Summer is coming to an end. Our schooler friends return to their daily grind this week. And the fun must end. In this finale in our Summer Adventure series, we travel to Oakwood theme park.
If you are a thirteen-year-old #ActuallyAutistic girl who loves fast, crazzy rides then there is only one place to go in Wales…Oakwood Theme Park.
Oakwood is that same hour and a half train journey from Swansea. We merely get off one-stop soon in Narberth. We had been to Oakwood once before a couple of years ago with PanKwake’s older brother and her carer. She loved all the roller coasters…there are four. This time we went with our friend Hev, PanKwake’s best friend, the Artist, and her family.
I bought the tickets online and was pleasantly surprised that they were running a promotion. Four tickets cost us only £60. Of course, we added on the photo package and a turn on extreme ride, Vertigo. The whole thing was still only a bit over £100. Not bad for three adults and three children.
No, there is nothing wrong with your maths. That is six people and the special was for four. But Oakwood offers free admissions for the carers of the disabled. Since three of our party qualified as such, we had it covered. The webpage goes into a long list of the ‘acceptable proof of disability.’ I took PanKwake’s DLA (Disability Living Allowance) letter, my carer’s allowance letter, and her sixteen-page autism diagnosis. The women barely glanced at them.
Be aware the disabled access is a two-part process. The first is for admission so that the carer receives free entrance to the park. The second, and more important for PanKwake, is the fast pass for the rides, which allows queue jumping. After you get into the park, you take those same letters to another facility (this varies on the season, but is clearly signposted). They examine your letters again and issue a wrist band to the disabled person. Up to three other people in your party are given different colored wrist bands. This means that they can only queue jump when with the disabled person. This process was just as easy as admissions.
Like I said, PanKwake adored the rides. As did our crazzy friend, Hev. The Artist and her little brother Commando were a bit more so-so on some of them. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…
Of course, the highlight of the day was Vertigo. Turns out everybody first wanted to go, so I bought a second turn at £30. Then they chickened out. Not PanKwake or Hev, of course. They did round one…in the pouring rain. Kudos to them. On round two, they finally talked Commando into it. There are no pics of that one as Oakwood no longer takes official photos of this attraction. But I have the video, I will post to Prankwake.
Which brings me into the not-so-good bits of the day…
Oakwood has really gone downhill in the two years since we last visited.
- No photos on their premier and paid attraction Vertigo?
- Megafobia, one of their two top roller coasters, was closed for repairs for most of the day.
- But by far, the worst part of the day was…FOOD! PanKwake, of course, will only eat certain things. Oakwood, unlike Heatherton, does not post menus to their webpages. So, I had to call to see if they offered her current favorite, jacket potatoes. No, they do not. And unlike Folly Farm, they do not offer a microwave for guest use. After lots of finagling about disability access, customer relations got catering to agree to microwave PanKwake’s jacket potato that I brought with us. But it had to be certain facility. I bought food there for the rest of us. Or I tried to. Their selection was pitiful: half a dozen types of sandwiches. And of that, they were out of ham? My tuna mayo…well, I will have to take their word that there was tuna on it. My friend Alice, Artist and Commando’s parent, preferred the burger barn. The chicken burger she got there was as bad or worse than my tuna. I tried her fries. They had obviously not changed the oil in a while as it was rancid. Carnivals and theme park food are always dubious, but this was beyond the pale. The catering department needs some serious work during the offseason…and yes, I know as I used to work as a cook/chef.
Overall, the day was good. As a non-ride Mom, this was my least enjoyable and most stressful of our Summer Adventures. But to be fair, I don’t think PanKwake or Hev, who are ride aficionados would agree with that assessment. If we do it again next year, PanKwake has requested that we go on a Wednesday for the light show and specifically, a sunny day so that she can enjoy the water slides, especially Drenched, which she has yet to do. Of course, that means larger crowds and more stress for her…and me. We certainly will take our own food next time.