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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Theme park thrills 'over-priced'
Nemesis at Alton Towers
Researchers had long waits for a ride on Alton Towers' Nemesis
Families are paying high entrance fees and facing long queues at some of Britain's favourite theme parks, according to a Which? magazine report.

A family ticket for two adults and two young children visiting Alton Towers can cost up to 89, the survey found.

Researchers for the consumer magazine also visited Drayton Manor, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Flamingoland and Legoland last year.

Alton Towers said the price was value for money for a family day out.

Researchers said that - while the parks were a lot of fun for both children and adults - child prices were "particularly unfair".

Fast food

They found most of the parks charged children over 12 the full adult fare, except Legoland - although its child ticket was the most expensive at 24.

The survey also found thrill-seekers suffered the longest queues, often waiting more than an hour for a ride on Nemesis at Alton Towers or the Vampire rollercoaster at Chessington World of Adventures.

The magazine said long queues were the parks' biggest drawback, with opportunities missed of keeping people occupied during the dull wait for popular rides.

Legoland - adult 34, under-15 24
Alton Towers - adult 32, under-12 22
Thorpe Park - adult 32, under-12 20
Chessington World of Adventures - adult 29, under-12 19
Drayton Manor - adult 20.95, under-12 16.95
Flamingoland - all ages 20

It also criticised a number of the parks for selling only fast food, and having no nutritious choices.

Lorna Cowan, editor of Holiday Which?, said: "The whole family will have a great day out at a theme park, but if you've got teenagers, a family of four could end up spending almost 130 - and that's just to get in."

She advised families to book ahead to ensure a good deal.

A spokeswoman for the Tussauds Group which owns Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures, said it was "disappointed" with the report's findings.

She said many visitors were able to get cheaper tickets online or through special price deals.

Queues for some of the big rides were part of the experience to help build a sense of anticipation, and healthy food options had been introduced since the researchers' visit last year, she added.

Legoland, meanwhile, said child prices were higher than elsewhere because children were able to experience everything in the park - whereas in other parks there may be, for example, height restrictions on some rides.

The attractions - Alton Towers and Drayton Manor in Staffordshire, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park in Surrey, Flamingoland in North Yorkshire and Legoland in Windsor - were selected as being the six most visited by market researchers Mintel.

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23 Mar 07 |  Staffordshire

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