Camelot

First published in What's On by

A fairytale land of fun for youngsters with a few knightmarish thrills.

That's what you can expect after you walk through the castle walls into this Lancashire theme park.

There's lots to keep younger children occupied all day -- but only "joust" enough for their older siblings.

My kids have enjoyed trips for several years on their way through primary school.

Now they're both at secondary school -- too old for many of the attractions but not quite daring enough for the clutch of white knuckle rides.

On our family trip recently they ran out of things to do by late lunchtime.

On the other hand, if this 11 and 13-year-old had been there with their mates I'll bet -- like the other groups of pre-teens we saw -- they have thoroughly enjoyed themselves all day.

They made occasional forays to the trio of white-knuckle rides on top of the hill.

On a previous trip we broke away from the rides to watch the funny and exciting real-life jousting tournament.

There is a mock castle at the entrance to set the scene, and rides have names plucked from the Middle Ages.

Some of the rides look like something from a 1960s holiday camp, but these older attractions -- like the log flume and Dragon Flyer -- provide some of the most fun.

The Dragon Flyer is a cross between a rollercoaster and a model train and runs round the entire site.

It encircles traditional attractions like the water slides, ferris wheel, swinging galleon and sideshows, as well as the jousting arena.

On one hill is a large hangar with cafe, dodgems and soft-play castle -- all very welcome if the rain comes down.

On the other hill is the Merlin's Playland, a mini theme park for the youngest visitors -- no adults allowed!

They can nip next door with the older kids -- in fact anyone aged around eight-plus -- for the small but diverse selection of thrill rides.

The Knightmare is an excellent rollercoaster offering more than half a mile of twists, turns and drops. The publicity blurb claims the ride pulls 5Gs on some corners -- and I found it pulled them smoothly and excitingly.

Alongside is the Whirlwind -- a breathtaking rollercoaster where the cars repeatedly spin around -- and the stomach-churning Excalibur 2.

There's also the Dragon Coaster for younger children, a decent ghost train, a beautiful carousel, the Falcons Flight aerial ride and the Teacups.

There's a working farm with ponies, piglets, sheep, chickens, cows, goats and chipmunks -- and new this year birds of prey.

As well as the twice-a-day tournament, children can watch a magic show and learn to be wizards.

Camelot has a charm lacking in some other parks, and is an excellent day out for families with pre-schoolers or children of primary school age.

Once they reach the teenage years youngsters will find very little to fill their day.

In short: a fun mix of new and old attractions.

Duration: the whole day, get your money's worth!

Age suitability: terrific for under-tens but serious thrill-seekers could feel short-changed.

Access: one steep slope and ramps elsewhere; restrictions on some rides on health and safety grounds.

Extras: shops, cafe, outdoor picnic area, extra charge for go-karts, mini-golf and Bertie Bassett's Driving School.

Open: 10am until about 5pm.

Prices: £24 adults and children over 1 metre tall, £15 senior citizens and and disabled people; £ 70 family, free for children under one metre.

Getting there: near Chorley, Lancashire - short drive from the M6 (junction 27 northbound, junction 28 southbound), follow brown tourism signs to Camelot and Park Hall.

Parking: free Website: www.camelotthemepark.co.uk.

Phone: 01257 452100

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