A GOOD weekend for Boris Johnson would likely consist of red wine, posh nosh and a highbrow book.
So he raised eyebrows when pictured at Peppa Pig World last weekend with wife Carrie and their tot Wilfred.
It was even more out of character when the Prime Minister later sang the praises of the attraction, at Hampshire’s Paultons Park, in a talk to business leaders.
Not the obvious place to chat about rollercoasters for pre-schoolers.
But I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised, as my own visit to Peppa Pig World with my toddler this summer left a similarly lasting impression.
It’s the mark of a good time that four months after our visit to Paultons Park, each week my two-year-old son still asks when we’ll go back — and I’m convinced I’ll never see a theme park in the same way again, either.
Paultons had a lot of hype to live up to before our visit because it has been the UK’s No1 amusement park in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards for five years in a row.
But everything from the quality of the rides to the food and drink on offer, the friendliness of the staff and even the cleanliness of the toilets was first-class.
Thanks to its star tenant, the most famous pig in the world (sorry, Babe), the place attracts a lot of families with young children.
We spent a good two hours in Peppa Pig World, on rides like Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club, The Queen’s Flying Coach, Grandpa Pig’s Little Train and Peppa’s Big Balloon.
But Paultons Park is more than just Peppa Pig World, and in my opinion the best rides are found in the rest of the theme park — where the queues are shorter too.
While there are plenty of attractions for older children, including the newly opened Cyclonator gyro swing and Storm Chaser rollercoaster, what’s refreshing is the number of rides for children aged five and under.
Most theme parks cater for pre-schoolers, but Paultons has something for them everywhere you look — not just within a small section of the park.
Venturing beyond Peppa Pig World, my son rode a tractor, sailed in a pirate ship, drove his own car (pedals and all), was squirted in the face by a dinosaur on the Jurassic-themed train ride and toured the park on a miniature railway. And there was plenty more we didn’t have time for.
Best of all, nearly all rides had queues of no more than ten minutes.
This might not be a turbo-charged Disney park but every single member of staff is smiley and helpful.
An impressed mum friend who joined me on the trip said: “You actually feel like they want you to have a great day.”
Their app is also impressive, with an easy-to-use interactive map that tells you about nearby rides and how long the wait times are, as well as listing the nearest food stalls and what type of food they offer.
But I’m almost embarrassed to say what left the best impression on me — the baby-changing facilities.
Because I’m a 37-year-old mum and not a thrill-seeking teenager, that’s what turns my head these days and they’re the best I’ve ever seen.
The very first one we visited had spotless mats, a toilet with mini seat for child-sized bottoms, a chair strapped to the wall next to the loo for babies while the parent does their business, and a breastfeeding cubicle with a microwave for heating up bottles.
Boring stuff, I know, but I’ve changed my child’s nappy in many public facilities and, trust me, what I’ve just described is The Ritz of baby-changing.
It’s details like this that make it feel like Paultons was designed by families, for families, which is probably why it does so well year after year in reviews by members of the public.
GO: Paulton’s Park
GETTING THERE: Paultons Park is just off Junction 2 of the M27 at Romsey, Hants. Southampton train station is a 15-minute taxi drive from the park.
PLAYING THERE: Children under one metre in height go free. For those one metre and above, prices are from £37.75pp, £110.75 per family of three, £147 per family of four and £183.75 per family of five.
Christmas at Paultons is running on selected dates from December 4 to 23.
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