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Somehow Even Worse Than Expected - Oakwood - 05/08/2021

Serena

Miss CoasterForce 2016
Staff member
Social Media Team
Remember when you were a kid and mum said "you can pick out any sweet treat you want" but the shop only had Turkish Delite and Wine Gums left?

That's how it feels to be an enthusiast in the UK right now. We can finally visit parks again! Sweet, sugary creds! But boy, is the selection dire.

"Thanks mum" I would sigh, grabbing a packet of Werthers Original and pretending to savour them as we made our way on the 2 hour drive to Pembrokeshire, Wales.

It's 1998, and I'm excited to ride my first wooden coaster in the form of Megafobia. It seemed so huge and amazing at the time. But alas, those were the naive, pre-enthusiast days. A foolish child I was, so easy to please. I probably would have thought an SLC was the best thing since sliced bread. *rolls eyes at former self*

So how does Oakwood hold up now, 653 creds later? Is Megafobia worth the mega long drive? Does Speed really have No Limits? Do you still need to bring a packed lunch? Fear not, reader. I have visited this hell hole in search of these answers so you don't have to!

I'd like to sum up my arrival experience with a question: Has Oakwood always looked this abandoned?!

When entering one must trek through vast fields of nothingness just to find a ride.

Oh hey! I found a ride! A water ride called Drenched! It's tall...it's steep...it's...

very much closed. Off to a great start!

Oooh here's another coaster with some sort of pumpkin themeing! It's cute...its spooky...

it's also closed.

Let's hike across the plains and see if we can find Megafobia. There is it! It looks like it's rotting! Cool!

Wow, only 10 people in front of us in the queue, shouldn't be waiting long...

...half an hour later, I board the back row. The entire train smells of mould. The operations are the slowest operations I have ever witnessed. It's truly staggering to behold the slowness.

Megafobia in the back row rides like Grand National now. Too rough to be fun.

Time to bounce back from disappointment on a new-to-me ride, the shot tower: Bounce.

Oh wait, it's closed.

What's that across the sprawling plains of emptiness? Ah yes! Why it's Speed, the UK's first Eurofighter, in all it's orange and green glory.

Speed: No Limits to give you it's full name. And yet, I must say, there are quite a few limits when you decide to run a Eurofighter on ONE TRAIN.

ONE. MEASLY. TRAIN.

The most frustrating thing about this is, Speed is a pretty good coaster! Excellent first drop, nice airtime, hilarious square corner. If, like me, you are a sadist who enjoys Eurofighters, this one has got it all!

Shame we only got to ride it once due the ride boasting a throughput of 24 people an hour.

As far as enthusiasts go, I definitely pride myself on being an enthusiastic enthusiast. Someone at Thorpe recently laughed at how "easily excited" I was to revisit Thorpe for the millionth time. But why hold back the love? I never want to be a jaded enthusiast moaning about how nowhere compares to Cedar Point. Every park is beautiful in it's own amazing / humourous / quirky / crappy way.

But Oakwood. Oakwood was really taking the wind out of my positive sails. The day was starting to feel arduous. No day at a park should feel arduous! That's a feeling I save for work, not weekends!

Redemption almost graced in the form of Waterfall. How on earth does this ride exist?! It is terrifying! It's basically an aggressive bath. I managed to not get soaked, a smugness that has remained with me since the visit.

Should we do the SkyCoaster 'Vertigo' just for something to do? Oh wait, it costs a million pounds. No thanks.

Got in another agonisingly slow queue to reride Megafobia. Managed to get front row and it wasn't as bad. It's not the best woodie in the UK though, that crown now belongs to Wickerman.

It was 2pm. Thoroughly deflated, we decided to leave the park. We actually spent longer driving to and from the park than actually in the park. And that sums up Oakwood.

It may be dire not being able to travel abroad for theme parks right now, but please don't make the same mistake I did and get so desperate that you end up revisiting Oakwood. Not visiting a park at all is better than visiting this dump.
 

gavin

Administrator
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This is why I don't want to ever revisit Oakwood despite needing a couple of creds there. I went once, pre-enthusiast, during Megafobia's opening year and really liked it. I somehow don't think I'd be quite as enamoured now.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Sorry to hear you didn’t have a particularly nice day at Oakwood @Serena. I actually had quite a nice couple of hours there when I went in 2019.

I’ll agree that Megafobia in the back is a bit too rough to be enjoyable, though; I didn’t particularly like the back, in spite of the stronger airtime in sections, as I found the back was a bit brutal. It must have deteriorated a lot since my visit for it to be comparable to Grand National, though; no other woodie I’ve ever done has even come close to the roughness of that thing!

Controversially, my favourite row was actually the front; front was quite good fun, and nowhere near as rough as the back! Even on the front, though, I’d say it was still a bit too “rickety” to be one of my all-time favourite coasters, and it doesn’t have the consistent pacing and thrill that a newer woodie like Wicker Man has. Personally, I much prefer Wicker Man to Megafobia, as I find it a bit faster and more consistently paced, far smoother than Megafobia in any seat and generally far more rerideable.
 

Will

Strata Poster
Going forward, when I'm having a bad day, I think I'll just have to start thanking whichever deity that I'm not at Oakwood.

