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Theme park stays

If you just can’t pack everything into a day at a theme park, a short stay can help you do it all. Being the first one there in the morning and last one there at night is also a great way to beat the queues.

With 2 children, I’ve spent plenty of time in theme parks. We first discovered theme park stays at Flamingoland, which has its own campsite. We got a great deal on pitching our motorhome with theme park tickets included in the price (this was out of season). My children were young at the time, so having our ‘home-from-home’ parked right on the edge of the theme park was perfect.

Now they’re older, it’s all about packing in as much fun as we can. So for everyone else who likes to get every last minute out of a theme park visit, here are the theme parks we’ve found where you can park your motorhome and stay.

Flamingoland, Malton, North Yorkshire

Roller coaster

Flamingo Land has a zoo as well as a theme park, there’s so much to do you really can’t pack it all into a day. We also love that if you’re staying at Flamingo Land you can have exclusive access to ‘twilight rides’ and entertainment after the park closes.

The campsite is within the theme park so there’s no queuing to get in. Just a few minutes’ walk and you can get straight on a ride. The campsite also has its own leisure facilities that are very good, there are 2 pools, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and spa pool, plus a gym.

Packages vary by time of year, but outside peak season you can get theme park access included in the cost of your stay, as well as use of the leisure facilities, which we think makes it great value. The only thing that opens all year round is the Zoo. There are a few more things opening for February half term, the whole park opens from April onwards.

Find out more on the Flamingo Land website

Drayton Manor, Tamworth, Staffordshire

Drayton Manor is a theme park and zoo. As well as some big thrill rides, there’s also Thomas Land for little ones, we definitely needed more than just a day there.  We found the variety of rides and activities great for a group with lots of different ages. The queue could be quite long for some of the rides, so we planned our day to do the most popular rides early in the day or just before closing. It’s open from February, but on selected days (usually weekends and school holidays) until the main season starts in June, then it’s open every day until early September.

The campsite here isn’t run by the theme park but it is within the grounds. It’s a short walk to one of many theme park entrances which helps to avoid big queues at the main entrance. The campsite is nicely laid out so it seems quite peaceful (for a site right next to a theme park) and it has good facilities. There’s a small playground for kids, with a theme park right next door we found that was all we needed.

Because the campsite is a camping and caravan club site, look out for member discounts which are available when you hire a motorhome from us.

You can find out more on the Camping and Caravanning Club website

Alton Towers, Alton, Staffordshire,

It’s a long time since we’ve been to Alton Towers and we definitely need to go again soon. It opened in the 1980’s (it’s not quite that long since we last went) and is still the biggest theme park in the UK, so we couldn’t miss this off our list.

With rides like Nemesis and Oblivion, there’s plenty on offer for thrill-seekers. Our kids are a bit old for CBeebies now, but for younger children CBeebies land must be a big attraction.  Like a lot of theme parks, it’s cheaper to book in advance, so a great opportunity to make a short break of it.                                  
Alton the Star Camping and Caravanning Club site is just over a mile away. We haven’t stayed at this one, but we’ve always been happy with Camping and Caravanning Club sites.  Because the campsite is a camping and caravan club site, look out for member discounts which are available when you hire a motorhome from us.

You can find out more on the Camping and Caravanning Club website

Gulliver’s Theme Parks

There are Gulliver’s resorts in Matlock, Milton Keynes, Warrington and the newest addition near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Like Vista Motorhomes, Gulliver’s Valley near Rotherham opened just after the first 2020 lockdown ended. Rotherham doesn’t immediately say holiday to me, but when we visited with our children, we were surprised to find this lovely little resort in beautiful surroundings.

With fairy tale castles, dinosaurs and colourful characters, these theme parks are for younger children, teenagers would probably find it all a bit tame. The variety of rides for children up to age 12 was perfect for us, with lots of rides we could all go on (our youngest was just below the minimum height for some rides at other theme parks). The JCB construction zone was a surprising hit too.

Gulliver’s Valley doesn’t have its own campsite, but the recently opened Waleswood Caravan and Camping site is less than a mile away. We found it immaculate, there are great views over Rother Valley Country park, it’s won awards too. If you want a non-theme park day just go down the hill to Rother Valley and you can walk round the lake, cycle or even check out the water sports centre. You’ll want to save some energy for getting back up the hill though!

Find out more at the Waleswood website

The Milton Keynes site has it’s own campsite; Gulliver’s Meadow that’s right next to the theme park. You can book the theme park and campsite separately or check the Theme Park Weekender packages that start from April. There’s also a big lake, aqua park and splash park nearby

Find out more at Gullivers Land website

Theme park stays in our motorhome have been great for us. We realised how much we were missing, by trying to cram everything into a day.