Camel Creek Family Theme Park near Wadebridge is gearing up for the summer with a host of exciting new additions to the park, including a state-of-the-art film 5D cinema and a thrilling line-up of character meet-and-greets from Peppa Pig to Titan the Robot via your favourite superheroes.
Open daily, the park has launched a Summer of Fun offer, allowing unlimited visits until September 4 for just £25pp. There are rides to suit all ages, from the Kiddie’s Carousel to fan favourite rollercoaster Morgawr, and the high-octane Airbender. Take a break and fill your bellies at two new food outlets: Swampy’s Pizza and Creeky’s Donuts.
Until very recently, my daughter would have given her right arm to visit a theme park in the holidays, writes Kirstie Newton. However, she recently turned 12 and is now suspicious of anything that might be construed as childish or “uncool”. In her mind, Camel Creek was gentle teacup rides and people dressed as dinosaurs; could she be convinced that there was enough to keep a pre-teen happy?
Upon arrival, we studiously avoided the “dinosaur” welcome party and headed for a ride she was previously too small/young for: the Airbender rollercoaster. It was a huge hit, and we went on it several times – a great start.
Next, we checked into the new 5D cinema, which was showing a film in which Leonardo da Vinci finds his work interrupted by a rogue paintbrush. Buckle into a moving seat, don your goggles and prepare for a film with an added dimension (or two). Look out for an exhilarating new movie, Base Zero; your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save civilisation from the threat of advanced alien technology. (Static chairs are available for a less-bumpy 3D experience).
Then came the wet rides. These were immensely popular during the heatwave, and small wonder. We were thoroughly drenched on the Thunder Falls (aka log flume) and Raging Rivers (a water slide with dinghies). Fortunately, there’s a heater just outside the Morgawr ride – the whole family can step inside and dry off for £2.
We enjoyed a mouth-watering lunch at the recently opened Swampy’s Pizza, then headed off to the stables for a highlight of the day: the Camel Creek Junior Keeper Experience. Visitors aged 8+ can join the park’s expert animal care team in their daily work, getting hands-on with feeding, grooming and cleaning.
Camel Creek started life as Trelow Farm; the owners opened a visitor centre specialising in shire horses, which was taken over as a Cornwall offshoot of Devon-based Crealy in 2003 (it became independent and rebranded as Camel Creek in 2016). Animals remained a key part of the business, setting Camel Creek apart from its competitors; you can see meerkats, reptiles, ferrets, chinchillas, rats, birds, kunekune pigs and pygmy goats as well as horses.
The meerkat keeper’s experience is the most popular, by some margin. There are six meerkat brothers here: Cooper, Charles, Casper, Cody, Chester and Chase. They were born three years after the park became Camel Creek, hence the C theme (ditto Cassie the horse), and in keeping with that theme, they are every bit as cheeky, cute and captivating as you’d expect a mob of meerkats to be.
Under the supervision of keepers Adam and Morgan, Daughter fed the excitable creatures live mealworms and morios (aka super giant mealworms – yum). The meerkats squabbled and scrambled at her feet, climbed on her lap and tapped her on the shoulder in the hope of a juicy treat. The action then moved inside, as she helped to clean out the toilet area and nestboxes and wipe the windows with a squeegee, before scattering live crickets in a ball pool for the meerkats to forage.
All the while, she had plenty of questions for her patient mentors, as did we. There are five keepers, and they all have their particular interests – Morgan loves mammals, while Adam is fascinated by reptiles. They clearly love their job, and had plenty of tips for us on looking after pets in hot weather, including ice packs and frozen water bottles, especially for rabbits (of which there are several at Camel Creek).
It was a fun and illuminating hour. I have never seen Daughter participate so readily in household tasks, and live in hope that this experience will encourage her to feed the cats or clean out the rabbit hutch at home. The chances are somewhat slim, but I can dream.
There was just enough time for us to do a final round of the park. “Can we go on the Airbender again? Can I say goodbye to the horses?” Daughter pleaded. The day had been an unqualified success. Camel Creek: you’ve still got it.
Camel Creek Family Theme Park, Tredinnick, Wadebridge PL27 7RA.
Prices: Adults and children over 105cm, £23.95; children between 92cm and 105cm, £18.95; under 92cm, free. Concessions available for families, seniors and emergency service workers. All tickets include re-entry for the week. Summer of Fun special offer: unlimited visits until September 4 for just £25pp.
Tickets to Camel Creek can be purchased on entry or online at www.camelcreek.co.uk
The Junior Keeper Experience is priced at £45 for non-members, £30 to members. Price includes park entry, goody bag and certificate.