During my last visit to Paultons Park back in 2019, we took a look at the ongoing construction of the Tornado Springs area which was due to open in 2020.
Sadly due to the Coronavirus pandemic the opening had to be delayed by a year, but with the Government's Covid-19 restrictions now sufficiently relaxed, the park was able to finally open the new area on Monday 12th April 2021.
Although I wasn't able to visit that day, I travelled down to Hampshire to meet up with my friend Paul and visit on the following Saturday to see it in operation during its first official weekend.
Although visitor attractions including theme parks are allowed to open again, there are still many restrictions in place.
As part of its social distancing measures, Paultons is currently operating at less than its usual capacity, so we had to book our tickets online a few days in advance.
Although theme parks are back open, opening indoor attractions is still illegal until May at the earliest
First thing, we headed across to see Tornado Springs, bumping into some ECC friends at the entrance who had already taken their first rides!
The new Route 83 Diner has been set up with lots of outdoor seating as indoor dining is not currently allowed
Plenty of choices on the menu
Cyclonator is a 25 metre tall Gyro Swing, and the first real major thrill ride for the park
Windmill Towers are a pair of small drop towers for those seeking less of a full-on thrill
We were excited to try out the new Storm Chaser rollercoaster, but seeing the 40 minute queue we decided to go back later in the day
There are hand sanitiser stations scattered all over the park
Keen to ride our first rollercoaster in 9 months, we settled for a quick go on Cat-O-Pillar Coaster as we passed it
Velociraptor only had a tiny queue, so we were able to make our second ride a little more substantial than Cat-O-Pillar Coaster!
Next up was Cobra, which Paul and I realised is fifteen years old this year. We'd been at Paultons for its opening day those many years previously!
Paultons Park are requiring visitors to wear masks in every queueline. The requirement to wear them on-ride differs from ride to ride, depending on whether different groups would need to ride together or in separate ride vehicles such as on Cobra.
Extra fencing has been added to several queuelines to help keep people safely apart ... it all makes it feel a bit like a scare maze!
Fifteen years old, and Cobra is still a fantastic rollercoaster
Time for a quick coffee and kitkat break after our ride
It was also the day of Prince Philip's funeral, and the park would be observing the national one minute silence in his memory
Back over at Tornado Springs, the queue for Al's Auto Academy was snaking out of the entrance
The ride allows children to drive their own 50s era car around a road layout
With the queuetime down to 25 minutes, it was finally time for our first ride on Storm Chaser
Most of the Storm Chaser queueline is undercover
Paultons were doing everything they could to make sure people felt safe
The queueline is themed like a barn, with lots of old farming equipment scattered around
Genuine farmyard coffee cup theming
We got our first ride in the back seats
Storm Chaser is a superb ride
Unfortunately our car was slightly misaligned when we arrived back at the station and our restraints didn't open. Solution? Send us around for another lap ... oh what a shame! ;-)
Storm Chaser, along with the rest of Tornado Springs, is a wonderful addition to the Park
There's a whole range of Tornado Springs merch for sale. I bought a Route 83 pin badge for my collection.
After our morning of excitement, we got lunch from the new Route 83 Diner
We sat on one of the plentiful benches in Tornado Springs
The curly fries were excellent. While not the greatest, the burger wasn't too bad.
Wanting something gentle to let our lunch settle, we took a ride on the Rio Grande Train which had been closed during Tornado Springs construction and has been re-routed to pass through the new area.
Riding into Tornado Springs
Through the trees beside the river
We'd chosen the right moment to ride the train - there was a long queue for it when we arrived back at the station
Extra picnic benches have been added around the park to give more space for people to eat outside
As ever, Paultons Park's gardeners are doing a brilliant job keeping everything in tiptop condition
The gardens looked beautiful in the warm afternoon sunshine
Time for a tour ...
Ice cream time!
As normal, it was well worth the long wait
Dino Chase, so we could complete the full 2021 Paultons coaster lineup
Social distancing on my own yellow spot
Chasing dinosaurs through queueline fences
A ginormous field of daffodils
Back to Storm Chaser for a couple more rides: it had really sped up by the end of the afternoon!
People used to come to Paultons Park to visit Peppa Pig, but she's now got some serious competition from her new American neighbours
Real ducks, meet fake ducks
Keeping going with the Covid rules
Yet more picnic tables!
I took this photo as proof that the wait time was supposed to be 20 minutes, just in case it turned out to be longer and Paul got into trouble for being late
As it turned out, it was very quick and we were on our royal tour within quarter of an hour
The castle flags were flying at half mast in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh
After a fun day, it was time to leave. The weather had been sunny and warm all day, most people did a good job social distancing and following the Covid rules, and Tornado Springs looks superb with a wonderful new rollercoaster and some of the best theming in the UK.
More about the Park