It may not tick many educational or cultural boxes, but sometimes kids just want the kind of fun that only theme parks can provide. Cornwall can’t boast anything on the scale of Alton Towers or Thorpe park, but Flambards in Helston is the closest thing and it has plenty rides, ranging from the ones from which you can hear screaming from miles away to more gentle types suitable for younger children.
The centrepiece at Flambards is the Skyraker 001, a vertical tower that subjects dangling riders to a spinning plummet from a great height – this one is for older children only. ‘Extreme Force’ is a giant pendulum that swings you dramatically back and forth until finally hurling you through a 360 degree swoop, flipping you upside down briefly, while Thunderbolt is a high speed spinning, tilting assault on your centre of gravity. There’s a more traditional rollercoaster, a river log flume and some less aggressive rides that are more about the view over the park than the goal of scaring yourself senseless.
If your family is split between those who champ at the bit to get on the rides and those who feel sick just thinking about them, Flambards has a variety of ways to enjoy the day that are less likely to induce nausea. The ‘Hands on Science’ exhibition has an addictive laser maze, there’s a miniature aviation museum, an adventure playground and a Victorian village to wander through.
Crealy Park, on the north coast not far from Padstow, is less well known than Flambards primarily because it has fewer of the big thrill rides. Teenagers may find Crealy more tame but it’s ideal for families with younger children, since more of the park is accessible to them. There’s a log flume and a raft ride, plus a slightly smaller version of Flambards Skyraker ride, ‘The Beast’. The rollercoaster here features a cute dragon, there’s a bouncy dinosaur ride and a low-level ‘Pony Express’ – all guaranteed not to intimidate young children. Away from the rides, the kids’ Agility Trail and Junior Driving School are the big draws.
Opening dates and times for both Flambards and Crealy vary enormously through the year, so always check their individual websites before you head out.
Helston, Cornwall, TR13 0QA, Tel. 0845 601 8684
Crealy Great Adventure Park
Tredinnick, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 7RA, Tel. 01841 540276