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The UK's best theme parks revealed – from most underrated to cheapest day out


BRITS are spoilt for choice when it comes to theme parks, with more than 500 of them across the UK. 

But which is REALLY the best in the country? As part of our new Best of Britain travel series, we tapped up the experts to find out exactly where you’ll get the best rides, shortest queues – and most bang for your buck.

As part of our new Best of British travel series, we’ve grilled three theme park experts on their favourite parks


As part of our new Best of British travel series, we’ve grilled three theme park experts on their favourite parksCredit: Supplied
Our panel all voted for Alton Towers as the country’s No.1 theme park


Our panel all voted for Alton Towers as the country’s No.1 theme parkCredit: Supplied

Meet our theme park experts 

David Wroe, 34, created his YouTube channel, Loops and Lapbars in 2021, covering the UK and Europe’s amusement parks.

Luke Excell, 32, has been running the YouTube channel  World of Coasters since 2016.

Michael Dean, 17, set up YouTube channel Theme Parks Direct back in 2020 during lockdown, when he was just 13 years old. He mainly covers amusement parks across Britain.

Best value for money theme park 

According to our panel, the smaller parks reign supreme when looking at value-for-ticket-price, thanks to either the entry price or the amount of rides you can fit into a day. 

David Wroe of Loops and Lapbars said: Best value would be Adventure Island in Southend On Sea. We went in 2021 and it looks like prices haven’t changed, still being £20 for an unlimited wristband.

The park has a decent collection of rides, including some bigger thrill machines too.

It’s worth noting that the park doesn’t have its own car park, so it can be a bit costly if parking on the seafront. The service is great too. 

Michael Dean from Theme Parks Direct added: Paultons Park in Hampshire’s New Forest is the best theme park in terms of value for money, with entry from £68.75 for a family of 5 if you book ahead.

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The queues are usually short, which means you can get on many rides in one day, and the food is also a reasonable price too. 

Best theme park overall 

Our panel all voted for Alton Towers as the country’s No.1 theme park. The Staffordshire Park has more than 40 rides and attractions, including 10 main rollercoasters.

This year, they relaunched the iconic Nemesis after a 16-month long makeover as Nemesis Reborn. It’s also home to a water park, hotel complex and mini golf. 

David Wroe said: Alton Towers has a good mix of big thrill rides and family rides, and CBeebies Land is still good fun, even as an adult. But the new addition this year of Nemesis Reborn has cemented this as my favourite UK park.

It gets very busy at time, but it does offer things such as a ride access pass for those who are unable to queue for too long and parent swap, so adults can ride the rides without missing out.

Luke Excell from World Of Coasters said: Alton Towers is a premium park in terms of ticket price, but it really gives you the full experience, from themed hotels to fully immersive rides like Curse at Alton Manor. 

Michael Dean added: This year, Alton Towers has really stepped up their game, with new theming, lots of TLC, and of course the re-opening of Nemesis, that I think is the best rollercoaster in the UK. 

Adventure Island in Southend-on-Sea was rated by our panel as one of the best theme parks to visit on a budget


Adventure Island in Southend-on-Sea was rated by our panel as one of the best theme parks to visit on a budgetCredit: Alamy
Nemesis Reborn was voted one of the best rollercoasters in Britain by two of our panel


Nemesis Reborn was voted one of the best rollercoasters in Britain by two of our panel

Favourite rollercoaster

The panel were surprisingly split on this one, with several mentioned. But Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers managed to claim the No.1 spot, with two out of three praising the newly reopened ride.

David Wroe said: The best thrill roller coasters are The Smiler, Wicker Man and Nemesis Reborn at Alton Towers, Stealth and The Swarm at Thorpe Park, Sik and Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land, and Icon at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach Resort. 

The best family orientated coasters are Storm Chaser, Cat-o-Pillar, and Cobra at Paultons Park, Th13teen, and The Walking Dead at Thorpe Park, Mandrill Mayhem at Chessington, Roller Coaster at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, Nickelodeon Streak at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach Resort, and The Dragon at Legoland Windsor

Luke Excell added: My favourite UK coaster is Icon at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach Resort. This is a multi launch coaster featuring two hair raising launches. It’s also one of the UK’s longest roller coasters and features many interactions with other rides and rollercoasters at the park.

Michael Dean added: My all time favourite ride in the UK has to be the new and improved Nemesis Reborn. Alton Towers have done an incredible job with the theming, storytelling, audio, and the ride itself.


Sun readers can enjoy great days out to the UK’s best attractions at the guaranteed lowest price, thanks to Sun Superdays.

Throughout the year Sun Superdays gives you the chance to get two tickets to attractions such as, Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures, Warwick Castle, SEA LIFE aquariums and more!

With Sun Superdays we guarantee that you will not find tickets cheaper anywhere else. And with thousands of weekend and holiday tickets available, no day is off limits! 

