis my son cannot grow up living within spitting distance of the attraction and never visiting.
Also, we had been offered the chance to stay overnight in the onsite Shark Hotel, and to be honest, 15 minutes up the road or not, a night away from home is a night away home. A no brainer, then.
I decided to ask my son’s best pal along for the ride, too. A cunning plan on my part; they could entertain each other, accompany each other on the rides, and I could sit around texting my friends and posting numerous Instagrams of all the ‘fun’ I was providing not only my own child with, but someone else’s, too. Winner!
We arrived in the pouring rain to check into the Thorpe Shark Hotel – which is actually a block of shipping containers offering one room (they call it ‘Bite Sized’) accommodation. Which might not sound like the best sell, but we LOVED it – there were bunk beds for the boys, a mega-comfy double for me, and a wet room with a shower better than in most hotels I’ve stayed in. The room was clean to the point of sterility, and had a smart TV, and shark decals on the wall. For an overnight stay it was perfect, and oddly, given there were three of us, felt cozy more than cramped. Most importantly, the novelty value of it was huge fun for the boys – they actually didn’t want to leave it to go out into the park initially.
One of the best things about Thorpe Park is that it is compact, and therefore perfect for kids who are of an age where they want to wander off on their own. The Angry Birds Land itself is small and centrally located within the park and I was quite happy letting my son and his chum go off on their own (I only managed to lose them once, so my Mum of the year nomination is still in the bag). As far as the theming goes, the Angry Birds element is deffo not over kill; there’s the Angry Birds Invasion of Detonator ride, Angry Birds bumper cars (or King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems), the 4D movie (this really IS good – your chairs move, you are shot with water, gusts of air, bubbles and smoke. Fun!) as well as the Flock n Shop Angry Birds merchandise store.
Outside of the Angry Birds area, the park offers rides for all ages, from gentle merry-go-rounds to the mega adrenalin rushes of the Stealth, Nemesis, Colossus, and Swarm roller-coasters – not that I went on any of them, but one of my young charges said the Stealth (0-80mph and 205 feet in 2 seconds – GULP) was the best experience of his life… There’s also a sweet little beach area which younger kids (and weary parents) will love on sunny days, as well as myriad places to eat, and a central dome with stores and arcade games.
What else to do?
It really is worth checking into the Shark Hotel – aside from the FUN of sleeping in a shipping container (you may have noticed already I rather enjoyed this…) there are some excellent accommodation and ticket deals which make it crazy not to, and also, the local area around Thorpe Park has lots to offer; Windsor is just ten minutes drive away, and central London is around 35 mins on the train from Staines or Chertsey.
I can’t swear that I’ll be spending my whole summer doing the theme park thang solo with my son, but I reckon I’ll deffo be up for roping a few of his pals in and visiting Thorpe Park again – and not just because it’s so close to home.