On a serious note though, it's really saddening to read. The ride offering there has never been the best, but visiting in the late 2000s (admittedly before I'd left the UK for coasters) it was a charming little park and despite the obvious effort, a Live there was always a staple and a joy. I hope you managed to grab the Porthcawl cred on the way home to make up for it?
 

nadroJ

CF Legend
Hate to say I told you so but, urgh, I told you so. It's a very bleak state of affairs, even down to the 'new' coaster being down. I don't really know what they're playing at and can't even begin to try and understand what's going on there, but I am glad you followed my advice and brought a packed lunch because if there's anything that can make a crappy day at a park even worse it's awful food. Tesco meal deal all the way!
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
I really liked Oakwood when I went for a few hours in 2019; I believe my exact words in my trip report at the time were “real hidden gem of a park” or something along those lines! I thought it had all the right rides for a park its size, some really nice theming in places, stacks of charm, a lovely location, and generally looked clean and well-maintained. It might have helped that the park was deserted, making queues next to non-existent for every ride we went on, but I certainly had a lovely time at Oakwood that day. I had a slightly less pleasurable visit on a school trip in summer 2016, as queues were much longer and seemed to move much more slowly due to very high FastPass sales, but I still very much liked the park, and found it just as charming as I did in 2019.

However, I’ll admit that recent reviews don’t paint a particularly good picture of what the park would be like if I were to go back any time soon. COVID has clearly hit the park very hard, and the recent musings of @Serena, @nadroJ and Scott from PBE, amongst others, haven’t exactly instilled me with great confidence, I’ll admit.

Coincidentally, I was actually on holiday with my family in Pembrokeshire on the weekend of this report being posted, so I saw a lot of Oakwood adverts, and they got me thinking “I’d really like to go back to Oakwood at some point; it was a really nice park”; we didn’t go on this particular holiday because we were with my grandparents, who I think would rather keep their feet firmly on the ground (or on the beach, in this instance). However, the reviews have made me think we may have made the right call by not going, as sad as that makes me. I don’t know; I may have really enjoyed Oakwood had I gone, as I always did in the past, but the reviews aren’t exactly encouraging.

Really sad times for Oakwood… they don’t deserve to fail because of COVID.
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
Staff member
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^ When you went “for a few hours”. Yep, it’s not even worth half a day by the sounds of it!
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
^ When you went “for a few hours”. Yep, it’s not even worth half a day by the sounds of it!
The only reason I didn’t spend longer was because there’s not really a whole lot there. It’s not a huge park, but I found it nice for what it was.
 

nadroJ

CF Legend
Really sad times for Oakwood… they don’t deserve to fail because of COVID.
Oakwood's issues far transcend anything happening because of COVID. I last went in....2018 I think? And it was a terrible day out then. Time before that was 2014 I believe and it was terrible then too. I'm in awe they can even still operate to be honest!
 

Hixee

Flojector
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I went to Oakwood in 2008. Haven't been back since, and struggle to find the motivation to plan another trip. It's a plus two, as well.

Perhaps I'll day trip it one day...
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
I went to Oakwood in 2008. Haven't been back since, and struggle to find the motivation to plan another trip. It's a plus two, as well.

Perhaps I'll day trip it one day...
I guess with COVID about and no/limited opportunities to go abroad at the moment, now’s never been a better time for this sort of thing!
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
It really sucks when you have spent all that time travelling and spent quite a bit of money to have a poor experience.

I have been once back in 2009, had a decent time, but I remember the park having a real wasp issue, I don't believe they were cleaning the park probably as wasps would swarm around the bins and pretty much anyone carrying a sugary snack.

I am very curious to see how speed and megafobia are riding now, because I actually preferred speed on my visit, I don't remember megafobia being rough, but it didn't blow me away and fell a little short on expectation.

Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
 

Coaster

Mega Poster
Oakwood as it is nowadays really makes me sad, because it's not a bad park per say, it's just woefully neglected.

In concept, it could be a really good park. It's in a nice scenic location, has some really decent big rides, two of the biggest coasters in the UK and a pleasant atmosphere. I also love the fact there are some unique rides like the Bobsleigh and Waterfall making it different to other UK parks.

I remember visiting Oakwood in the early 2000's up until about 2008 and it always being an amazing day out, the After Dark events in the summer used to thrive with the live music, fountain show, fireworks and Megafobia running two trains late into the night.

These days the park is in an appalling state and it really hurts, because it could and should be a lovely place. The operations have been awful pretty much throughout Aspro's ownership, but the massive neglect of the entire park feels like it's just being eroded away year on year. Rides like Spooky 3D are literally falling apart and in dire need of TLC, entire areas look abandoned and where we used to see investments like Megafobia, Speed, Hydro, we now get a second-hand Pinfari under an IP they didn't even have the rights to use. It's a joke really.

It's clear that Oakwood have made efforts in places - improving Bobsleigh's queue-line and installing theme music around the park for example. But it comes across as a clear case of them doing what they can with absolutely no budget or guidance from Aspro. It's a sad state of affairs.

Genuinely, Oakwood needs to be purchased either by a family company (as it used to be) or a company prepared to make significant investment into the park. It has potential to be great, but currently offers a pretty terrible day out.
 
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