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Top leisure parks prepare for summer holidays

By Nathan Briant | Entertainment | Published:

Take advantage of the great summer weather with a trip to one of the region’s several leisure parks.

One of the country’s most popular, Alton Towers, boasts rides suitable for all ages and it was visited by nearly two million people last year.

Younger visitors can take their parents to the park’s new live and interactive show at The Furchester Hotel.

Join favourites Phoebe, Funella, Furgus, Elmo and Cookie Monster and make your way through the hotel’s famous revolving doors before you’re welcome with furry arms into the hotel.

The show will see the hotel prepare for the exciting arrival of Chick Swagger and you’ll be able to sing and dance along to the rock-a-doodle do hit, Tail Feather Shake.

If that’s not for you, then there’s also a chance to join Kyan, Xuli, Lars and Foz to go on a Go Jetters global adventure and join other little thrill seekers fly around the world in a Vroomster. They’ll launch from the Jetpad to help to find the Grandmaster Glitch.

Postman Pat’s Parcel Post ride will also give kids the chance to take control of his van on his delivery route through Greendale.

Pick up the right parcels to deliver to Greendale’s favourite residents as they drive along.

More thrill-seeking theme park fans will be able to enjoy white knuckle rides including Galactica, Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita, The Smiler or The Blade.

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Galactica is still there to thrill, just over a year since it was rebranded and modified, having formerly been the theme park favourite Air. You will ride along it for 840 metres and reach a top speed of 47mph.

It features an 840-metre-long (2,760 ft) track, reaches a top speed of 75 km/h (47 mph), and debuted a dedicated virtual reality experience.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield said earlier this year about his time on Galactica: “Having seen this for real, it certainly makes the exhilaration of space travel possible for people that would never otherwise get to see such amazing sights.”

There is still a great variety of rides to go on at Drayton Manor – ranging from family rides, including its 4D cinema, its big wheel and its carousel, to its thrill rides including the favourite Apocalypse and the newer ride Accelerator. Drayton Manor promises that children on their first-ever rollercoaster will be thrilled by going on it, along with other more experienced riders.

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The coaster begins with a big drop before everyone on board speeds around the twisting track at high speed. Seconds later, you do the whole ride again – but backwards.

Its Air Race ride will also leave your head spinning. Climb into the ride’s plane and take off for a mind-bending journey through the skies.

But it’s a bit of a scary ride – you’ll be turned 360 degrees, swung upside down and towards the ground.

If that’s not your kind of thing, then its zoo and a visit to the kids’ Thomas Land may be in order.

And the one of the best safari parks in the country will also be visited by thousands of people over the next few months.

West Midlands Safari Park is home to a herd of southern white rhinos, which is one of its most popular sights.

That is not to mention the zebras, the prized Ankole cattle, ellipsen waterbuck, ostriches and the eland, which is the largest of all antelope species. You can also see the giant Asian water buffalo and the other smaller ones including the tiny blackbuck.

The world’s rarest deer is also there, along with the endangered barasingha and the armoured greater one-horned rhino.

If you don’t mind going a little further afield, you could take a trip to Legoland Windsor.

The country’s first ever 4D, hand-gesture enabled ride was launched just last month and lets people on it experience a new world of ninjas.

People go through the stages of Zane’s Temple Build, Kai’s Spinners and Cole’s Rock Climb. Then once tackling the activities and practising their Spinjitzu skills, guests are prepared to enjoy the ride.

The ride uses heat, smoke and wind along with hand gestures and you’ll be able to throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning using just their hands.

Up to four people can sit in each ride and their ninja skills will be scored battling against snake tribes, skeleton ghosts and the King of the Skulkuns. By the end visitors will face The Great Devourer – a giant serpent who can only be defeated by working together and demonstrating the best Spinjitzu moves.

More than 20 Lego models can be found in Ninjago World including two five-foot guardian dragons built from nearly 78,000 bricks protecting the entrance, a model of Master Wu and the LEGO NINJAGO heroes themselves.

The first people to be allowed to go on the ride included celebrities such as the Oscar-nominated actress Rosamund Pike, panel show regular Romesh Ranganathan and Liberty X singer, Michelle Heaton.

The new Legoland Discovery Centre in Birmingham will be open by next year. The attraction will be open in the Barclaycard Arena and will be aimed at children who are between three and 10. It will include themed play areas, interactive rides, party rooms for birthdays, a 4D cinema and the popular Miniland area found in every Legoland Discovery Centre and LEGOLAND theme park.

The Miniland in the Barclaycard Arena will be all about Birmingham, and the community will have a chance to nominate local landmarks in a contest to be announced at a later date. Paul Thandi, NEC Group CEO, said: “Merlin’s LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be an important addition to the leisure and entertainment facilities already provided by the Barclaycard Arena. and will offer a number of valuable benefits including job creation and by contributing to the overall tourism and leisure offer in the region.

“It will also complement the venue’s existing, exciting events programme, giving our customers even more reasons to visit.”

Nathan Briant

By Nathan Briant
Senior Reporter - @nbriant_star

One of the Express & Star's Walsall and Staffordshire team.

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