Lightwater valley theme park is located in North Yorkshire just of the A1 near Ripon. The park has to be one of the easiest parks to get to in terms of location as its motorway most of the way.
Its been a few years since my last visit and having seen some TV ads recently, I got the impression the park has bought a few more attractions so it was definately worth the 2 hour drive from Cheshire to see what has changed.
Date of Visit : 22nd October 2006, Party Size : 2 Adults, 2 Children, Cost of entry with a Bird of prey show £64.00. if you plan on visiting the bird of prey center I recommend buying your ticket with the theme park entrance to save money as its only £1.50 each with a park ticket.
After getting parked up on a slightly muddy car park (bearing in mind this is October) we made our way over to the main entrance, if you dont already know the lightwater site also has some decent factory outlet shops as well as a bird of prey center on the premises. These are located just before you enter the main park. You can visit at anytime after getting a luminous stamp put on your right hand for easy access from the park to the retail outlets. On our way over to the main entrance we are greeted by a very friendly clown who makes a fuss of the kids and informs us about his upcoming magic show later on in the day.
On entering the main entrance only 2 of the kiosks were open which at the time was plenty as there was only us queueing up, after getting the tickets you make your way through a turnstile (bloke on a stool) and into the park.
As soon as your into the park youre already part of the action as the first ride a waveswinger (new for 2006) is directly in front of of you. The park call this ride Skyrider and its a pretty decent smooth ride, although a bit high for a few people. min height 1.2m
In the same area is a lovely old carousel min height 1.0m
Also located in this courtyard is a covered area with some juvenille rides and some dodgems, on the left hand side just behind the carousel is a couple of catering outlets offering various fast food snacks.
After sampling the Carousel and waveswinger we made our way into the main park area. A water ride “toad in the hole” isnt operating at the moment, im sure this wasnt working last time i visited.
The obvious main ride in the park is the signature coaster “the ultimate” when it was built the park claimed the biggest wooden roller coaster, although the track is steel only the lift hills are wooden. This coaster is 1.5 miles long and contains 2 lift hills, its got some great airtime and probably the slowest lift hills ever. After leaving the station and joining the first of the two lifts you get a great view of the park and the north yorkshire countryside.
Becuase of the slow speed of the climb if your in the front car and go over the top you wait a long time for the rear of the train to catch up so your already half way down the hill before the rear cars leave the lift, this is called hangtime and on this ride you are there for quite a few seconds. Once off the hill the trip to the second hill is quite smooth and terrain hugging which adds to the excitement. The second hill seems as slow as the first but the second section of track is through a small forest, again this is terrain hugging and seems very fast. This part of the ride back into the station is very rough I would have hated a rear seat becuase you are thrown about all over the place – it can be quite painful at some points. This was my third of fourth ride on the ultimate and although I will do it again, I feel the roughness does let it down slightly.
The Eagles Claw
Another new addition since my last visit is eagles claw.
Im not a fan of these type of flat ride, its a huge pendolum that swings back and too that spins around as it travels, I wasnt risking a dose of motion sickness this early on in the day and gave it a miss.
Theres a couple of other coasters at Lightwater, Ladybird which is a small childrens coaster and the grizzly bear coaster pictured below, this isnt a bad ride min height 1.2m
Also in the same location is the twister coaster.
This wasnt a bad ride, the final element of the ride the car is free to rotate like a waltzer, which does add to the excitement.
There is also a dark coaster called “the rat” which is themed around a sewer, the walk into the ride and exit are themed very well, its all based around a sewer and has water running down the walls and steel staircases, I got the feeling the ride is a bit old these days and it lacks any real excitement apart the dark element.
The park also contains a good selection of other rides.
This is an enterprise type of ride min height 1.3m this is called “the black widow”, the is operated on a basis of 2 people per gondola, so any single riders have to share with a stranger, I find this odd and its the only park to my knowledge that force 2 riders per car. if you know any others please let me know. Ive had a quick look on huss’s (the manufactures) website and found nothing about this. Im sure they dont do this at Alton Towers.
Above the Octopus ride, min height 1.2m
Falls of terror above is a raft slide type of ride. you walk up the staircase at the back of the ride and choose a tunnel to go down, once you choose the tunnel your given a boat to sit in and down you go. They operate this ride on a 2 person capacity per boat so any single riders arent allowed. Ive seen similar rides at other parks, Oakwood etc that do allow single riders. strange !!
Every park has a pirate ship, Lightwater valley is no different. min height 1.1m.
The park has a decent amount of kiddie rides.
Swan lake pedal boats, A Maze, Lightwater express which is a small train that travels around the park, Spining teacups, Mini ferris wheel, Mini roundabout, Vintage cars, junior carousel, skate karts, trauma tower (which is a drop ride) and the caterpiller coaster. Thats my 5yr old steering the vintage cars.
They also have play areas, sandpits, a wooden fort structure to climb on and plenty of things to keep the younger ones entertained.
Allot of trip reports about lightwater all say the catering is something which lets the park down and I have to agree. Take away fast food is well catered for but any hot meals are strictly between 12-14:30 after 14:30 you do struggle to find decent hot food, in the end we opted for a couple of paninis.
The park need to look at this, if hot food is going to be made available they need to make sure they remove these silly time slots and give people more options. The people in Yorkshire are great at hospitality, they could definately do allot more, Especially as Flamingo land the local competition serve hot food all day.
Bird of prey show
I thoroughly enjoyed this, the guys do a great job of looking after the birds and training them. (although it doesnt always go to plan)
You get to see Golden eagles, owls, vultures and some falcons, they all fly very close to the crowd and the guy giving the demonstration is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, even when the birds decide they dont want to do what he wants them to do. The bird of prey center also have snakes, spiders etc.
The squirrel wasnt in the bird of prey center, this was taken on a walk from one area of the park to another.
A good day out at a reasonable price, the park has come along way since my last visit, its lovely countryside enhance the park well. Its also in a great location just of the A1. The staff are very friendly and great with children.
Would I visit again, definately – I have already penciled in a return trip next year, this time for a weekend taking in Flamingo land and lightwater Valley.
For the full set of photographs taken at this park visit http://ridemad.com/photo/v/light/
Thanks for reading.
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