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Thorpe Park Colossus
© Daniel Lewis

The best theme parks in and around London

From rollercoasters and animal safaris to Peppa Pig rides and haunted houses, these are the best theme parks in London and near the city

By Lucy Lovell
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Getting your kicks in london is easy. Dash into the tube as the doors close, get an urgent message out on 1% battery, ducking the pigeons flying brazenly low… The list is endless, but we're guessing adrenaline junkies might be reading from a different list anyhow. So for something a little more thrilling, we’ve put together this list of the very best theme parks in and around London.

You’ll find some of the best attractions in the world, boasting everything from rollercoasters and animal safaris to Peppa Pig rides and haunted houses, perfect for family days out around the city. And if you’ve still got any energy left after all this lot, check out our guide to the best outdoor pursuits near London, or these extreme London fitness classes. If that doesn’t get your heart rate going, we don’t know what will.

The best theme parks near London

Thorpe Park

Attractions Theme parks Surrey

Best for: Riding the UK’s fastest roller coaster

One of the leading theme parks in the world, Thorpe Park is a must-visit for adrenaline junkies. The world’s first horror-movie themed ride, ‘Saw’, throws you over a vertical drop of 100ft; Derren Brown’s Ghost Train makes you face the terrifying Demon; ‘The Walking Dead’ makes you scramble to safety; while Stealth – the fastest rollercoaster in the UK – propels people from 0-80mph in under two seconds.

Can’t bear to tear yourself away from these delights? Then stay on site at the Thorpe Shark Hotel (around £110 for a room plus a day pass), which comes with added bonuses like fasttrack (that means no queues for any rides) until 11am. Quick pre-work rollercoaster, anyone?

Anything else I should know? There’s a virtual queueing system for people who are unable to queue, and a full accessibility guide is available to download from the website.

Price: Online from £33, on the day from £55; children aged 2 and under: free

Get there: 32 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Staines, then bus; around 45 minutes by car from central London.

Legoland Windsor Resort

Attractions Theme parks Berkshire

Best for: A fun-filled family-friendly day out

There are few things more entertaining that marvelling at a mini London made out of LEGO. Ok, sure, maybe the numerous rides (more than 55), daily shows and interactive experiences might be a little more thrilling. Just a smidge. Especially when these include a vampire's house party, track racing in LEGO go-karts, and riding the waves of Pirate Falls Treasure Quest.

Anyone taking a trip to Legoland will enjoy a fun day out, but the little ’uns are most likely to have one packed with action. It is after all geared towards ages 3 to 12, so white-knuckle riders probably won’t be bricking it (pun intended) on the majority of the rides.

Anything else I should know? Forward planning pays off here – booking online for parking and meal deals can save you up to 20%, compared with paying on the day.

Price: Online £29, on the day from £47; children aged 2 and under: free

Get there: 15 minutes by train from London Paddington to Slough, then 30-minute bus; around 45 minutes by car from central London. 

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Chessington World of Adventures

Attractions Theme parks Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Best for: A brilliant balance of kid and adult friendly vibes

With more than 40 rides across the whole park, soft play areas for younger tots, a zoo and Sea Life centre, you might find and one day isn’t enough to explore every corner of this theme park. The Vampire rollercoaster is one of the most popular, flinging thrillseekers through the treetops with their legs dangling below them. Rameses Revenge is a stomach-churning water plunge, and Kobra spins explorers through the air on a 90m track at a dizzying 43mph.

There’s options to stay on-site too, with hotels offering fun themed rooms (think Gruffalo and monkey temple-inspired) while the Explorer Glamping site offers luxury tent stays next to the Wild Asia zone.   

Anything else I should know? Save money by booking a late entry ticket – it’s valid from 3pm till closing, which is 6pm on weekends.

Price: Online from £29.50, on the day from £50.50; children aged 2 and under: free

Get there: 34 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Chessington South; around 40 minutes by car from central London. 

Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World
Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World
alice-photo / Shutterstock.com

Paultons Family Theme Park

Attractions Theme parks Hampshire

Best for: Chilling on Peppa Pig’s hot air balloon

Paultons Park is probably best known for Peppa Pig World, where nine rides and interactive characters bring the cartoon to life. But don’t let Peppa hog the limelight, there’s a whole lot more to this resort.

The Velociraptor sweeps through tight bends at 40mph, The Flight of the Pterosaur soars through the sky, and there are wonderful views from the Balloon Ride. Meanwhile, animal fans will enjoy the trip to Little Africa, where you can see African crested porcupines, meerkats and even giant train millipedes. There’s also one of the biggest rodents in Africa, the brilliantly named Gambian pouched rat, and the smallest, the African pygmy mouse. These ones are much sweeter than the ones living under your kitchen cupboards, promise.

Anything else I should know? Wheelchair or mobility-scooter-dependent visitors can enter free of charge. There’s also a Queue Assist Scheme for people who need to use it, and most of the areas are accessible, check out their website for more details.

Price: Online £30.50; on the day £35.75; children under 1 meter: free

Get there: one hour 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Totton, then bus; around one hour 30 minutes by car from central London. 

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