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While it might not be the most famous theme park in the UK, Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire, Wales, holds fond memories and nostalgia for many.
Unfortunately, it has reportedly been described as the “worst theme park in the UK” by many social media users.
The park has over 1000 negative reviews on TripAdvisor and a three star rating.
And, some have said that it’s a “place to avoid at all costs” and a “waste of time and money”.
It’s even been given a one star review 600 times on the site – with reasons being cited as “poor maintenance” and “rude and upsetting staff”.
But, on the other hand, almost 500 people have rated the park five stars saying it’s “a great day out” with a “good mix of rides” and is “underrated” and “thrilling”.
So what’s the truth?
Well, journalist Rhodri Harrison, from South Wales, visited the park in September 2021 to see whether it really could be considered the “worst in the UK”.
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Writing for WalesOnline he said: “Being from South Wales, I always had fond memories of visiting Oakwood with friends and family.
“When you think of Oakwood; 'Megophobia' , 'Drenched' (which was renamed from Hydro in 2011) and 'Speed' probably spring to the front of your mind and rightfully so."
He decided to check whether the complaints around value for money, poor maintenance and hit-miss availability of rides were true.
Rhodri said: “Booking tickets was reasonably straight forward, booking and paying online came to £35.50, a steep price when considering other theme parks in the UK are slightly cheaper with more rides.
“Upon getting to the park is when the first wave of disappointment hit.”
Apparently the iconic Megaphobia wooden rollercoaster was closed for his visit. Rhodri said: “The ride has become an iconic talking point within Oakwood Park for reaching speeds of around 50mph with being regarded as one of the top wooden coasters in Europe.
“I wasn't the only visitor getting disappointed by the news. Not the ideal first thing to hear when you're yet to step foot on the site, no warning or statement was issued the night before when I had previously booked and most likely would not have booked if I had known about the closure.”
Bounce was also shut and its reopening has been pushed back due to Covid.
Next Rhodri spotted that the water ride Drenched was only open from 2pm, but Vertigo was available – although you do have to pay an extra £25 on top of your ticket price to go on the popular attraction. You’ll also need to pay an extra £10 to use the kids’ shooting range.
Rhodri added that some of the other rides were “worse for wear” such as Bob Sleigh – a sledge ride that “hurts your legs and back” and people got “stuck on the way up”.
And, the pedalos and lake were also not “in the best condition”. Rhodri said: “The pedal boat almost feels like you're sinking at times, taking on water if you try and go too fast and progressively getting harder to navigate through the greenery in the water.”
Luckily, queues were not a problem for the thrill-seeker on his day out which is a mega bonus and he enjoyed the pirate ship ride despite it needing “some TLC and maybe a lick of paint.”
And, Rhodri added: “Both the Treetops and Speed coasters are great, you can't really complain too much about them. Both go at incredible speeds and queues on the day meant we could just continue on the ride until we were dizzy, after re-queuing.”
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The journalist commented that there were limited food options which were “poor quality” and “tasted frozen” and there were wasp traps above the food queue due to previous infestations. Lovely.
Over all though, Rhodri declared: “I think it was unfortunate that 'Megaphobia' was closed during our visit, it's the main attraction of the park in my eyes and you can't think about Oakwood without that ride and vice versa.
“It is in dire need of some TLC, it just feels to me like it is running off the past with old music blaring across the park and a number of rides being closed, it's a disappointing sight to see when paying a reasonably expensive fee.
“It feels neglected and it would be great to see some of the old rides return and new to enter the park, the last rollercoaster was in 2017 and it is aimed at the younger audience.
“I don't agree with the negative reviews and calling it the "UK's worst theme park" but that is the harsh reality it faces today and it needs to act upon the feedback.”
The Daily Star reached out to Oakwood Theme Park for comment.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments…
- Theme Parks
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