As summer approaches each year, some people like to head abroad for their strictly-scheduled leisure time for that year. You don’t have to leave the UK to be heavily entertained however, particularly if you’re the kind of person that likes theme parks that are easily accessible and that cost a mere fraction of the equivalent experience abroad. That’s right: Theme Parks in the UK are still a thing, and they are a popular one at that, and for this reason I’ve ranked the top 5 rollercoaster-containing theme parks in the UK according to how worthy they are of your consideration. Sure, it’s a matter of taste, but I’m betting there will be at least as smattering of agreement between fellow rollercoaster enthusiasts about the choices made here.
Top Spot - Alton Towers
Ok, order in the court… ORDER I SAY! Many of the keyboard-warrior snobs out there will be furious that I’ve made the “obvious choice” of popping Alton Towers – arguably Britain’s most well-known and heavily-visited theme parks – at the top of the list. It isn’t here by default however: it’s at the top spot through merit alone. Not only does Alton Towers have a massive hotel complex and water park, but it also has a theme park that possesses what I feel is the very best collection of rollercoasters in the UK.
There isn’t one single rollercoaster that clinches it for Alton Towers, however: it is the collection of coasters taken as a whole that edges it out by a nose ahead of the competition. The big three of Nemesis, Air, and Oblivion are enough to give Alton Towers an advantage right from the get-go, but when you factor in the steel accelerator by the name of Rita, the steel Psychocoaster in the Dark Forest area and TH13TEEN with its terrifying vertical free-fall drop (the world’s first when it was opened, by the way), it becomes a no-contest, doesn’t it? Even if you were to turn your nose up at this selection of rides, you’ve still got another world first in the form of The Smiler, which was the first 14-loop coaster in the world and still held the record as recently as 2013. 14 inversions is no joke, let me tell you, and if you don’t believe me, then believe the unlucky passengers around me that were treated to a matinee performance of The Lunch Ejection at the Theater of My Stomach Contents. Alton Towers is the biggest, it is the most popular, and indeed it is simply the best theme park for rollercoasters in the UK, period.
2 – Drayton Manor
This oft forgotten-about theme park is no timid choice when it comes to the rollercoasters it sports. If I had to distil Drayton Manor down to its most concentrated essence, I would say that you absolutely have to have a go at G-Force as a minimum. Any ride that pops you to an altitude of 25m in the air before sailing you off into an upside-down drop and multiple loops is going to whet your appetite for thrills – correct me if I’m wrong, I dare you.
On top of G-Force, you’ve got the stand-up ride (literally) that is The Shock Wave that accelerates to 53mph and thrusts you through a double corkscrew as well as a loop and, umm, zero-G anyone? If you like water-based thrills you might want to check out Stormforce 10 as well, which isn’t exactly extreme but it is a welcome change from the usual rollercoaster dry-runs. Get at Drayton Manor through the Manor Website, where you can find out information on booking and what else it has to offer
3 – Blackpool Pleasure Beach
This is where this list got tricky for me since I had to weight up sheer ride stats with the fond memories I have of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This resort isn’t exactly breaking records left, right, and centre with its rides, but it does have some of the oldest rollercoasters you’re likely to find in the UK – wooden rollercoasters of this scale are quite rare to come by.
If you do go to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, be sure to check out The Big One since this is extremely fast and staggeringly tall for a UK coaster. It’s also got Infusion, which is a coaster that lacks in a floor with five loops in total. If you want to be subjected to some serious G-Force (around 4.5 G in fact) whilst being suspended over water the entire time, then this is the resort to visit.
4 – Thorpe Park
Admittedly, Thorpe Park should come above Blackpool Pleasure Beach if you were to look at only the sheer stats of the rollercoasters. I mean, Thorpe Park has the Saw rollercoaster after all, a ride that is supposed to be one of the scariest in the entire world, incorporating a hall-of-horrors section with more traditional open-air inversions and multiple rolls with a top speed of about 55mph. Also, Nemesis Inferno, the sister-coaster to Nemesis is also situated here, with its 4.5 G of force being applied to your body at its most thrilling points.
Thorpe Park only came 4th here because, well, it doesn’t have the history that Blackpool Pleasure Beach does, nor does it have the magnificent wooden rollercoasters of its Blackpool counterpart. So 4th place it is, and the nostalgia/history appreciators in here will be glad of this decision.
5 – Chessington World of Adventures
This one’s straight out of Surrey, my dear fellows, and it’s got a zoo to offer as well as some excellent rollercoaster experiences. These rollercoasters include the Dragon’s Fury and the Vampire, with the former being a massive half-kilometre in length with excessive G-forces applied to its subjects and the latter being another floorless coaster that has the usual thrills but with the added bonus of lateral motion as well, a feature that relatively few coasters in the UK can offer. This can all be booked through the Chessington World of Adventures site, where you will also find some great offers that will help you save money.