Are your kids lovers, or haters? I’m talking about rollercoasters, and mine have been like chalk and cheese. I remember taking Evan on Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland Paris when he was 6. I thought he’d be fine. I was totally wrong. As I sat behind him in the one-seater coaster, and listened to him scream his tears, it was the longest 2 minutes of my parenting life.
*The law requires me to declare third party partnerships at the top of any articles written in collaboration with a brand. However, I did not receive payment for this post, and all opinion, words, and imagery are my own. You can see more disclosure at the end of this post.
There’s definitely something though, about hitting the magical 1.4m height goal that changes your perception on rollercoasters. Evan, having previously been such a timid theme park goer, was suddenly transformed overnight into a proper thrill seeker. The average age for hitting 1.4m sits somewhere between 9 & 11, so he was relatively late to it. Spurred on by his older sister, who has always loved to scare herself – she’s actually climbed SWARM with her dad, who used to do some marketing at Thorpe Park – Evan finally decided it was time he made the most of his Merlin Annual Pass, and took Jason off to Thorpe Park for a boys day out.
Over to Jason:
We discussed on the way what we might do first. X had been a previous favourite, requiring a height of only 1.2m to ride, but it had been updated with a Walking Dead theme for 2018 – so maybe a bit too scary now? it was too cold for the drencher that is Tidal Wave, also a previous favourite. We decided that SWARM would be a good place to start – it’s the newest ride at Thorpe Park and definitely the smoothest.
Our Annual Passes allowed us to go straight through the barriers, which made us feel very smug as we passed the queues. We then raced over the bridge to The Island Like No Other and headed for The SWARM. We were straight on within 10 minutes!
Evan declared the ride a definite hit; he doesn’t give marks out of 10, but if he did, my guess from his enthusiasm is that it would probably be a 9. We did it twice more later in the day. Buoyed by a confidence-building first big ride, we headed over to Nemesis. Easy-peasy, and just like that, we had a thrill-seeker.
Then it was time to chill, with a Nitrogenie ice cream (ice cream made with Nitrogen – very cold!) Stuff at theme parks is invariably quite expensive, but if you present your Merlin Annual Pass, you get 20% off all food and drink in the parks.
We decided to take an early lunch at KFC at 11.45, the perfect timing to beat the lunch queues. While we ate, we debated SAW, Stealth and Colossus, but decided to leave them all for next time; the joy of an annual pass means you can take things in your stride a bit more, instead of panicking to fit it all into a day. Thrills ticked off, we settled on some retro fun. Evan didn’t think he’d ever been on the Dodgems by himself (another rite of height passage) so we buckled up for some hard hitting Pigs vs Birds action in Angry Birds Land.
Finally, we headed back to SWARM where we used 2 Fastrack vouchers to speed things up a bit. You get a £5 off voucher with each VIP Annual Pass. We left around 3, knowing that we could come back another day using our annual passes. My motto – picked up from years of ski holidays – is to never overdo things on the first day!
Happy Height Day Evan!
Disclosure: We have been given free Merlin Annual Passes in exchange for three honest reviews of the Merlin attractions.You can see what we thought of SeaLife Birmingham in this review. Next up will be the London Dungeons.