Tuesday 13 August 2019

Lightwater Valley - review


Last week when we were on our summer staycation visiting Lee's side of the family in Leeds we took our thrill-seeking boys to Lightwater Valley Theme Park in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Having never been to Lightwater Valley before we checked out their website beforehand to see what attractions the park had to offer. Much to their delight they saw a number of rides and attractions they couldn't wait to try including the Wild River Rapids and Jumpin' Jack's Pillows.

Amping up their excitement Lee who had been to Lightwater Valley when he was a child shared stories of his past trips there. Reminiscing about visits to the park not only excited the boys but delighted Lee that he would be recreating memories from his childhood with his own kids. He was also keen to see whether the park would live up to memories.

Travelling from Leeds to Lightwater Valley was easy and straightforward. The journey took just under an hour and we found the park without any issues. The park is located in stunning natural surroundings. Arriving at the park there was ample free parking and staff directing traffic to empty spaces.

Gates, fairground rides, soft play and the playgrounds open at 10am and the bigger rides open at 10.30am. Closing times vary depending on the time of year and weather. On the day we visited the park closed at 5.30pm.

Visiting the park on a Saturday when the weather was lovely I expected it to be very busy. When we arrived there was a relatively long queue but thankfully the ticket desks were well staffed and the staff promptly dealt with customers swiftly and the wait was minimal. 

Navigating the park was easy thanks to the handy map we were given and the numerous signposts dotted around the park pointing visitors to different areas. The footpaths around the park were flat and suitable for prams or wheelchairs. Whilst the park was expansive and felt large especially because it is situated in scenic countryside, walking around the park from rides to attractions was not tiring and the walk from one end of the park to the other was only a short walk. Thankfully for those with tired legs there were plenty of benches scattered around the park to rest on - being pregnant and suffering from the heat I for one loved the number of benches to take a break on. I also appreciate the fact that there were plenty of toilets scattered around the park - a must for pregnant women and families with young children!

For those wanting to see the park without having to stretch their legs there was a miniature train that travelled around the perimeter of the park. We boarded the Lightwater Express Train at the Fairground station which had a beautiful view of the lake with the Swan Boats.

The kids loved the gentle ride on the train around the park and it was a wonderful way to see the sights and sounds of the park with the boys excitedly pointing out what rides and attractions they wanted to try. 

As it was a lovely day we took a picnic with us and were pleased to see a number of benches and areas of grass ideal for laying down a picnic blanket. Even though the park caters well for those wishing to bring a picnic which is great for keeping costs down, the park also had a number of food outlets. I was surprised to see that the type of food outlets varied and included hot dog stands, a cafe, a takeaway booth and a restaurant, giving customers lots of choices when wanting meals, snacks and drinks. Much to the boys’ delight there were also plenty of places to buy an ice cream or slushie drink which were all reasonably priced.

With over 35 rides and attractions, Lightwater Valley really does have something for everyone.

Much to the boys’ delight the park was filled with lots of rides that they could ride for fun and thrills. 

As they love roller coasters and have a fondness for water themed ones the first ride they tried was Splash Falls. With epic views from the top, Splash Falls featured 3 slides -  2 open air ones and 1 chute that takes riders through a dark tunnel. Riders of Splash Falls have to sit in a dinghy before being set off downwards on the twisty slides. For us the only downside to this ride was that you had to have 2 riders per dinghy and as I am pregnant and could not ride the boys had to take it in turns to ride with their dad which meant less ride time.

Exploring the rest of the park the boys found lots of other rides that they could ride alone or with an adult. The rides suitable for young children were vast and some of the boys’ favourites included classic fairground rides such as the Carousel and Spinning Teacups as well as the Wave rider junior pirate ship and the colourful Little Dipper caterpillar rollercoaster. 

H loved the rides he could go on without an adult as it made him feel big like his big brother. He especially loved the Dragon Boats and the Pirate Swinger.

He also loved it when he could go on rides with just him and his brother without their dad. Skull Rock was a firm favourite.

Being mad about cars his favourite ride at the park was the Vintage Car Rally.

T loved the dips, twists and turns of the speedy Ladybird roller coaster which he declared his favourite ride at the park. In fact both of the boys rode the Ladybird numerous times which was helped by the fact that the queue time was minimal.

As Lightwater Valley is home to Europe’s longest roller coaster - The Ultimate - T couldn’t resist giving their signature ride a whirl. With it being a renowned ride and lots of people entering the queue for the popular ride I expect the queues to be long and the wait to be excessive especially as the ride takes approximately 6 minutes. However my fears of a long wait turned out to be wrong and they had finished the thrilling ride in the time it took to buy and ice cream. T declared the ride was spectacularly speedy and lots of fun thanks to the twists and turns. His dad loved the views from the top and the way the carriages hurtled through the forest on the way back.

The boys also saw lots of rides that they said they’d love to ride in the future when a little bigger with the Apollo looking impressive as the swing ride soared above in the blue skies and the Black Pearl looked shocking as the ship rotated 360 degrees.

The only damper to the day was that the ride the boys had most looked forward to riding - the Wild River Rapids - was unfortunately closed on the day that we visited.

As we visited the park on a lovely Saturday in August I had expected the queues to be busy and ride wait times to be excessively long. But much to my delight the queues were short for every ride and the boys managed to go on rides numerous times.