Starting next Saturday, save up to £58 on two tickets to Thorpe Park. Simply pick up The Sun and collect the Sun Savers codes printed daily to book. Sign up to Sun Savers at sunsavers.co.uk or download the free Sun Savers app so that you are ready to start collecting from next Saturday.

Best theme park for thrill seekers

Another unanimous verdict from our panel, with Thorpe Park a clear winner. The Surrey theme park even bills itself as ‘The UK’s Most Thrilling Theme Park’, with eight rollercoasters, including the world’s first horror movie-themed coaster – Saw. 

David Wroe said: Undoubtedly this is Thorpe Park. All of their major rides are for thrill seekers and they offer very little outside of this market. 

Luke Excell added: Thorpe park features some of the UK’s best roller coasters including the new for 2024 hypercoaster, Hyperia. It also has a great line up of supporting rides including Detonator, Rush and Samurai, to name a few.

Michael Dean said: Thorpe Park has some of the best rides in the country, and soon they’ll be opening the UK’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster; Hyperia – that will reach heights of 236ft and a max speed of just over 80mph.

There are also many other thrilling rides there, such as Stealth or The Swarm. So it’s the perfect theme park for those looking for intense thrills.

Best theme park for families 

Paultons Park was the clear winner here. The Hampshire theme park is known best as the home of Peppa Pig World. But it actually has more than 70 rides and attractions, nearly all aimed at younger children. 

David Wroe said: Paultons Park is very well looked after, it is themed very well and has rides that cover a wide spectrum – from a child’s first ride to things to interest teenagers, like the Storm Chaser steel spinning roller coaster and the Cobra coaster.

Luke Excell added: Paultons Park has some of the best theming in the UK, with rides to thrill all the family.

My family especially love their themed land Tornado Springs, a 1950s-style Midwest desert town, which opened in 2021 and has eight attractions including the Storm Chaser rollercoaster.

Michael Dean said: Paultons Park has to be one of the best parks in the UK for getting your money’s worth, at under £14 a ticket if you pay far enough in advance.

Because there are usually short wait times for all the rides, so you can get lots done in a day. 

Paultons park was highly praised by all of our panel for being best for families


Paultons park was highly praised by all of our panel for being best for families
Gullivers land and Gullivers World also got the thumbs up for their family-friendly offerings


Gullivers land and Gullivers World also got the thumbs up for their family-friendly offeringsCredit: Gulliver’s Land

Tips for saving money while visiting a theme park 

It’s bad news for those who love a fast food treat. Our panel all agreed that the best way to cut costs is to take you own lunch, and eat it while you’re queuing for the rides.

David Wroe said: Do multiple parks that are close together over a weekend to save on hotels and travel. Chessington, Thorpe Park and Legoland are all within 30 minutes of each other, and Paultons Park is just over an hour away from these too.

Michael Dean added: Bring lunch with you – but be aware that some parks like Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach Resort don’t allow you to bring in your own food. 


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Best theme park to visit if you’re on a budget 

Our panel was split on this one, with many of the smaller seaside theme parks getting high praise for their affordability. 

David Wroe said: If you want as much park as possible for as little money, Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach is great.

You can pay £24 for a time slotted entry into the park, which keeps numbers down so you can ride more.

Alternatively, you can go to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, Fantasy Island in Skegness, Funland Hayling Island near Portsmouth, Clarence Pier in Portsmouth, Joyland in Great Yarmouth or Bottons Pleasure Beach in Skegness, and only pay for the rides you want to go on.

Their unlimited ride wristbands are also great value for money.

Luke Excell said: I would give this to Adventure Island in Southend-on-Sea. This park is only small and is commonly overlooked but offers a great range of supporting rides with five roller coasters.

Tickets for this park start from £20 for adults and the park has great operating hours which can go long into the night.

Everyone on our panel is extremely excited about Thorpe Park's new Hyperia rollercoaster, opening later this month


Everyone on our panel is extremely excited about Thorpe Park’s new Hyperia rollercoaster, opening later this monthCredit: Thorpe Park

New parks and rides you’re looking forward to

All eyes are on Thorpe Park for this panel, and its new roller coaster Hyperia launching later this month.

David Wroe said: Hyperia is probably the next big thing I’m looking forward to. I’m hopeful for the new Universal Studios park looking to be built at Bedford too.

Paultons Park is looking to build an indoor dark ride and are currently working on a flume attraction that I hope will be up there in quality with the rest of the park!

Luke Excell added: I am most looking forward to getting on Hyperia, at Thorpe Park, it’s going to be the UK’s tallest at 236ft and will be the second hypercoaster (rollercoaster over 200ft tall) in the UK. 

Michael Dean said: I am looking forward to experiencing Legoland’s new roller coaster Minifigure Speedway soon, and of course Hyperia at Thorpe Park.

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