Not that I am going to get paid for doing a review, I just think it is important for parents of autistic kids to share places and hints and tips to going out (if we can get our kids out that is).
Paulton’s Park is on the edge of Southampton. It is home to Peppa Pig world, has some non themed rides for older kids, but has just opened ‘The Lost Kingdom’… which is dinosaur themed. Dinky is really into dinos, so seems like a logical place to take her!
Before I went with Dinky I checked out 2 things…
- Price. Well, I am a little surprised that there was no carers admission discount. Apparently that would discriminate against disabled people. (I am pulling a face that I cant really put into words).
For a season pass it is double that of a Thorpe Park annual pass, and in the merlin sale at the moment it is only a fraction cheaper than a standard pass which gives entry to 4 theme parks, every sealife centre, shrek, London eye, London dungeons, warwick castle and loads more. So not entirely cheap for the one park.
- the queue assist. For any autistic child a Queue assist is going to make all the difference to a day out. I was a little disappointed to find out that you can only go on each ride once with the queue assist and then you would have to queue for subsequent rides. As Merlin annual passholders we are used to being able to go on any ride more than once as the ride access passes don’t say what rides you can go on. Only Legoland stipulate no more than once in an hour.
You need to take a letter with diagnosis on to be eligible for this policy.
I must admit the way the QA policy worked was new to me, and me being me, my logic kicks in and I get rather irritated as over half the rides on the pass are for Peppa Pig world, which I can tell you Dinky was more than adamant she was NOT stepping foot in there! So we wouldn’t even be accessing all the rides. But I also had to remember that Paulton’s Park wouldn’t be as busy as Chessington or any other Merlin Theme park.
So we set off early as it is a little bit of a way for us. I must say Dinky handled the journey well, not once did I want to duct tape her mouth due to the onset of ‘are we there yet?’.
We got in without a queue and went to the first aid place to pick up the queue assist.
The nurse was lovely and explained how it worked.
We went straight to the lost kingdom. I would have liked to see some of the rest of the park, but I wasn’t there for me. We went straight on the velociraptor as there was no queue. It was my first time on a boomerang coaster. I loved it and so did Dinky.
After we checked out Dinosaur Alive, which was a T-Rex in a pen (man in costume). Dinky loved it! The T-Rex made its way round snapping and roaring at the kids, and the half that didn’t cry, laughed and really enjoyed it!
We went on the dinosaur tour in the little jeeps. Usually it is a bit ‘young’ for an 8 year old, but Dinky thoroughly enjoyed it!
We then went on Flight of the Pterosaur. Both Dinky and I love rollercoasters. All I can say is ‘wow’! For a family coaster with a height restriction of 1.1m and over 4 years old, it was a pretty thrilling ride. The queue assist queue was really quick and the staff really friendly.
We headed back to velociraptor…oh, how different! Trying to use the queue assist was a royal pain! First we had to wait for people purchasing photos to be served before we could get the photo sales people to phone up to the ride operators. We then waited for 3 rides to fill up and file out before we were called up to the halfway point of the exit ramp, and even then we had to wait for a while. Dinky was not impressed and neither was I. The queue was still small enough to have gone round and been on and off again by this point, but Dinky doesn’t cope with being in a line with other people. (I was reminded of that later in the day when we tried to go back on again from the main queue).
We managed to get on cobra and edge… Dinky managed to convince me to go on magma. Roller coasters I can do… I am happy to go on 10 loop coasters and hope for the day to go to Alton Towers and go on the smiler… but a straight up and down plunge isn’t really my thing. In the end it wasn’t as bad as I thought.. Dinky enjoyed it and that is all that mattered.
Over all we had a pretty good day and I cant praise the staff there enough for answering questions and helping us to enjoy our day.
Dinky loved all the dinosaur theming!
We have several ride photos (5, in total) and Dinky managed to come away with a dino teddy and an official guide book.
We also managed to come away with season passes! So we will be returning.
Sure it isn’t perfect, but it is charming and the staff are fantastic. well worth a visit.