Social Distancing at Paultons Park Peppa Pig World Theme Park
Summer is finally here and if like us you're thinking about things to do with the kids with social distancing restrictions in place I thought I would share our experience at Paultons Park & Peppa Pig World. You might be thinking about going to a theme park but unsure if it'll be the same or maybe you have a trip planned and want some tips. After the likes of the Telegraph claiming the fun is over due to Covid-19, I hope this is useful and if you have any questions to help you plan a day trip out feel free to get in touch.
Firstly, we went on Thursday 16th July 2020, I think it was only their second week of reopening after being forced to close for so long due to Covid-19. You have to pre-book tickets in advance so that they can control the numbers of people attending, Paultons Park insist they are managing reduced capacity but I don't believe they've quoted how many they are allowing into the park everyday. Although I have seen a number of days have been sold out since they've reopened so book in advance if you can.
Before you go I'd recommend downloading the app and once you have ordered your tickets register them on the app. This sounds like it'd be a faff but honestly took me 30seconds, in fact it took me 1 minute as the app crashed the day before we were going so I had to do it all again. By registered the tickets onto the app you can quickly show them the barcode on arrival and they will scan it and let you straight in. We arrived at 9.30, there was no queueing to get into the car park and everyone was being directed where to park, leaving one parking space between each car so you could socially distance whilst unloading the clan from the car. All the staff wore PPE on arrival and although I was expecting a temperature check we didn't get this although there are signs everywhere asking you to leave if you have any Covid-19 symptoms. Hand sanitiser stations line up as you arrive so everyone can appropriately wash their hands.
Paultons Park advertises that it opens at 10am but like most theme parks I've realised the entrances usually open at least 30mins before the advertised time. We arrived at 9.30 and walked straight into the park, we weren't the only ones either as quite a few people began to wait around to be let into the rides. I'd highly recommend this as it means once the clock strikes 10 and the rides open you'd stood right next to them ready to start the fun. In that first hour we got so many rides in Peppa Pig World done without queueing.
The busiest rides and those with small areas for queuing have Virtual Queues. This is managed via the Paultons Park app so to get on these rides you MUST download the app and join a virtual queue. I was surprised by the amount of people asking staff about this at the ride entrance and not knowing about it...it's all over their website and they emailed me twice before arriving to let me know how it works. I'd suggest joining a virtual queue as soon as you arrive (or when they open at 10) and then going on a popular ride which doesn't have one by the time you come off that first ride your virtual queue will be calling you to ride. And then you can join another virtual queue the moment you use your barcode for the previous one. It sounds like a lot of faff but for us it was simple and a great way to manage as many rides as possible without running around, bumping into people and queueing up in small, tight queue lines.
One thing I would say is there were times we found ourselves waiting around looking at our phones as the virtual queue was counting down and telling us we would be ready to ride in the next few minutes. Without wanting to walk to another area of the park and miss our boarding time we waited around. I think they could do with some street entertainment or mini outdoor entertainment to keep people entertained whilst they're waiting in virtual queues. Paultons Park... you know where I am!!
We visited the toilets on a number of occasions throughout the day and each time they were absolutely spotless. Even at the end of the day as we were leaving (and I have to say that we were the very last people to leave).
We decided to take a picnic with us for lunch. That way we didn't need to worry about social distancing in a restaurant or standing in a long queue to order etc. Plus the grounds at Paultons Park are so lovely and there's so much green space it's easy to find a spot for a family picnic and be so far from anyone else the 2 year old could run around with his scotch egg half hanging out his mouth and still not worry about being too near to anyone. Although I noticed Paultons Park are offering food ordering on the app so you can book a time slot to collect your food and avoid queueing up etc. I just prefer a good British picnic with soggy sandwiches and squashed strawberries. Mainly because at any time of the day you can sneakily reach into your bag and steal a scotch egg when no one is looking.
The biggest tip I can give you and this applies to most theme parks not just Paultons Park & Peppa Pig World, it's also relevant at any time not just during social distancing restrictions, is get their before their advertised opening time and stay til the very end. The first and last hour is always the best to get on so many rides as the queues are usually much lower at these times. We got on all the Peppa Pig rides during this time with minimal queueing, I think the most we waited for any of these rides (excluding virtual queues) was 15mins.
Overall we had a brilliant family day out at Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World. It was just nice to get out and enjoy a usual family day that we like to do often. I was concerned that with all the fun of a theme park many people would forget to social distance but there's reminders around the park, hand sanitising stations everywhere and everyone really seemed to do their bit. But at the same time we manage to enjoy ourselves and not panic or worry at all. It was much less stressful than some trips to the local supermarket I've had and I think I felt much safer too.
I've not been asked or paid to write this blog. I just had a great time and with so many friends asking us how it was I thought it would be helpful to share for other parents who may have the same uncertainty about a social distancing family day out. I can't vouch it'll be the same for everyone or that every tourist attraction will be the same. We are fans of Paultons Park, we've been many times before and as the kids grow up we have already made some great family memories there. This latest day out will be added to those memorable days as one of the best - the first family day out in Summer 2020. I hope there will be many more and we can continue to enjoy getting out the house and having some fun.
Post any questions you may have if you're planning a day out and I'll try and answer them as best I can. Enjoy the summer peeps!