Oakwood Theme Park is an amusement park located in Canaston Bridge which is in Pembrokeshire, South Wales about 8 miles east of Haverfordwest. The amusement park opened as a small family park back in the late 1980s with only BMXs, a 3D-style cinema show, go-karts, a modest water chute ride and a wooden fort making up its list of attractions.
It is an amusement park which was developed by the McNamara family under the company name Oakwood Leisure Ltd as the result of them being farmland owners who made the decision to diversify into the leisure sector as a result of the introduction of the milk quota within the farming sector around this time.
As the family were also keen conservationists, great care was taken to ensure that the design of the amusement park had as little impact upon the environment as possible. In fact, many trees were actually used to enhance and provide natural avenues for many of the initial rides at the amusement park.
Over the years, and in keeping with other amusement parks, a lot of popular but outdated rides have been replaced with larger and more thrill seeking rides which initially caused some consternation with some of the regular visitors who felt that the amusement park was no longer in keeping with its original traditions but which the owners thought necessary if it the amusement park was going to be sustainable and in a position to attract new visitors.
Today, the owners’ vision has paid off with over 400, 000 visitors coming to the amusement park each year making it one of Wales’ most popular tourist attractions and one of the Top 10 amusement parks in the UK.
The amusement park today plays host to 5 large thrill rides – Megafobia, The Bounce, Vertigo, Hydro and its latest addition, Speed, which has the steepest drop of any thrill ride in the UK and, at 2000 feet, is the tallest of its type in the world.
For youngsters visiting the amusement park, there’s the Brer Rabbit Burrow train ride, the Treetops Coaster as well as a playground area called the Lost Kingdom and you can also pan for gold in the Oakwood gold rush.
This is an amusement park which has had to adapt itself to evolve into an attraction which can still hold an appeal to both thrill seekers and yet maintain its ‘family friendliness’ as it’s never going to be big enough to compete on a grand scale with the likes of Thorpe Park, for example.
However, the amusement park does have a good reputation amongst theme park enthusiasts and even attracts many visitors from Ireland with the ferry terminal relatively close by.
The amusement park is open from early April to early November but is closed on occasional days so it’s important to check the website before travelling.
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