Lightwater Valley – All The Fun Of The Fair!

Lightwater Valley - All The Fun Of The Fair!

Lightwater Valley – a family focused amusement park located just outside Ripon in North Yorkshire was once a bustling theme park home to some truly iconic rides and roller coasters.

Nowadays however the park sports a very different feel and seems much more akin to visiting a funfair than an actual amusement park.

We first visited this park back in our childhood and were lucky enough to experience such stand out attractions as The Rat (aka. Raptor Attack), The Wave, Super Loopa and of course, The Ultimate – formerly Europe’s (and once the world’s) longest roller coaster.

Following Brighton Pier Group’s takeover of the park however it’s fair to say things are fast rolling down hill as the company aim towards a much younger audience of 12 and under.

Lightwater Valley in Ripon now caters to a younger demographic of 12 and under but feels much more akin to a funfair than an actual amusement park.

Back in 2023 Lightwater Valley chose to demolish The Ultimate and remove many other major thrill rides (still suited to the top end of their new demographic) in favour of attempting to follow the same format as the Gulliver’s parks.

The removal of the park’s main roller coaster has sparked HUGE amounts of complaints and controversy from so many who love The Ultimate.

This year however Lightwater Valley are attempting to bring back the ‘thrills’ by bringing in a cheap second hand roller coaster formerly featured at Camel Creek Adventure Park in Cornwall.

Rocket Rollercoaster is an Interpark Cyclone and has operated on the theme park circuit for many years prior to it’s arrival the Yorkshire based amusement park.

The ride’s overall appearence seems very on par with how the rest of the park currently looks – tacky, rusty and run down.

Rocket Rollercoaster was originally slated to open this Saturday 6th April, but ‘unforeseen circumstances’ have meant that the ‘new ride’s opening has been delayed until further notice.

“Airbender” as the roller coaster was known whilst at Camel Creek was reportedly notorious for experiencing reliability issues and huge amounts of downtime prior to it’s departure, so the delayed opening isn’t really a surprise.

Rocket Rollercoaster - Lightwater Valley's 'new' roller coaster for 2024 has been delayed until further notice.

Let’s talk about the rest of the park. Lightwater Valley now sports a very particular feel and that feel is one of being at a fairground and not an amusement park.

The park’s heavy concentration of temporary rides coupled with the decayed nature some appear to possess doesn’t give the feel of being at a well established amusement park, more one of being on your local football pitch at a traveling funfair.

A display board located within the park’s ‘arcade’ building (also home to the visitor center, Annie’s tearoom and Lightwater Valley Theatre) features Ebor (the park’s dragon mascot) pointing to his right with the phrase “all the fun of the fair” and in reality this single sign sums up the whole entire park in a nutshell.

Although it’s clear that attempts are being made to make it feel more ‘themed’ with the opening of the safari themed area to the right of the entrance, the rest of the park is starting to feel tired, derelict in some areas and lacking in high quality attractions.

The price tag of £20.00 per person may also seem reasonable and in reality if you have much younger children then it probably is, but if you have older ones they’re going to get very bored very quickly!

Lightwater Valley caters more to a much younger audience of 6 and under than it does for their entire target audience.

In truth, most of the rides currently featured at Lightwater Valley cater to a much younger audience of 6 and under as opposed to 12 and under.

This means that older ones visiting the park effectively have around 4 to 5 rides they will be able to experience and enjoy.

With Flamingo Land Resort so nearby and with that park offering far more in the way of a more balanced ride offering for all ages it’s pretty obvious which park the public will most likely choose to visit in the years ahead, even with Flamingo Land’s higher admission charge.

For this reason, unless Lightwater Valley make DRASTIC changes in the years ahead and start adding more in the way of permanent large scale thrill rides for the older ones in our opinion their time is very limited.

The park may also appear busy when you visit, but in order to secure their future they need consistent footfall throughout all periods of the year and not just school holidays.

In summary unless Lightwater Valley starts investing heavily and takes notice of the current dilapidated state of things we can definitely see the park permanently closing in the next two to three years at best!

Check out our vlog covering yesterday’s visit below and see how things currently look for yourself.