Most families with older children will want to spend a day at a theme park, and Flambards is, according to my kids, the best in Cornwall. What is really nice about it is that it has some tame rides for youngsters, big rides for thrill seekers, interesting indoor galleries of historic times past and some very pleasant gardens. It's also quite affordable compared with other theme parks such as Alton Towers.
History of Flambards
Flambards theme park near Helston began as an aviation museum but steadily built on its success. It continues to offer new attractions and ideas every time I visit. Started by Douglas Kingsford Hale when he retired as an RAF pilot, he was recently awarded the MBE for his services to tourism in Cornwall.
Open from March through November, Flambards has limited attractions on some days and the admission price reflects this with savings of about £7.50 per person. In peak summer season, and most weekends of course, all the rides and attractions are open.
Those wanting to enjoy the historic exhibits, museums, exhibitions and gardens without paying for the rides can visit on a midweek Orange day on the Flambards calendar, which are also popular days with school trips. Yellow days, in comparison, offer all the rides, museums, exhibitions and special events and some days in August there are even fireworks shows in the evenings. It's best to check the Flambards calendar before planning your visit.
Younger visitors to Flambards
If you head right from the entrance you will reach the play area and rides for younger children such as carousels, a pirate ship, Tea Cups and the Animal Express.
The CoolZone is undercover if it's either too hot or too wet to be outside and is designed for children under 1.4 metres, so basically under 11's. Within that area there is a Tots Zone for tinies and a Sealegs Safari for more boisterous older kids.
There is another larger section for youngsters at the one2eleven area. It is crammed with interactive activities such as a soft ball swamps, slides, tunnels, rope walkways and cannons. Parents get comfy seating for overseeing youngsters play and there is a café. However, there is an additional charge for this area which you might not wish to pay for on top of the regular admission, but it is less crowded and great fun.
The big undercover exhibitions are right in front of the entrance and include the recreation of Britain in the Blitz, which explains the amazing fortitude and deprivation of older generations who lived through the air raids during World War II.
There is also an informative war gallery with cannons, and a tribute to the history of flying in the Aviation Experience. This display has life-size aircraft models and pays tribute to Charles Kingsford Smith who made the first flight from Australia to England in 1929. You can also learn about Concorde and see the replica flight deck equipped with original artifacts.
Further along, the Victorian Village has 50 cottages, businesses, an authentic schoolroom and shop windows laid out along a cobbled street. It shows typical sets with antique equipment such as fire pumps and period dress.
The Apothecary was actually a chemist's shop in South Petherton which closed in 1909 when the apothecary died. It remained sealed and untouched for 70 years before being sold at auction to Flambards where it remains intact. These award-winning displays are very interesting to browse and see. The sights and sounds brings it all vividly to life and the audio tour allows you to learn more about life a century or more ago.
Finally, the Hands on Science area is an Imaginarium-type attraction where everyone can experiment with mirrors, lasers and optical illusions.
Thrilling rides at Flambards
Prepare for some serious thrills with Skyraker 001 which spins riders up to a great height and then drops, Thunderbolt which turns riders upside down as it spins, the Hornet roller coaster and the latest white knuckle ride, Extreme Force. Prepare for a soaking on the Canyon River Log Flume or ride the Cyclocopter with a partner.
As you can see, Flambards has something for everyone and remains one of Cornwall's most visited attractions.
Have you visited Flambards as a tourist or on a school trip? What did you enjoy the most? What single attractions would you recommend to others planning a visit to Flambards?