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A Storm Blows away a Pig - Paultons Park Trip Report

JoshC.

Active Member
Is this the first UK trip report of 2021 on here? I think it might be!

I figured I post a little rambling about my trip to Paultons yesterday. I was just going to post in the Tornado Springs thread and echo everyone else's praises, but meh, here will do..

My first, and before yesterday, only, visit to the park was back in the summer holidays of 2019. I went with my mum and then 4 year old brother, and had an enjoyable day, couple of minor operational issues, but on the whole, solid. I was really looking forward to going back for Tornado Springs, and as my mum and brother found out more about it, so were there.

I had wanted to avoid going to Paultons in the Easter break just after they opened, but honestly, temptation was too much, so just organised the trip for as soon as possible. My now 6 year old brother isn't really into Peppa Pig anymore, but he still referred to Paultons as "Peppa Pig World" every time we talked about the park. Not going to lie, I was a little worried that this trip was going to turn into a day of being camped out in Peppa Pig World, with a Mack spinner just teasing me from a few hundred yards away! Fortunately, it ended up being pretty much the opposite!



Tornado Springs
Honestly, everything about this area is fantastic. It's very nicely themed and styled, whilst feeling very cohesive. There's nice spots of humour dotted around the area. It all feels very complete, and well thought through. There's some theming elements which feel a little cheap (in particular, the hay bales stuck out like a sore thumb for me), but I think that says more about the quality of the rest of the theming.

Storm Chaser
First rode this a little after 11, in back row. The only Mack spinner I've done before is D'Wervelwind at Toverland, which I found really quite spinny. Storm Chaser however, felt quite tame as a spinner on my first ride. Not much spinning, just a solid, fun coaster.

However, returning to it at the end of the day (when it was basically walk on), it really had settled in nicely. It wasn't spinning like crazy, and even off ride, it didn't look fast, but you certainly felt it. It had some good whip, and the helix in particular was intense. We managed an extra 4 rides at the end of day, and I have to say, I felt a bit sick after the last one!
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Cyclonator
This type of ride isn't for me, but with my brother just hitting the 1.2m mark, he was eager to try it out. Him and my mum loved it. I enjoyed watching it from a rather comfortable bench nearby. He came off saying it's his absolute favourite ride!
(Though on Wednesday, he said the same thing about Quantum at Thorpe after his first ride on that. Oh to be young again...)
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It is actually a very dominating ride to look at!

Windmill Towers
When I saw "a Tikal" (if you know, you know) was coming to the UK, I was excited. I was very happy that these were on a good cycle, and they're great fun. They don't quite have the same aura as their Phantasialand-counterpart, but still great fun.
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I like the fact the towers share a queue line but run independently

Everything else
I won't go into everything else in detail, as we didn't actually do everything else. But in short, Tornado Springs is extremely well rounded as an area. Perhaps the most well rounded, complete themed area in the UK? And possibly one of the most well rounded I've done. There's something for everyone, and with the further addition of Farmyard Flyer next year, that only adds to it. A family could easily spend a very long amount of time there and not get bored.

Had lunch in the Diner there, which was nice. On the pricier side for theme park food, and maybe not quite the best value, but I enjoyed my chicken burger meal. They also had a good array of desserts on off, but I didn't end up trying one. Something for next time!

Lost Kingdom
The Vekoma duo are a very solid pairing for the park. I like all the junior Boomerangs I've done, and the simple Velociraptor layout is one of my favourites.
In honesty, I don't rate Pterosaur that highly as it doesn't seem to do much, but clearly it's enjoyed by the masses, and my brother really enjoys it.

For me, the highlight of the area is the Dinosaur Tour Co. truck ride. Nice simple concept, with some good animatronics and figures, and a couple of special effects along the way. I really enjoy it.

I'd say one of the biggest let downs for the area is just how cheap some of the animatronics look in the area. I'm not expecting anything Disney level of course, but there's some around which look like Wish-versions of others within the area. As I understand it, the park were a little disappointed with some of the figures at the time, but are stuck with what they have. It seems as though lessons were learnt though as no such mistakes are in Tornado Springs!

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The queue for Pterosaur was always very long-looking. This is round the corner to the entrance of the ride, but only took 25mins

Cobra
Cobra is still my favourite ride on park. I have a soft spot for Gerst bobsleds, and this one is fab with it's trip of airtime moments at the end. I hope that this section of the park does get some attention soon though, as whilst I have no problems with unthemed areas generally, it does feel a little lifeless compared to the rest of the park.

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Covid measures in Cobra queue - these high fences did make it a slightly claustrophobic experience!

Peppa Pig World
We didn't step foot anywhere near Peppa Pig. My brother didn't care about Peppa Pig and he wasn't sad when he was told he missed out on going to Peppa Pig. Quite an endorsement for the rest of the park from someone who was calling the park "Peppa Pig World" the day prior!

Operations
A less-positive thing to say now, sadly. But this is something I think needs stressing.

One thing which I think has been overlooked with the introduction of Storm Chaser (at the very least, I had overlooked it), is that it's the first coaster at the park to run multiple trains. And being a Mack, it eats through its queue. The rest of the rides in Tornado Springs also had good, quick moving queues.

One thing which this does is highlight how painfully low some of the other rides' throughputs are. The Lost Kingdom coasters were running okay and obviously can only run 1 train at most, but it still shows. Cobra was running just 3 cars and the queue went through at a snail's pace. Magma and the chair swing were dispatching once every 10 minutes when I was queueing for them. Some rides were genuinely a chore to go on because of how slow their queues were. This coupled with some inaccurate queue times was a bit of a bug of mine.

Now it's hard to pinpoint a reason for this. Is it just because it was only the 4th day back with guests? Are Covid restrictions impacting throughputs? Is it just because it's Easter holidays? A combination of all three? I know I had similar issues on my last visit, so I do think it's a slight problem the park now faces.

The park also felt very busy, not helped in some areas (Lost Kingdom in particular) where queues were spilling out of their entrances. The car park was also very full looking too. It's obviously not for me to say about capacity and gate figures and all that, but I know that at one point the park was 'sold out', and then they introduced more tickets online. Personally I think that whatever number they let in should be seen as very much near the upper end of the number of people they let in at the moment, because otherwise it may have genuinely effected my day. I dread to think of how busy Peppa Pig World felt.

The park have grown, successfully. But now they're at a point where some of their rides don't quite cut the mustard operationally speaking. Whether they need to look at introducing more rides to compensate that, or replace ones which don't quite fit, or just change things slightly, I don't know. But I think they need to do something.


Final Thoughts
I don't want to leave things on a downer, because I had a fantastic day at the park, and I'm extremely impressed with the work they've done with Tornado Springs. I look forward to its expansion and what they come up with next.

I think the best thing though is to once again just reiterate again my little brother's thoughts. Prior to yesterday's visit, though he enjoyed the park, Paultons was "Peppa Pig World" to him. After the visit, the park is now Paultons, and is home to his favourite thrill ride. And that's exactly what the park need to be doing right now.
 
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