Gullivers World (Warrington) – Full Park Review
Gullivers is a chain of theme parks within the UK consisting of three main parks; Matlock Bath, Milton Keynes & Warrington. The theme parks are aimed at the younger market; 12 years and under, and unlike most theme parks, Gullivers will only admit adults into the park when accompanied by children within this age range.
With the parks being specifically aimed at children, this works well, as it ensures a family orientated atmosphere, without the risk of rowdy teenagers spoiling the fun for the younger children and their families. The parks have a selection of rides & attractions aimed at all visitor types; from sandboxes and merry-go rounds for the smallest of visitors through to rollercoasters such as Antelope for the older kids, and maybe even for the mums and dads!
We were interested in how Gullivers was formed and whether the park’s name was associated with the 1939 Gulliver’s Travels Movie, however when talking with Brandon, the park manager, he informed us that their was no official affiliation, and that the park was simply based upon the story of Gulliver from 1726!
We continued to talk with Brandon about the future release of the blockbuster film Gullivers Travels, which is due to be released in 2011 starring Jack Black, as this would be an ideal opportunity for the park/company to promote their attractions both nationally & globally. We were advised that the park were hoping to be able to do this successfully, however no further details were given. It’d be great if there could be some kind of promotional event that gave park tickets away when people bought the movie on DVD for instance – it seems a perfect opportunity for the park to capitalise on a national marketing event, since the film will almost certainly be a huge success.
Gullivers is a rather unique set of attractions in the way that it targets the under 12s specifically. We asked what the annual gate figures were, but unfortunately the company’s PR company were not able to release this combined information. They did however inform us that Warrington is the most successful park (in terms of profitability) and, when on park at Warrington, Brandon informed us that there were approximately 2000 people present, and on busy days during half term, this can be as many as 5k-6k daily.
Website & Pricing
With three main attractions, Gullivers has one main website, with links to each of its parks from one location. The main landing page makes it easy for site visitors to choose between either Matlock Bath, Milton Keynes or Warrington, in addition to highlighting the park’s Splash Zone attractions. The website design is clearly aimed at the target audience; with its use of vivid colours, and the parks own Gully/Gilly Mouse characters, it makes the site a very nice place to be for younger visitors on the site.
This certainly works well, as when UK Park News visited, we checked out the site beforehand with our young visitor Lucy, who is 3. We were able to easily show Lucy what was at the park, and the colour scheme/design ensured that her attention remained on the website. Any site though, also has to be user-friendly for adults, since it’s the adults that will browse, decide and order tickets from here. The navigation on Gullivers site is very easy – with everything being accessible from the menus across the top. Also, irrespective of which park you’re at, the navigation remains the same, making it easy to compare one park to the next.
Our only criticisms with the site are that, although from a child’s point of view the design/colour may look fantastic, we think the design could beĀ more refined, bringing it in line with the quality of websites that competitors have. Specifically, there are a couple of the areas of the website that just don’t display correctly due to being written wrong – and as with any large company, we’d expect these simple errors to have been spotted long ago when the site was designed. These areas include the opening times/prices section that doesn’t seem to “fit” into a browser window; when hovering over a date in the booking calendar, information appears, but this overlays on existing text on the page. Additionally there are areas on the site that prompt to click for more information, but nothing happens when doing this. An example of this is when clicking the link to view Spalsh Zone tickets – there is no link.
Amongst the menus across the top of the page, there is a special events area which lists all events at the park, and although all the information here is correct, it does include past events such as Easter Egg Hunt 2010, which took place in April – this is fine, however it gives the impression that the site isn’t updated very often with new information.
Like with most parks nowadays, Gullivers makes good use of its very own Facebook page. When UK Park News first started looking at the site, it did take us a while to find the Official Facebook page, this is because we expected the page to be entitled “Gullivers Fun” but in fact the official Facebook page is known as “Gully Mouse”. This page is a very active place with some 1100 likes; not bad considering the park is aimed at under 12’s and Facebook’s minimum sign-up age is 13 – so it looks like it is just the mums & dads that will have this as a like on their account.
It’s nice to see that Gully posts regular status updates on the page. We have seen some parks that have a page setup but never post to it, or post rarely. Making regular posts and engaging with customers makes it a much more interesting environment where people can find the latest news and share photos/information.
The entry price for Gullivers Warrington is Ā£13.50 per adult & Ā£13.50 per child. Children under 0.90m are admitted free of charge, however adults will still need to pay full price. OAP tickets are available for Ā£12.50. Online booking is available, though Gullivers does not currently offer any savings for doing so, but it does allow you to skip the ticketing sales booths in the morning. We noticed that the online ticketing system at the moment only allows us to book up until the end of October 2010, though when on park Brandon, the park manager advised that Gullivers was open for selected dates throughout the year. The website does have a Christmas special events section which advises to book before October 31st to receive 10% discount, however this has to be booked via a separate section, which can be a little confusing.
