Our day out at Paultons Park *snort*
We hadn't been to Paultons Park since Archie was 18 months and with Jesse approaching his 2nd birthday and Archie now a gangly 4.5 year old, we were excited to be invited especially to see how things had changed since our previous visit. Once we'd picked up our tickets on arrival and Archie had been measured and presented with his purple height band (handy so they don't have to check their height on every ride), we made a beeline for Peppa Pig world. We knew it would be busy during the Summer holidays so we queued up for a couple of the smaller rides first and then had an early lunch so our tummies would be full whilst we waited for Grampy Rabbit's Sailing Boat and the Queen's Flying Coach ride.
We found that the queue times decreased after lunchtime at around 1pm when the majority of visitors seemed to venture to the rest of the park. We managed to hop on the new rides fairly quickly (both had a 10 minute queue) and most of the others, suffer through a [sweltering] stint in George's Spaceship Playzone (hint: bring socks!), devour our delicious ice-creams and bump into Mummy and Daddy Pig. After all that excitement, we let the boys change into their swimming shorts and headed over to the Muddy Puddles splash park (hint: don't assume you're safe keeping watch from the sides, I ended up more saturated than most of the kids on exiting but it was a nice way to cool down).
We didn't realise that there's a bigger splash park in The Lost Kingdom that's worth a look if the Peppa Pig one is too busy. We spent the majority of our time in Peppa Pig world as the boys are fairly young and we weren't sure how much there would be for them to experience in the rest of the park but we were pleasantly surprised when we finally started exploring.
Before kids, I was a total adrenalin junkie; I couldn't wait to gain an extra inch each year just so I was tall enough to make it on the latest ride and prove how fearless I could be. Archie is the same, the bravest 4 year old I know, and he's desperate to hop on every big ride with us, throwing his arms in frustration when he realises he's just a few inches too short or a few years too young.
When we entered The Lost Kingdom, and saw the Flight of the Pterosaur fly above our heads, there was no way I imagined that Archie might be able to ride. I was astounded that being over 1m and 4 and a half, he was indeed allowed and I've never seen him quite so excited (and that's saying something). There's something fantastic about a place that allows a 4 year old to exercise their bravery, to be equals amongst their grown-ups, to ride a rollercoaster that we'd normally deem way too scary for them, when in fact we really don't know their limits at all.
After spending time on the big and small rides of The Lost Kingdom (there's even a smaller rollercoaster any babies over 12 months are able to ride), we headed over to the log flume which Archie found utterly underwhelming after his rollercoaster experience and were just about to let the boys ride the miniature seal flume (which was Archie's first experience of being able to go on something alone on our previous visit) when the rides started to close and we spent a very confused few minutes pondering why.
As we're usually those visitors who end up leaving mid-afternoon to skip the traffic and get home with plenty of time to spare before bed, I was surprised to find we'd been having so much fun we hadn't realised the park was actually closing. There were animals we hadn't seen, rides we hadn't explored and shows we'd missed (especially saddened to miss the dinosaur encounter!), things we almost certainly would've had time for if we'd been a little smarter, arrived 30 minutes earlier and explored areas of the park before we'd tackled Peppa Pig world instead of naively thinking there wouldn't be much else there for the boys at their young ages, when in reality, the whole park was tailored for them.
You'd be forgiven for thinking Paultons Park couldn't cut it amongst the big guns, but actually it has something none of those other theme parks have; it gives our littlest ones the biggest confidence, it allows them to exercise the fearlessness we don't realise they have inside them and it leaves them so excited that they won't stop nattering for days and telling everyone they come into contact with about the "massive rollercoaster I went on and Mummy wouldn't stop screaming but I wasn't even scared a little bit". I'll just be going now..