Lightwater Valley, Ripon, North Yorkshire

Lightwater Valley - a review - May 2019

With half-term on the horizon, Lightwater Valley invited us up to have a day out and see what has changed since our last visit (back in 2013). I have to say that while we loved our day out there six years ago, we could see room for improvement. The improvements have been made, and more, and we had another fantastic day out. Thank you, Lightwater Valley!

Review of Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire

Lightwater Valley is near Ripon in North Yorkshire, not far from York and Harrogate and easy to find off the A1(M). We arrived there not longer after the opening time of 10am and we already knew we’d picked a good day.

The weather was menacing. It looked like it was going to rain any minute for the entire day, but it never did. It was an ideal theme park kinda day – fair weather, no chance of getting sunburnt, and low attendance. Queues were non-existent; we got on every ride we wanted to go on, frequently more than once, and still managed to find the time to squeeze in food, and some downtime.

The park improvements, that I could see, included more toilets (that was my biggest bugbear last time around), a better system in the main foodhall Hungry Harbour, and a move around of some of the rides to make it less higgldy-piggledy. I like the improvements very much.

We did consider going to one of the many live shows – they include Jester & Jasmine’s Sing-a-long, and an Outer Space Magic Lights Show – but the children decided they were big girls now and wanted to go on as many of the big rides as possible. Rides was definitely the theme of the day for us, and now the twins are eight-years-old, we didn’t have to go on with them. Winners!

Our favourite rides were…….

Eagle’s Claw – the 14 year old loved this and went on two or three times. You go on a huge yellow claw shaped swing – have a look for it on our video

The Trauma Tower – sounds worse than it is. The younger three children loved going up and down on this one. I think this was the one we used the most.

The ladybird coaster – actually this one is quite fast and not really for very little children. Perfect for the 8 year-olds.

The Ultimate at Lightwater Valley

The Ultimate – the 14 year old took one of the 8 year-olds on this one so she didn’t have to go on her own, and the 8 year-old hated it and cried most of the way around. That’s because it’s a very, very good coaster and aimed firmly at the biggies. No upside down but plenty of speed and one of the biggest coaster drops in the UK I think. It’s certainly billed as the longest roller coaster in Europe and I can believe it; it took ages for the girls to return back from setting off.

The Twister – a roller coaster with a waltzer-style carriage. You now the type. The teen loved this one and the 8 year old companion liked it too.

The Black Pearl – an upside down pirate ship which the teen most definitely had to do on her own, thank you very much. Watch our video for this one!

The Raptor ride at Lightwater Valley

The Raptor – Me and one of the 8 year-olds hated this, but the teen and the braver 8 year-old loved it. It’s a very fast mini coaster which is completely (and I mean completely) in the dark save the odd flash of light which lights up a dinosaur that screams at you. Nope, I did not enjoy this one, and the 8 year old was traumatised even more by the ‘fun’ of getting out the attraction again. Not for the faint-hearted or anyone with a condition of any sort, including weakened pelvic floors.

The Carousel at Lightwater Valley

The carousel – everyone loves a horse carousel, right?

The Skyrider – swing chairs on steroids.

The Apollo ride at Lightwater Valley

Apollo – another swing chair ride but way higher.

Check out our video to see some of the rides we tested on the day…..

Other attractions we enjoyed were the perimeter train ride, which now only has two stops but is very pleasant, and the petting farm, which isn’t that big but houses the cutest baby alpaca in the entire world.

A baby alpaca at Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire

We also paid a visit to the Angry Birds playground, which was a hit. Again! We recreated this photo which I still remember taking six years ago.

The angry Birds playground at Lightwater Valley

There were a lot of rides which we didn’t go on at all, mainly those which we are now too big for. There really is something for all ages.

Kiddie rides at Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire

The girls also didn’t want to go on the water rapids ride with me either, so I gave that one a miss.

Wild River Rapids at Lightwater Valley

We older ones did try out the farmyard ride in the name of rigourous journalism, and it was very good.

The Hungry Harbour is one of the main eateries at Lightwater Valley and I was happy to see improvements had been made here. The system had changed so it was less frantic and fraught, and the menu has been simplified. Typical theme park offering and prices. The chips were especially good.

Food at Hungry Harbour, Lightwater Valley

Overall, Lightwater Valley is a good theme park – not too expensive, plenty to do, and not too crowded. It’s in a pleasant spot and they’ve tried to keep it nice throughout – the lake is very good and there are plenty of wildlife that choose to make Lightwater Valley their home. There’s a lot of greenery and places to sit with a picnic.

Ducks at Lightwater Valley

For half-term (May/June 2019) Bubble Max will be holding shows three times a day. Please check out their half-term guide for more information:

Disclosure – we were guests of Lightwater Valley. All opinion is our own


Joanne and the girly gang review family days out around the UK and beyond, with a little help from their friends.

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