The pricing for the park is more than reasonable; at Ā£13.50 its excellent value considering the number of attractions the park has on offer. Remembering that the park is aimed at the under 12’s, we know that the attraction line-up is specific to the target audience. Gullivers Warrington certainly offers a multitude of attractions that kids within this age range absolutely love; we thought that for a family visiting the park there may conceivably be too much to do in one day. This is much better than visiting a park and running out of things to do; at Gullivers Warrington there seems to be new things around every corner, making the whole day seem excellent value for money.
At the time of checking the Gullivers website (October 2010), we took a look at the Annual Pass or “Passport” ticket options. As far as we could tell, there is an offer on for these types of tickets – we looked a the “Gold Passport” which allowed access to all parks on any valid day for 12 months. This offer price is an amazing Ā£34.99 (regular price Ā£69.99) – a fantastic option if you’re wanting to visit freely throughout the year, or live locally.
Rides & Attractions
Gullivers World falls into the category of a children’s theme park; therefore, it is rather obvious that nearly all of the rides on site are aimed at Children under 12. Anyone wishing to visit for thrills will definitely be disappointed. However, that is not to say that the whole family can’t enjoy the day, as the mix of rides available at the park are suitable for those both young and old! Gullivers’ largest ride; and one that is aimed at those over the age of 12, is The Antelope. This is a nice little wooden rollercoaster, with a simple, yet thrilling layout, consisting of two large drops, an airtime hill, and a double drop. This is also an excellent ride for the kids who are a bit more adventurous, yet arenāt tall/courageous enough to brave the large steel coasters located throughout the country.
The park is also home to two more rollercoasters; the Wild Mine Ride, and the Runaway Train. The Wild Mine Ride is another rollercoaster that is aimed towards the older children as opposed to the very young. It is a 50 ft tall āWild Mouseā with many sharp turns and drops. This is quite an entertaining ride, though be prepared to brace yourself, as the corners can be quite deadly on those ribs.
Gullivers last coaster is the Runaway Train. This is a rollercoaster aimed at very young children, and takes a slow, corner filled journey, to and from the station. The ride is a mere few feet tall, and is an excellent addition, as it provides the opportunity for many children to experience their first coaster.
The park is split into 9 sections or ālandsā; 8 Themed areas and an Entrance Plaza. Each area takes on a separate theme, from the fairytale look of Aliceās Wonderland, to the Jurassic Park-esque area, The Lost World. Walking into each area of the park, for kids especially, is as if you are walking into different worlds, and though the theming on park is not up to Disney standards, each area is certainly executed well.
Rollercoasterās aside, the park has a multitude of other rides, in fact probably too many to do in one day. This is good, as many other parks simply havenāt got enough for a full days worth of enjoyment. The park is home to many classic rides that you will find at most parks; rides such as the Pirate Ship and the Horses Carousel, which will bring back fond memories for parents; as well as some rather unique rides – Flight of the Pteranodon is one of them.
It is a slow, rotating āchairswingā style ride; however, rather than sitting upright, riders are made to sit in a prone position, laying face down on their stomach. This adds a certain amount of thrill to what would otherwise be a rather dull ride. Another unique addition to the park is the āSplash Zoneā. This is a large, indoor, water based play area, similar to the Splash Landings waterpark at the Alton Towers Resort. In the centre of the large hall is a huge water obstacle course, with many interactive water features throughout. There are also two waterslide, one of which takes riders on an adventure outside of the building! Alongside the Splash Zone is an indoor cafe; this is ideal as it allows parents to relax with a coffee, while the children are having fun and are in-sight.
Food & Beverage/Retail Sales
Food at Gullivers was pretty good; in fact, better than food at some of the larger parks. There are plenty of places around the park to eat and drink; from Jās Barn, where they serve Pizzas and Ice Creams; to Diamond Lils Coffee Bar where they serve a great selection of jacket Potatoes and sandwiches. On this occasion, we decided to eat at the Big Top Grill, located in Circus World, and serving a selection of chicken and burgers. Both Mat & I had a cheeseburger meal, and Lucy (Our 3 year old reviewer) had a childrenās burger meal. These were priced at Ā£4.65 and Ā£3.25 respectively, which is rather good value, given the amount of food per portion and how good it tasted, albeit the chips were slightly cold. Far too often, when smaller parks attempt at providing food āin houseā, rather than outsourcing it, the food can be either overpriced or taste rather bland and rubbery, often even both. This was definitely not the case at Gullivers however. The children’s burger meal consists of a childās burger, chips, a drink and a toy, which again was not bad value, especially as the toy kept our young reviewer entertained in between rides.
Onto retail, and we were quite surprised at how much Gullivers branded merchandise was on sale ā quite a stark contrast to most child/family parks.
