Peppa Pig World is a new part of Paultons Park, a small theme park down near Southampton. see details here. It is beautifully designed and very well thought out, with 7 Peppa themed rides, plus an outdoor splash area, indoor soft play and outdoor playground.
We had shown both girls the web page, so they both knew where we were going and were excited. The trip started off well, with both happily watching DVDs in the back of the car. An hour into the hour and a half journey though, it began to go wrong. Sasha played with the little ash tray in the arm of the back door and then became very frustrated when she couldn't get it to close again. Cue near hysterics because neither Chris nor I could reach it, and Sasha screaming that she wanted to go home. We ended up having to pull off the motorway and find somewhere to stop to calm her down. (Parents, take note, this is the main reason for us not making the 4-5 hour journey home very often, it's really not because we don't like you ;) ). The only way we could persuade her to carry on with the journey was to move Tamsin into the front seat, and for me to sit in the back right next to Sasha, holding her hand tightly. Not the most comfortable trip! She had recovered slightly by the time we arrived thankfully, and in we went. Car park was packed (so much for school days being quiet!) but there was hardly any queue for entering, and that was perfect for us.
We found our way quickly to Peppa Land, along with most of the other park visitors. We let the day run mostly to Sasha's agenda, to avoid upsets. Thankfully Tamsin was having so much fun I don't think she really noticed that - and if she did she was very good about it! The niggles crept back in as the day went on and Sasha became more tired, and these culminated in a huge meltdown by the SkySwinger ride. This is a ride where you sit as if on a swing, and you are then spun round high up in the air. Both girls have been on and loved similar versions previously, but none quite as high or fast as this! For that reason there was an age and height limit, and children at the smaller end had to sit in a special joined double seat next to the adult. Well, this was something Sasha had not seen before, and as we walked towards the ride she expected to be able to sit in her own seat, just like Tamsin. When I tried explaining she would have to sit next to me, all hell broke loose and she simply wouldn't, as she obviously didn't understand why that was necessary. This meant I had to remove her from the ride and pass her kicking and screaming to Chris (who can't stomach 'twirly' rides!!), whilst running back to secure Tamsin in her seat and get on myself. At the very last minute Sasha realised the ride would start without her and so she sobbed that she did want to sit in the seat next to mummy after all (not in so many words!), so I ran back to grab her and sit her on. Of course once on and up, she loved it, and we then repeated the ride several times! After effect; one shaky and stressed mummy but happy girls as usual!
I was then very glad we had booked an overnight hotel through Paultons Park breaks - that meant we got 2 days in the park for the price of one. We had originally intended to spend our second day at the beach, but the weather was overcast, and as the girls had had so much fun we thought we may as well make the most of it! A lot of thought has gone into the planning of the new Peppa Pig World - there were plenty of separate things to climb on/up/under/over in the playground, and the huge indoors area with softplay, which means all children don't have to take turns for very long... plus Peppa's house to visit, and the school rooms; photo opportunities not to be missed!
Our day(s) there were made so much more enjoyable by the Queue Assist Scheme which Paultons Park runs. This is similar to some run by other major parks/attractions, and it means that those registered disabled, or who have social interaction problems or limited understanding, can go to the exit gate of each ride and be admitted in order to not have to wait in a queue. It can only be used once for each ride, which I think is a fair way of doing it. We did feel bad and awkward when using this though, as it meant that other families who had already queued for some time had to wait just that bit longer as we jumped into the next carriage available. So we 'queue-jumped' with slightly heavy hearts and heads down, not looking anyone in the eye, and wished people could understand. As Sasha's disability is hidden, and she acts most of the time like a perfectly able little girl, I'm sure some were 'miffed' to put it politely. For those reading who don't have Special Needs children, all I can say is that I would gladly swap Sasha's disability and have her be 'normal' and therefore be able to make her understand how to wait in a queue.....