Are you looking for fun, thrills and exciting rides? Heading to one of the UK’s many incredible theme parks is certainly a good idea. Fun for the whole family, there are parks up and down the nation to discover.
But how accessible are theme parks for those with limited mobility? This is an important question for some older people who rely on a stair lift and young children with disabilities. This guide dives into theme park access, looking at just how wheelchair-accessible theme parks are and what the biggest parks have to offer.
Thorpe Park is working hard to be a great theme park for disabled people. They spoke to us about what it means to them that their park is accessible: “Accessibility at our resort is one of our top priorities; we are constantly reviewing our accessibility procedures, and we aim to ensure every guest can enjoy their visit to the island like no other without accessibility being a limitation.
“In fact, as part of our long-term plan and from reviewing our producers and guest feedback, we have increased the number of rides our physically disabled guests can experience. Thorpe Park Resort has a close relationship with and works alongside BDF (Business Disability Forum) to review areas of the Resort and look into how we can improve accessibility Resort-wide.”
The team at Thorpe Park Mania, a blog dedicated to the park, spoke to us about the level of accessibility from their point of view: “The park is really accessible in the grand scheme of things. It’s quite a small park, so it doesn’t make a day out too daunting. There are very few stairs around the park, and you can get around avoiding most hills too. The park is as accommodating as possible and has been receptive to feedback over recent years, so they’re always willing to improve if they can.”
Located near Chertsey, just 20 miles from London, Thorpe Park is the home of some incredible rides. For those searching for epic thrills, this is the place to be, featuring some of the biggest roller coasters in Europe. Thorpe Park is the ideal day out for families with older children or adults just looking for a good time.
The team at Thorpe Park Mania spoke to us about what they believe makes the park so special: “The thrills! You have the big roller coasters like Stealth, Saw - The Ride and Swarm, as well as some amazing other rides like Rush (a giant swing!) and Detonator (one of our favourite drop towers in the world). But even if you don’t like thrills, or you need a break from them, there are still lots of other things to do. Their selection of water rides is probably the best in the UK, for example.”
Accessibility at Drayton Manor
Drayton Manor is a popular Staffordshire-based theme park which needs little introduction for those familiar with the UK’s theme park scene. It is home to rides for visitors of all ages, including exciting thrill rides, a zoo, woodlands, and an excellent area for young families called Thomas Land – based around the beloved children’s character Thomas the Tank Engine. With a wonderful selection of kid-friendly rides and attractions, Thomas Land helps make Drayton Manor an appealing prospect for every type of visitor.
Donna, from the lifestyle blog Little Lilypad, has visited Drayton Manor and spoke to us about what she believes makes it such a fantastic park to visit: “Drayton Manor is a great family day out. It is not a huge theme park, so it is not overwhelming in terms of size, and all the rides are in close proximity, so you are not spending valuable fun time walking from one side of the park to the other.
“Drayton Manor runs lots of offers for families, so it doesn't need to break the bank. They do work with partner sites, so it is always worthwhile checking on current offers before arriving at the park as buying in advance always saves money.”
Alton Towers is one of the most disabled-friendly theme parks in the UK and, without question, one of the UK’s most famous attractions, entertaining and thrilling visitors for generations. Located in Staffordshire, Alton Towers is a theme park, water park, spa, mini-golf course, and hotel complex, all in one. As such, you can enjoy a day out or a multi-day break. With the incredible array of rides, the theme park has plenty to offer alone, with some of its most famous rides including Wicker Man, Nemesis, and Oblivion.
Chessington World of Adventures is another top family destination and a theme park that won’t fail to delight visitors of all ages. Located in Surrey, this theme park, hotel, and zoo features over 40 rides, with the park based on themes of different world cultures. With 12 unique lands to discover, Chessington provides plenty of variety and some helpful accessibility measures, helping it to become a top theme park for disabled people to consider. Combining your visit with the wonderful zoo of over 1,000 animals will make for a memorable experience.
Not only is Paultons Park one of the best wheelchair-accessible theme parks in the UK, but it’s also loved up and down the nation and always ranked as one of Britain’s best. For families with small children or perhaps those looking to treat their grandchildren, Paultons Park really is a perfect choice. On the edge of New Forest National Park, the 140 acres of parkland is home to the famous Peppa Pig World and an additional 60 rides and attractions. If your little ones love Peppa Pig, Paultons is a must-visit.
Rhi, from the family blog Mummy of Four, has enjoyed Paultons Park with her kids and shares this top tip for visiting: “My advice would be, head to George’s Dinosaur Adventure, the ride over the furthest side of the park, first. As the gates open, eager visitors tend to flock to the rides nearest the entrance first. George’s Dinosaur ride is incredibly popular later in the day, but even without a queue assist pass, the queue shouldn’t be more than a few minutes long first thing in the morning.”
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When it comes to disabled-friendly theme parks in the UK, Legoland is right up there with the best of them. Legoland is an enormously popular family attraction and a paradise for Lego lovers in particular. From the incredible Lego models and sets throughout the park to fun rides, water parks, and play areas, there’s much to look forward to for children of all ages. Adults will have a great time, too, especially if they have a soft spot for Lego. All in all, Legoland is a family theme park that should certainly be added to the to-do list.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one of the UK’s premier theme parks, especially regarding the sheer number of rides available. In addition, there are a host of accessibility features available, meaning there is a good level of disabled theme park access at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It’s the perfect choice when combined with a trip to the seaside in Blackpool, featuring attractions for young children at Nickelodeon Land, family rides, and exciting rollercoasters for thrill seekers, meaning anyone who visits can have a great time.
As you can see, many of the UK’s best theme parks welcome those with limited mobility and extra needs. Of course, some of the rides will not be appropriate for particular individuals, but there is plenty that can be enjoyed. Hopefully, wheelchair-accessible theme parks in the UK will continue to emerge, and theme park access will improve to greater heights, making for an even more pleasant experience for all who wish to visit.
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