It was also nice to see that almost all of it was reasonably priced. On sale was everything from water bottles to pencils, and even Gully and Gilly Mouse bears, which were a mere Ā£6.99. The only item we thought to be overpriced was a Gullivers mug. This was Ā£6.50, which we thought was quite frankly, just too much to pay, especially for a simple printed mug. Furthermore, the price of an equivalent mug at Drayton Manor Park is only Ā£2.50.
We feel that anything below Ā£5 is a reasonable price, however, prices above that should be reserved for textured, ā3Dā mugs. Also on sale was an extensive range of generic, non-branded merchandise. We didnāt take the opportunity to really look at these items; however we can assume that they shall be reasonably priced, in accordance with other items around the park.
It was nice to see that Gullivers have taken the opportunity to provide On-Ride photos on many of their rides. This is something that is more often than not, lacking from smaller parks. We believe that the addition of these is key, especially in children’s parks, as many kids will experience their first ride, so parents may want a keep-sake. All On-Ride photos were priced at Ā£3.50, which is incredibly cheap compared to the Ā£6-7 that is usually charged at other Theme Parks.
Guest Experience/Staff Interaction
Overall, our experience with the members of staff around park was a positive one. Almost every member of staff we talked to seemed to be happy to speak to us. Another thing that stood out was that staff didnāt keep pestering us with clearly scripted questions, such as āHow is your dayā āAre you having a good day, sirā. This happens far too often in the larger, corporate parks, where you can instantly tell that the member of staff doesnāt actually have any interest in how your day has been. Instead, each member of staff engaged in conversation with us in a more personal, genuine way, which definitely pays off in terms of making the overall day and experience much better.
We spent a few hours of our day with the park manager, Brandon, who was on hand to take us around the park and answer any questions we had. He was a decent, down to earth guy, who seemed happy to talk about anything. Weād like to also mention the guest services team. These were the first people we spoke to on our visit, and they were a brilliant bunch. We walked in whilst they were putting up Halloween decorations, and all of them where more than happy to chat with us and have a laugh. They even started talking to Lucy, which makes a change for staff to acknowledge the young kids rather than just the parents.
Gullivers Warrington has perhaps the best family orientated atmosphere that we’ve experienced in a UK Park. We’ve been to a number of parks all over the country, including Gullivers Matlock Bath, but Warrington seems very different to the other parks we’ve been to. Perhaps its a combination of the park’s setting, coupled with a family only entry policy.
Upon entering the park, the turnstiles open to an almost breath-taking lake view area – a truly beautiful setting. We really were taken aback by this, since we just were not expecting it. The whole park is based around the outskirts of this lake, but with added areas seemingly popping up from nowhere, or hidden away in a corner.
The park is well laid out, with toilets easily accessible in all areas; this is really important as when you’re out with the kids, any parent will know you always need to seek out the nearest toilet and make a b-line for it in an emergency! We also noticed that Gullivers had installed Sneeze Stations around the park – helping people to stay germ free, which can be particularly important when around very young children and babies.
While at the park, we were also lucky enough to take a sneak peek at the 2010 Santa Grotto. Santa was away on a gift conference at the time, meaning we were able to take a look while he was out. We won’t give anything away here other than we were amazed at the effort that the park had put into assisting Santa to create the perfect Christmas Grotto! UK Park News will be covering a dedicated Christmas feature in December; more details nearer the time.
UK Park News were extremely impressed with our visit to Gullivers Warrington. For its category and target market, we think this park would be very difficult to beat in terms of value for money, and for the sheer number of appropriate things to do in the park.
We did think the park needed a little TLC here and there, with the odd section looking a little “tired” but perhaps with the amount of time we spend in parks, it was more noticeable to us, than it would be to the average guest.
Gullivers Warrington is surely an excellent day out for any family with younger children, with a good mix of attractions for toddlers right through to those aged 11/12. It’s a very pleasant park, with plenty to do, including a few rides for mums and dads such as Antelope & Pirate Ship; and for those braver/older kids.
With the end of day Gully Show, and characters on park such as Dora & Diego and Peppa Pig, the place becomes magical from the eyes of a youngĀ child, and our 3 year old park reviewer Lucy, certainly enjoyed meeting these characters and dancing during the end of day show that took place in the dedicated stage area, near the park exit.
The park currently has a number of intellectual property deals with Dinsey (Mickey’s Club House), Nickelodeon (Dora & Diego) and Entertainment One (Peppa Pig). Our concern here for 2011 is that Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool & Peppa Pig World at Paultons park are launched, and we hope this doesn’t mean the end of these characters for Gullivers due to exclusive rights contracts.
UK Park News highly recommends Gullivers Warrington as a quality day out for families with young children. We’d also like to mention that Gullivers states that over 50% of the rides/attractions are under cover, making it a great place to visit, even if the British weather isn’t on our side!