Each ride clearly displayed height restrictions and safety warnings. I loved the colour coding system used with green meaning good to ride, amber meaning okay to ride with an adult and red showcasing could not ride. Thanks to the colour coded height restriction charts the kids could easily understand and see what rides they could and couldn't go on.

Children’s play areas
Even though the boys were happy even with just the rides they were very excited to see that the park also had a number of different play areas too including soft play, playgrounds and mini sand diggers.

The park had an indoor soft play area that catered for children from under 1’s to 7 years. The jungle themed soft play area was split into three separate zones - under 1’s, 1 to 3 year olds and 3 - 7 years. The large, three-storey high indoor attraction included  3 slides, body rollers, obstacle courses and giant bouncy balls. Surprisingly the soft play area was very quiet and as the soft play was included in the price of the theme park ticket I had expected it to be busier. Us adults could rest for a bit and enjoy a drink at the cafe whilst the kids had lots of fun playing. 

The kids also had lots of fun playing at Jesters Jungle Fun indoor play area.

A huge hit with the boys was the Jumpin’ Jacks massive inflatable pillows. They loved jumping to their heart's content and were lucky enough to have the colourful, bouncy pillows to themselves.

They also loved the large outdoor playgrounds. They could have easily spent hours exploring and playing on the largest playground located near the Fairground rides. With slides and impressive climbing frames they were thoroughly entertained. They also enjoyed the smaller playground next to Skeleton Cove which had swings, slides and climbing frames.

Riggmoor Petting Farm
As the boys love animals they were pleased to see that the theme park also had a petting farm. 

The kids loved seeing the rabbits, donkeys and chickens. Not expecting an animal farm at a theme park Riggmoor Petting Farm was a lovely addition to our day and I think it is fantastic that it is included in the price of the theme park ticket. Being pregnant I also appreciate the fact that there were safety notices highlighting the risks to pregnant women of touching certain animals.

Summer Saturday Sessions
As we visited the park on a Saturday we were lucky enough to enjoy live music as part of Lightwater Valley’s Summer Saturday Sessions entertainment which was included in the general admission price.

On the day we visited the tribute act was the Spice Girls who delighted the crowd with renditions of hit Spice Girls songs. They were a fantastic tribute act and the musical entertainment made the day even more enjoyable.

For future Summer Saturday Sessions at Lightwater Valley other tribute acts will take to the stage with Bruno Mars on 17th August, Olly Murs on 24th August and Ed Sheeran on 31st August.

As well as the theme park rides, children’s play areas and petting farm there was also Jurassic Adventure Golf and TreeTops Nets which visitors could enjoy at an additional cost.

Prices at Lightwater Valley are based on height rather than age which I think is a fantastic and fair way to set prices. Prices are very reasonable, especially compared to other theme parks we have been to. If you book online in advance you save money on the tickets. More information on tickets and prices can be found here. Lightwater Valley also accept Tesco Clubcard Days Out vouchers.

At the time we visited the prices of booking online were - 
* Online ticket over 1.3m in height – £22.50 
* Online ticket 1.0m – 1.3m in height – £15
* Online ticket under 1.0m in height – £8 
* Online ticket under 3 years – Free

Other rates for disabled guests and senior citizens were also available. Being pregnant I was pleased to see that they offer pregnant women a discount rate which at the moment is £10 however a Mat B form or maternity exemption certificate has to be shown. As I’ve yet to have my Mat B form and live in Wales where we do not have a maternity exemption certificate I would have had no proof of my pregnancy to get the discount.

Bringing the day to a happy end the boys loved bumping into one of the park’s dinosaur mascots - the cuddly, friendly Jester.

We had a wonderful, fun filled day at Lightwater Valley. As the park is packed full of rides, indoor and outdoor play areas, shows and entertainment plus a petting farm it is amazing value for money and provides so much fun and entertainment for the whole family. I would highly recommend Lightwater Valley to families and cannot wait to go back there again. The boys loved it so much they have declared it their favourite theme park and wish they lived closer so we could visit all the time.

* We were provided with complimentary tickets to Lightwater Valley in return for this review *


  1. Lightwater Valley looks like a great day-out for the family. The animals are adorable and they look well looked-after too, which is always good to see.

  2. Ah it looks like a fantastic family friendly theme park, I love places like these! Glad you all had a fab day out!

  3. I've always wanted to visit Lightwater Valley but it is the opposite end of the country to me so haven't made it yet. Looks lots of fun!

  4. Lightwater Valley looks like a great place for a family day. I know my youngest would enjoy the cars, roller coaster and the train very much.

  5. Ahh! I've not been to Lightwater Valley for years. I used to go often when I was a kid. I rode The Ultimate not long after it opened. hehehe I was terrified. It looks like you had a fab day out x

  6. This looks like such a fun day out, my kids would love that air pillow

  7. Love it when you get to share experiences with your kids that you loved when you were a child. Always feels extra special.

  8. Iv'e never been here as its a bit of a trek from South Wales. It seems a great park for younger teens and younger kids. I'd love the golf myself!

  9. What an amazing place, not been to lightwater valley but our friends have and they recommended it.

  10. I've never been to Lightwater Valley, but I have family up in North Yorkshire who have been and love it x