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Thorpe Park Colossus
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The best theme parks in and around London

You don't need to travel far from London to get your fill of rollercoasters, Lego cities and pig-themed attractions. Here's our guide to the best theme parks near London

Lucy Lovell
Written by
Lucy Lovell
Rosemary Waugh

London can be a pretty thrilling place to live – and sometimes just because you made the last tube without having to run like a loon for it. But for adrenaline kicks of a different kind, look no further than our guide to the best theme parks in and around the city. At some of them, you’ll find the nation’s most scream-inducing rollercoasters and at others you’ll get something a bit more gentle and suitable for little ones. Peppa Pig, anyone?

And if you’re still in the mood for more heartbeat-raising activities, read our list of the best extreme London fitness classes or try these outdoor pursuits. At least you’ll sleep well afterwards.

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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 £35; 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 wholesome day out that’s suitable for all ages

There’s something so pure about a trip to Legoland. Is it any surprise this decidedly British theme park is found at Windsor, one of Britain’s most genteel and niche towns? No, not really. Because this lovely place gives you the chance to see little ones squeal with delight on child-friendly rides before joining in their total joy at seeing some amazing LEGO creations (including London made from the colourful bricks).

For 2021, they’ve opened LEGO Mythica, where LEGO creatures come magically to life. It includes an interactive water ride and a flying theatre.

Anything else I should know? If you’re canny and book tickets in advance, you can save up to 40% off the gate price. They also do some good Meal Deal offers.

Price: Online saver tickets from £29 – £44.

Get there: Take the train from London Paddington to Slough (15 mins, approx.) and then a bus (30 mins). If you’re driving, it’s about 45 mins from central London.

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 £24; 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. 

  • 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 £45.50 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. 

More trips outside of London?

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