Winter remains the quietest time for UK theme parks, but with multiple February Half Term openings, we have no excuse not to brace the chilly February air and squeeze in a week of coasters, shows, and family fun, before March rolls around and the season starts for real.
This February, Thorpe Park will be opening for the first time since 2009 over the Half Term period.
Brainiac Live, Thorpe Park’s popular live science show that featured in the special event and activity line-up at the Big Easter events last year, will be taking over the park for February Half Term.
The theme park only recently confirmed the full line-up of rides that will operate during half term, which will be Stealth, The Swarm, Flying Fish, Depth Charge, and the Angry Bird attractions - King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems, and the Angry Birds 4D Experience. An interesting handful of rides, which are very varied, and mostly clustered towards one end/certain areas of the park. As Brainiac Live! is aimed towards families more so than thrill-seekers, it’s good to see Thorpe Park still opening up the likes of Stealth and The Swarm for visitors, alongside the more family-friendly Angry Birds Land attractions.
In keeping with the fun, interactive science theme of Brainiac Live, guests will have the chance to participate in creating their own experiments, at one of several “Brainiac In Training” stations scattered around the Resort.
Whilst it’s great to have Thorpe Park open earlier than usual in the year, especially so to spend a day with the family and to have the opportunity to ride Stealth and Swarm before the main season starts in a kind of “bonus” week, we mustn’t forget the ongoing construction of Thorpe Park’s 2016 installation (supposed “dark” ride). Those planning on following this brand new attraction right up until its 2016 opening date, will hopefully have the chance (depending on which areas of the park are open to guests), to have a sneak peek over the Half Term opening. If not, the whole park opening in March isn’t too far away anyway. We will undoubtedly learn more about the ride throughout this year.
Thorpe Park is charging £12.50 (currently) per person for an Early Bird entry ticket for Half Term, and unfortunately there is also a £5 fee for Standard Merlin and Thorpe Park Passholders. If you’re a VIP or Premium Merlin Passholder, or Thorpe Park Premium Passholder, you can go for free - you just need to register your place on the park's website, the same as you do for Fright Nights.
On that subject, Thorpe Park has also confirmed the details of its brand new Premium Annual Pass. The inclusions are as follows - a year of entry to Thorpe Park, as well as car parking, the standard Passholder 20% discount on food, drink and merchandise in the park, and free entry to special events such as Fright Nights.
The Thorpe Park Premium Pass is a fantastic option if you are local, and you visit the park on a very regular basis, particularly if you drive, and want to make the most of Thorpe Park’s popular events (like Fright Nights), without incurring the £5 or £10 additional fee associated with Thorpe Park Standard and Merlin Standard Annual Passes. The Thorpe Park Premium Pass allows guests that only really visit Thorpe Park to go one step further and benefit from a few more inclusions that will round off their day very nicely.
If you are planning visits to other Merlin attractions in the area and even around the rest of the country (such as the London Eye and Dungeon, Alton Towers and LEGOLAND Windsor), it’s probably better to look into a Merlin Annual Pass instead, Standard or Premium, which gives you entry into every Merlin attraction in the UK for 12 months.
The Enchanted Village construction is well underway over the winter at Alton Towers and is still on schedule to open on the 18th of April 2015. It’s unfortunate this date falls 2 weeks after the Easter holidays, but considering this (previously rumoured) brand new on-site accommodation was confirmed in summer of 2014, it has been built very quickly. Guests visiting Alton Towers towards the end of 2014 could enjoy a preview of one of the Enchanted Village’s Lodges, temporarily located across from the Towers and entrance to X-Sector.
Bookings for the Enchanted Village are being taken right now, with Alton Towers apparently very confident the cabins and treehouses will be finished on time. The theme park ran an up to 30% discount on early bird bookings for the Enchanted Village throughout January, to encourage bookings.
