Recently we went on a day trip to Flamingoland which is a theme park and zoo in Malton, North Yorkshire. We went with a group of friends on a coach and from where we are in it took us about an hour and three quarters to get there. It opens at 10.00 am and stays open till 5.00pm (or 6.00pm) and I would advise getting there early as there is a lot to do. I would also make sure you pick up a map when you first go in. It gives a good overview of what is available in the park and also gives you the times for the different shows so you can make sure you don’t miss the ones you want to see.
Flamingoland is divided into different sections, when you first enter you find yourself in the Metropolis section. This is home to a number of extreme rides some of which look very scary. I wasn’t brave enough to try most of these and my son was luckily just under the minimum height for going on these rides, even though he wanted to. Amongst these are the Cliffhanger, which is Europe’s tallest vertical drop ride. Its like a tall tower which you go up slowly in a seat, then hurtle towards the ground. There is also the Mumbo Jumbo which is the steepest roller coaster in the world and it even turns you upside down. If thrills are what you are after there are plenty to choose from. Luckily there is also a selection of less extreme family and kids rides so there is something for everyone. I was daring and went on the Wild Mouse, a small roller coaster. Although not as extreme as some of the rides there is was wild enough for me. There are also more traditional rides like Dodgems which are always enjoyed.
What’s nice about Flamingo Land is that as well as being a theme park it is also a zoo. Wandering out of Metropolis you quickly find yourself in the Lost Kingdom which is home to a wide variety of animals. From Giraffes and Zebras to Lions and Camels there are animals here for everyone. This area seems to have African type animals and is a nice grassy area with good views of the animals. There are plenty of different viewing points. There is also an aquarium here which has a wide selection of fish, including some rather large evil looking piranhas with large teeth. I was rather glad there was a layer of glass between us.
On top of the aquarium is the sea-lion pool. They have a number of different sea lion shows throughout the day and these are well worth a visit. As well as the animals doing really clever tricks they provide a lot of information about the animals and it is really interesting. The show lasts about half an hour and there is usually a big queue. The viewing area does have a large amount of seats, but if you sit near the front you may get wet.
Talking about getting wet, around the Lost Kingdom you can go on the Lost River Ride. This ride takes you on a boat around the area and takes you close to the zebras, lions, giraffes and other animals. You get a really good view of the hippos, which we could not see from just walking. At the end it goes down a giant water slide and you get soaked! Luckily you can pay to dry off in a large booth that blows warm air at you.
Being wet its a good time to visit the Splash zone. As it says this is a wet area involving a lot of rides where you can get wet. At the centre is a large pirate ship which you venture onto only to find fountains suddenly springing up around you. The ship has water cannons which allows you to shoot at people trying to board it.
There is also a ride called Splash Battle where you go on a submarine. You have water cannons that you fire at targets but the people who are watching the ride can also fire water cannons at you.
After all this excitement we needed food. There are a number of different places to choose from, you can get fish and chips, pizza, hot dogs and other things. Its up to you if you want a sit down meal or to grab something while on the go. We stopped for a quick sandwich and a drink as we had so many other things we wanted to see.
After lunch we moved into the Muddy Duck Farm. This is a mixture of more leisurely rides for younger children like the traditional carousel and wacky races, a car you sit in and it goes round a track. There are also a number of farm animals, like Shetland Ponies, donkeys and rabbits. The reptile house is also in this area which has a large assortment of snakes and giant snapping turtles. Some of the snakes are enormous! At the far end of the enclosure there is a area with an adventure playground and the kids had loads of fun climbing up cargo netting and frames. At the far end of this area we found a number of meerkats. This resulted in the inevitable chorus of ” Compare the meerkats” from the kids but they are great fun to watch.
Unfortunately at this point we had to leave. There was quite a lot of the park we did not get to see and I would love to go back and explore further another time. Although it is expensive, like most theme parks are these days, it is well worth a visit as you have plenty to do and there is something to suit everyone.