Take the kids to … Paultons Family Theme Park

In a nutshell
When Peppa Pig World opened at Paultons Park in 2011, it instantly put this low-key family-run theme park on the map. The pastel-coloured world of Peppa and friends, complete with gentle rides, tinkling music and grassy hummocks, was an instant hit with pre-schoolers. Now, the owners have set their sights on families with older children, having opened a new £9m dinosaur-themed world, Lost Kingdom, with six new rides and 27 animatronic dinosaurs.

Best thing about it?
We loved the sense of space, the beautifully kept grounds and laid-back feel. Peppa Pig World can get busy but when we visited on a sunny May weekend the queues elsewhere in the park were short to non-existent. The Jurassic-themed landscaping in the Lost Kingdom is impressive and the new Flight of the Pterosaur suspended rollercoaster is just the right side of terrifying.

Fun fact
The largest animatronic dinosaur in the Lost Kingdom is the Argentinosaurus, which is 12m tall and 23m long.

What about lunch?
There are plenty of shady picnic spots and a good choice of restaurants and kiosks serving the usual theme park fare of burgers and hotdogs. A chicken burger and chips, with drink, at the new Base Camp cafe in the Lost Kingdom is £6.45. Tea is £1.65, coffee £1.90.

Exit through the gift shop?
Budget for some Peppa- or dino-themed merchandise on the way out – or prepare for the mother of all meltdowns on the car journey home.

Getting there
Paultons is well signposted from exit 2 of the M27 on the edge of the New Forest national park. The nearest mainline station is Southampton Central, 8 miles away, then a 15-minute taxi ride to the park.

Value for money?
Entry prices are based on height. Children over 1m, and adults, pay £30 on the gate, £25.75 in advance (online). Children under 1m go free. The good mix of rides, plus water-play areas, adventure playgrounds, nature trails, penguin pool, aviaries and assorted small creatures in the Beastie Burrow add up to a full and rewarding day out.

Opening times
Open daily from April–September; weekends and school holidays February, March, October, November and December; closed 24 December-mid-February.

The verdict
9/10. So long Peppa, hello Pterosaur.


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