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PTR - Camelot 27th August 2012

Robbie

Member
A British Bank Holiday weekend, and where better to go than Camelot? Lancashire's 2nd (or 3rd) most popular theme park!

For a couple of years now, my Pub Quiz team have been going there with our winnings. I'm the only real coaster enthusiast in the group - in fact, my girlfriend doesn't like much so the "sedate" nature of Camelot is reasonably suitable. My original thinking was for this park to ease her into the amusement park experience and since we first went we've got a Merlin pass and had a great time at bigger parks.

So, now that defensive set-up's out of the way, here's the report...

The day started in the pouring rain, and we arrived at the park 15 minutes after opening time. It was 2-for-1 entry this weekend, but we were still able to park very close to the doors. After stepping through the portcullis into this magical world you are immediately transported to medieval England with Ye Olde Diesel-Powered Go-Karts (extra charge) and some stuffed lions.

Say hello to the effeminate Dragon (an attraction from when the park opened 29 years ago):


Then, because it was raining, we popped into the castle and had a couple of goes on the Dodgems:



The Log Flume and Caterpillar coaster weren't troubled by riders.


We had to head down the hill into the main section of park because they hadn't displayed show times anywhere near the entrance (despite there being no change day-to-day). Having noted when the jousts and shows were scheduled I went on the Pirate Galleon. Can't go wrong with this, and it was a fun (and lengthy) ride surrounded by some kids who were in utter terror.

On from here to the Dragon Flier - a coaster which goes around the main valley and is (very oddly) basically a miniature diesel train. The driver operates it from the front as it goes jerkily round the circuit twice. You can see it here behind "Pendragon's Plunge" - a dinghy water chute that was excessively wet (my friend actually stopped because the dinghy filled with too much water)


The main valley is the best-themed area of the park but there's not much to do - just a lot of funfair games manned by bored teenage girls.

A wander through the empty wooden houses of Bluebell Bottom takes you to the main ride area of the park, but we went beyond that to... King Arthur's Petting Farm!


Nice weather for ducks


New for 2012: Meerkats!


I went on the Junior Dragon Coaster, which took ages to load because the family in front insisted on having all the seats wiped down before they got on - even though it was pissing it down! The ride turned out to be even rougher than the bigger one.

It's behind the Rheas:


Even this Rhea is wondering what I'm doing here


Having had enough of the downpour the group went to get a hot cup of tea and then we realised: there's only one indoor eating & drinking are in the whole park - and all it serves is Fish & Chips, Cake, and Wimpy! It's basically a temporary marquee, with wooden walls. Deciding to have food before the jousting show, my girlfriend had Jacket Potato with two toppings. But the cheeky sods only gave her 2 half-toppings! I had Fish & Chips & Mushy Peas - tasted fine at the time and a good portion, but I've had the squits ever since.

The other three went to the joust so I headed to Camelot's three biggest rides:


First up, "Whirlwind" spinning coaster. Observe the stunning medieval theming:


I really like this one - it spins like crazy and is pretty fast. Then I did Excalibur 2 but it was mostly uncomfortable. At least I didn't fall out.

Roller-coaster Knightmare is named after the queuing and boarding experience, which is just awful. Even being 4th in the queue I waited 10 minutes for a ride as every other train was running empty. The ride uses a lapbar and seatbelt so getting everyone on an off takes ages - especially when the staff are too busy chatting to each other to bother with customers. It's not a bad ride, but nothing special and you get banged around a lot. A new train would help the experience a lot.


On the plus side, I can just about see my house from the lift hill.

Caught the end of the joust, which was horseless because of the weather but still great fun. Almost every park guest was in this arena:


Superb fights and comedy, with an Olympic theme this year.



Another quick go on the Dodgems, then back to the arena for the Birds of Prey show. With lots of up-close action, this is one of the best of it's kind in the UK. Here my girlfriend (on the left) and a random bloke have a hawk fly between their heads.


Back up to the ride-area of the park and another go on Knightmare. By this time the queue was over 30-minutes long and they were still running the empty train!

We wanted to catch the Magic Workshop (we couldn't see the Magic Show because both performances clashed with the Birds of Prey) so back down again. The Workshop was fun, we learnt a couple of tricks, and Scoop the Jester is a decent host. (He's also performing at my theatre on 14th September - see here)

Half-an-hour till closing, so time for a couple of more goes on Whirlwind I thought.


Except it broke down! So I spent the last 10 minutes of my time in the park stuck in torrential rain underneath a track which was causing a mini-waterfall on my head.

Then home - with a half-price voucher because it rained for more than 2 hours. The voucher is valid for next season but I'm not sure we'll be back. The owners just aren't trying and despite the staff enthusiasm (below) there's little to offer any more. I'm also convinced the slow-loading for most rides (and show clashes) are deliberate to try and get a return visit. No need - that just seems greedy, and at £28 per person for entry they're greedy enough.


Thanks for reading.
 
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