Last weekend we hopped into the car for an impromptu trip to Skegness. Although we do love the British seaside we weren’t there to eat fish and chips and walk down the promenade. The aim of our visit was to explore Fantasy Island.
A brand new park for me, and somewhere Carl hadn’t visited since he was a wee lad, Fantasy Island is UK amusement park that opened in 1995.
Having done our usual scout of online video watching, we had quite high expectations. After all, on paper it has a bit of everything we like; two large rollercoasters, a couple of kitschy looking dark rides and some nausea-inducing flat rides. All in all, we were ready to have a brilliant day out.
But did Fantasy Island live up to our expectations? Today we’re here to share the highs and lows of our trip.
Fantasy Island: The Highs
As one of the main draws of Fantasy Island, this Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster (SLC) cuts quite an imposing figure when you drive up to the park. As the third tallest coaster in the uk (after Stealth at Thorpe Park and Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach) it’s an impressive 167ft tall and features five inversions.
As the very painful Infusion at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also an SLC, we honestly weren’t expecting big things from this ride. Infusion is renowned as being one of the roughest coasters in the UK and, to Charlotte especially, it felt like riding a bigger version of Infusion would just equal more pain.
But, alas, we were wrong. Odyssey is actually an incredibly enjoyable coaster that we both loved. We sat on the back row and felt like it was a good choice. The first half was the most intense part with the drop into the huge loop being the biggest highlight. It kind of tapered off towards the end but all-in-all we were taken largely by surprise at how good Odyssey is.
The pyramid theming
Fantasy Island has an indoor section named the Pyramid which houses a food court, arcades, crazy golf and a number of small family attractions.
For a seaside amusement park, the pyramid is as well-themed as anything I’ve seen in a UK park. When we walked in we were genuinely quite surprised at how stunning it was.
The lighting is kept low with fake trees adorned with sparkling lights which creates a neat mystical aesthetic.
There’s no real theme, you’ll find dinosaurs, hot air balloons, a volcano, jungle creatures, a vintage carousel and Jamaican chicken shops – it’s all a bit of a mishmash. But the lighting creates such a great atmosphere that it all feels like it works together.
Fantasy Island has also made use of projection mapping on the volcano which just adds to the mystical vibe of the pyramid. A really fab themed area that – similar to the indoor area at M&Ds – really gave me something to smile about.
I personally don’t visit theme parks for the massive coasters, I’m all about the theming, so these random sections that are well themed give me something to get excited about at smaller parks.
Fantasy Island prices
There’s three options for paying into Fantasy Island;
- a discovery wristband which gets you on all the rides
- an adventurer wristband which is perfect for little ones including all rides with a height limit under 1.1m
- a pay-as-you-go system where you can just pay for the rides you want to go on
We pre-booked our Fantasy Island tickets online for a discounted rate of £19.80 for the discovery wristband. We felt this was fairly reasonable and we got our money’s worth.
I would say, however, that a Sunday ticket to Blackpool Pleasure Beach is currently £28 and I think for an extra £9 it’s much better value.
Where the prices at Fantasy Island really come into their own though is the onsite costs of food and drink. An average meal in one of their fast food restaurants is less than £6 which we thought was very cheap. The food wasn’t half bad either for burgers and chips.
If you fancy grabbing a pint while you’re there, there are plenty of places that advertise £2 pints too.
Fantasy Island opening hours
We visited Fantasy Island on the last weekend of August and during that day it was open from 10.30am-8pm. And that’s the norm for Sunday in summer.
W couldn’t fault the opening hours at all. This is probably helped by the park being open to all with people milling around late into the evening. As the park was quiet when we visited, we didn’t really need to be there until 8pm but it was good to know we could have stayed late to ride in the dusk if we wanted to.
With parks like Alton Towers increasingly cutting opening hours short, it’s great that there’s still some smaller parks in the UK maximising opening hours.
Fantasy Island queues
And last but not least for our highs is the queues. We were on the next train of every ride we queued for, despite the park looking pretty busy. There must have been quite a lot of people there on a pay-as-you-ride basis. We mentioned this when we visited M&Ds as well, but these smaller UK parks really are favourable when it comes to queue times which means you can get the absolute most from your day.
Fantasy Island: The Lows
I mentioned in the intro for this post that I was really looking forward to riding some kitschy dark rides at Fantasy Island.
Unfortunately, they didn’t quite live up to my expectation.
The two dark rides – Seaquarium and Toucan Tours – both had fairly loose storylines and tired animatronics. I’d say Toucan Tours is the better of the two, and it’s pretty cool venturing round the Pyramid and seeing it from up high, but I couldn’t tell you what the story was trying to achieve.
As for Seaquarium, the less said the better. For me, the ride didn’t really have any charm. A bit of a miss for me unfortunately.
General park operations
Unfortunately the operations are what really let Fantasy Island down.
Let’s just say, it’s a good job we were almost always at the front of the queue because it took about 10 minutes for each of the coaster trains to be loaded.
There was only one train running on each coaster, which I can understand as it’s a small park. But I hate to think how long the queues would be if it was a busy day.
I was also excited to give the Italian restaurant The Olive Tree a try but it was closed, along with every other interesting food outlet, leaving us with no other options than burgers and chicken nuggets. When they have jerk chicken, pasta and pub food advertised on the website, this was a bit of a shame.
Finally, Air Maxx 360 was advertised on the website the day before, but was nowhere to be seen on the day. The map was also out of date, with The Beast showing which we believe was replaced with Air Maxx 360.
The park posted a picture of Air Maxx 360 a few days before our trip and we’re still none the wiser of where the ride went.
This was probably my most anticipated ride at the park. A spinning coaster that was new for 2019, this was a popular attraction at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland that is now a permanent fixture at Fantasy Island.
Touted as ‘cavern illuminated with coloured floating ice’ on the website, this seemed to be a themed coaster in the dark; right up my street.
In the end it was pretty disappointing. There was pretty much no theming inside the ride and it hurt like hell. I’m glad we did it but we weren’t really feeling any re-rides.
The park layout
Last but not least for the lows is the park layout. Man it’s confusing to find your way around this place. The map doesn’t help one bit either.
As anyone is free to roam around Fantasy Island and there’s a massive market smack bang in the middle of it, it’s really easy to lose your bearings and I kept getting very confused about where we were in relation to the rides. Nothing is particularly well signposted either, including the desks to go and pick up your tickets.
So that’s that, our highs and lows of Fantasy Island in Skegness. We both enjoyed our day here, but for us it wasn’t really worth the four hour round-trip.
We’re really glad we gave it a go, but it would take a pretty big investment to have us going back again.
Have you ever visited Fantasy Island? What are your highs and lows?