Pleasurewood Hills, Suffolk – Review
By Dominic Picksley
The screams of the children, including my daughter Amelia, could clearly be heard emanating from Wipe Out, as the rollercoaster train soared through an inversion above my head, before coming to rest in the station.
Gasps of relief also came from some of the riders following an exhilarating 60-second journey on the boomerang coaster that is the top attraction at Pleasurewood Hills, Suffolk’s biggest theme park which has been celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Located between Corton and Gunton, a stone’s throw from the seaside town of Lowestoft, just below the Norfolk border, Pleasurewood Hills may not be able to hold much of a candle to the UK’s biggest theme parks, but it still packs something of a punch thanks to the aforementioned Wipe Out, along with a number of other thrill-seeking rides.
And as a juxtaposition to the gentle, winding watery ways of the nearby Norfolk Broads – literally a 15-minute car drive away – it offers a dramatic alternative for those looking to increase one’s blood pressure a notch or two.
We made our first-ever visit there, halfway through a week on the Broads, with two children desperate to tick off even more rollercoasters from their ever-growing collection.
Before our visit, I had read some rather unflattering reviews, from people unhappy with some of the rides not operating properly, to others complaining how run down the place was, so it was with some trepidation that we marched through the entrance one overcast Tuesday morning.
But any fears about the quality on offer would be completely dismissed as a great day was had by all – everything worked like clockwork, the staff were friendly, the venue was clean and although some areas clearly needed a lick of paint, it rather added to the charm of the place, with some areas reminding me of places I had visited in my childhood many years ago, bringing back wonderful memories.
First port of call was not Wipe Out, but Cannonball Express, one of the oldest rides in the park and which offered a great introduction to what Pleasurewood Hills is all about. Not death-defying like other notable coasters around the country, but still able to get the blood pumping around its figure of eight (of sorts) course.
It was also unique, in my eyes, as a coaster that had different embarking and disembarking stations, something I have never really seen before.
It wasn’t long, though, before the pull of Wipe Out proved too much for my two, but I opted to remain on terra firma, trying to convince them that I had to be on the ground to take some much-needed photos of them.
As the train was hauled up the incline, it felt like I had dodged a bullet as it looked decidedly high up there – and as soon as it came to a standstill, ‘whoosh’, off to went hurtling down the track, doing a couple of loops over my head, before going up the opposite incline, only to retrace the route backwards.
When it comes to theme parks, queues are seen as something of a necessary evil, although standing in line for a couple of hours to experience (endure?) a 30-second ‘thrill ride’ is not particularly my cup of tea.
Thankfully, though, long queues were in short supply as despite it being half-term, the park was not what you would call heaving, although the gloomy skies above may have had something to do with that.
“You’re sure to have a great day out”
That meant 10-15 waits maximum, giving us all plenty of opportunities for multiple rides, including on the jerky Marble Madness, Water Fun Factory (where you’ll get a little wet), the Jolly Roger drop tower and Egg-Spress, something of a throwback coaster ride from years ago.
There’s also a lovely ski lift ride that takes you from one side of the park to the other, at a very sedate pace it has to be said, while there’s plenty of fun rides for the younger elements of the family, too, including the Pleasurewood Hills Express, Funky Flyers and Waveswinger, while if it’s raining, Rootin Tootin Target Trail – which had the longest queue of the day – is also a great little ride, where you try and shoot as many targets as you can while riding along in a small car.
I am also pleased to report that reviews posted after our day at the park were a great improvement to those beforehand, but just ignore the bad ones anyway as you’re sure to have a great day out.