YOU may not have heard of it, but the fifth best theme park in the world is in North Devon.
According to TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice Theme Park And Water Park Awards, the Milky Way Adventure Park in Clovelly is leagues ahead of Disneyland Paris and Alton Towers.
The awards are based on TripAdvisor reviews over the past year, and the Milky Way Adventure Park was named as the UK's top global No.1 in the UK, No.5 in the world and No.4 in Europe.
The family-owned park, which started life as a dairy farm, is located a few miles from the border with Cornwall, near an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Guests can ride the Cosmic Typhoon coaster, pilot a Cyber Scooter and shoot lasers on Ziggy's Blast Quest, take a ride on the Droid Destroyer Dodgems,leap around on the Jumping Jupiters and take on the huge death slide.
There are plenty of options for younger kids too, including the Cosmic Caterpillar, Milky Way train and a soft play centre forbabies to pre-schoolers.
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There are also live shows, as well as sports and crafts sessions.
The park has an overall rating on TripAdvisor of 4.5 from more than 2,500 reviews, which praise the park for its “super smiley staff” and for being “honestly worth the money you pay,” due to its “variety of entertainment for the whole family.”
Tara Stanbury the park’s manager told Sun Online Travel that the family-focused attitude is one of the main reasons that guests keep coming back.
She said: “We have guests who return regularly with their children and it’s great to see them growing older and getting excited about being able to finally ride the bigger coasters – for some of them it’s the highlight of their year.
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“We have a place where parents can play with their children and not just sit and watch them.
“We've designed our play areas to fit adults whop want to accompany their younger kids, because often soft play areas can be a horrendous experience for grown ups – they aren't designed by people who spend any time in them.”
While the Cosmic Typhoon is the park’s biggest coaster, the most popular attraction is the dodgems, which are housed in a darkened room, designed to create the atmosphere of a night at the fair.
The dodgems are also available for wedding parties, with a 17th century barn on site serving as a location for marriage ceremonies.
Tara said: “People seem to really love the dodgems. They’re set up inside in a blacked-out room,but we do make sure that younger children can enjoy them too.
“If there’s a young child at the front of the queue, we will put on a special session for all the younger kids in the queue, who can have a ride with no bumping.”
Another reason for the park’s success is its value for money, with plenty of TripAdvisor reviews mentioning its competitive prices. An adult pass for a day currently costs as little as £14.95, while younger children can get in for £7.95.
Plus it boasts shorter queueing times than bigger theme parks, which is also regularly mentioned in positive TripAdvisor reviews.
Tara said: “You could spend that much on a trip to the cinema or bowling for an hour, but people come here for the whole day. And people spend a lot less time queueing here.”
While the park’s inclusion in the TripAdvisor list is a source of pride, the owners are keen to highlight that it is very much a family park and not a place that will get the pulses racing for any would-be thrill seekers.
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She said: “We can’t control who TripAdvisor compares us to and we’re incredibly proud for our staff because they do really care and that’s one of the reasons we are different.
“But sometimes people come to us expecting us to be like Alton Towers and we’re something else.”
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