Guests can see on Alton Towers’ website floor plans of the Treehouse accommodation and highly detailed photos of the rooms and facilities in each Treehouse and Lodge.
While all the on-site accommodation at Alton Towers is known for being high quality, it looks like we can expect the Enchanted Village will be the top end of the resort's three on-site options.
More information has now emerged regarding the high ropes course that appeared on plans from Alton Towers a few months ago. The Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest will be located in the woods near the Enchanted Village, and will offer an adult course with bigger challenges, and a junior version for young adventurers - featuring more child-friendly treetop challenges on a slightly smaller course.
Earlier on in January, rumours emerged regarding the old Beastie site at Alton Towers, now apparently a construction site. It is believed to be the site of a new family rollercoaster, to sit on the site of the old Beastie, since this was removed at the end of 2010.
If it is a new rollercoaster, its close proximity to CBeebies Land would most likely mean we could see a thoughtful new addition to CBeebies Land in 2015, along with a small expansion. Considering the great popularity of CBeebies Land with younger guests, a new attraction for that land would make sense (as opposed to a coaster with a stand-alone theme), and as there aren’t any rollercoaster-style attractions currently in CBeebies Land, this would make for a slightly thrilling experience for first-time rollercoaster riders and their families to enjoy.
Alton Towers will be uncovering its turnstiles briefly this month, for the annual February Half Term opening. Despite the extremely popular Moshi Monsters taking over the park for the past two February Half Term events at the Towers, the CBeebies characters will be taking their place instead for 2015, bringing a plethora of Half Term shows, activities and treats with them.
Justin Fletcher, the famous CBeebies entertainer, will be appearing at CBeebies Land on the 21st and 22nd of February, in a series of live sing-a-long performances. Guests wishing to visit Alton Towers on these dates are strongly advised to book in advance, as the Towers are anticipating high demand for limited availability tickets.
Mr Bloom and the Veggies, another CBeebies favourite, will also be performing in live shows at Alton Towers from the 14th to 20th of February, and throughout the Half Term events, all your favourite CBeeBies characters will be roaming the park.
For those of us more interested in taking on some of Alton Towers' famous rides over Half Term, the park will be opening up Nemesis, Air, Blade in Forbidden Valley, Runaway Mine Train in Katanga Canyon, Duel in Gloomy Wood, Hex in the Towers, Sonic Spinball, the entirety of CBeebies Land, and a scattering of family attractions in Cloud Cuckoo Land and Mutiny Bay. The Smiler, despite its ongoing intense popularity will remain closed with the rest of X-Sector and Dark Forest, until the season officially starts in March.
February Half Term at Alton Towers will follow the same operating hours as Thorpe Park - from 10am until 4pm, from Saturday the 14th to Sunday the 22nd of February. If you are an Annual Pass Holder, entry is free, and if not, don’t worry - tickets can be purchased online currently for £17.25pp for adults and £13.50 for children.
Chessington World of Adventures
Chessington will also be open over the February Half Term period for “African Adventures” events.
A small collection of attractions will be operating, including the family-favourite Bubbleworks, Scorpion Express, Hocus Pocus Hall, AMAZU TreeTop Adventure, Seastorm, and the Carousel.
Families can enjoy the African Adventure quiz trail full of facts about the animals who call Chessington Zoo home, as well as visiting these residents in the SEALIFE Centre and Zoo. Street theatre performers Safari Explorers will be entertaining guests, as well as daily Zoo animal shows, and Madagascar characters will be dotted around the park for fans to meet. All in all, it sounds like a great way to spend the day at Chessington.
Chessington will operate on the same opening days as Thorpe Park and Alton Towers - 10am to 3pm, from Saturday the 14th to Sunday the 22nd of February.
There is now just a month left to go until the UK theme parks re-open their gates for the start of the 2015 season, and thankfully, most of the winter is behind us already. We can make the most of the already noticeably longer days by paying our nearest theme park (or several) a visit this February Half Term.