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|Location||North Stainley, North Yorkshire, England|
|Slogan||The Ultimate Family Adventure|
|Owner||Brighton Pier Group|
|Operated by||Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd.|
|Operating season||April to November|
|Area||175 acres (708,000 m2)|
Lightwater Valley was founded by Robert Staveley in 1969, and is now owned and operated by The Brighton Pier Group, having been purchased by them for £5 million in 2021.
The park features approximately 30 rides and attracts approximately 500,000 visitors per year.
In 1969, Lightwater Valley began as a small self-pick fruit farm attraction. The farm was owned by the Staveley family, who had owned the land since 1516. In 1976, the farm was affected by drought, which resulted in the excavation of a lake to help reduce the effects of a future drought. The lake's popularity instigated the transition of the farm into a tourist attraction. Early attractions included an adventure playground (later Fort William), canoes, rowing boats and a circus. Later on, Staveley introduced a petting zoo, BMX bikes, Go Karts, a pitch and putt golf course, a hell slide and a water chute ('Devil's Cascade', later re-themed to 'Toad Hole'). During this time, the park was advertised as a country park and self-pick fruit farm with a pay-one-price and ride-all-day system in place with the exception of a small number of pay-to-play attractions. A range of different fairground rides were introduced into the entrance areas of the park and the Lightwater Shopping Village was established.
The Lightwater Valley Theme Park was born when the Rat Ride was built in 1987. Robert Staveley wanted to expand on the family market and provide something for the thrill market whilst still being suitable for the younger audience. At the time, Robert Staveley's wife was a keen protector of the country park status and did not like the idea of having a roller coaster spoiling this. After much discussion, she permitted the construction of a roller coaster as long as it was out of sight. To accommodate his wife's wishes, Robert decided that he would bury the roller coaster underground and it became based on the dwellings of a sewer rat. The ride closed in 2009 for refurbishment and re-opened as Raptor Attack for the 2010 season. The ride was constructed by blasting large amounts of rock (which was sold) and capping the hole and exposed sides with a large barn style building. The ride attracted much attention, nearly doubling gate figures and paving the way for future developments including the park's first looping coaster, the Soopa Loopa, in 1988 which featured two vertical loops and a backward facing ride car.
Robert Staveley used the success of the Rat Ride to persuade his wife that a 'proper' roller coaster be built. He had liked the idea of having a roller coaster coming down the valley at the top of the park, but was faced with the challenge of getting people to the top of the valley to board the train. His wife suggested that the train be sent out to the top and then returned with the aid of two drops. In 1990, construction began on the world's longest roller coaster, costing £5.2 million and over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length, The Ultimate was opened to the public in 1991.
Additional rides and attractions were added throughout the decade, including roller coasters such as The Viper, The Batflyer, and The Ladybird. Water rides such as the Beaver Rapids log flume and Splash Falls were opened. A number of rides, including the Beaver Rapids and the Heatwave, were opened on short term leases instead of being purchased.
Change of Ownership
In the mid 1990s, Robert Staveley handed the park over to his children, Amanda and James. However, in 1997, there was a change of ownership from a private family firm to Queensborough Holdings, who bought the park for £5.2 million. The park was sold because it had run into financial difficulties following the heavy expenditure on The Ultimate.
Queensborough Holdings was also in ownership of the Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park at the time. Both parks were operated by Leisure Great Britain, part of Queensborough Holdings. However, the new owners put the park back up for sale within 11 months of buying it as they decided to re-focus their business. However, no bid was accepted during the following few years. The park was given a new lease of life in February 2001 when Lightwater Valley was bought by Ball Investments who used Heritage GB to manage the operations.
The new ownership brought about rapid investment in ride offerings and brand imaging with new logos, mascots, websites and rides such as The Treetop Twister and Black Widow's Web in the first year, followed by rides such as The Octopus, The Eagle's Claw, The Grizzly Bear, The Caterpillar Coaster, Trauma Tower and Skyrider.
Following the unfortunate incidents of 2001, guest figures plummeted from their 1990 averages. Continual improvements to the family offering, brand imaging and marketing have resulted in vast improvements to customer satisfaction and attendance figures. Some of these improvements included: investment in the re-theming of the Sewer Rat to Raptor Attack, the introduction of the first themed 'area', 'Skeleton Cove', with five new rides (bought from the now defunct Loudoun Castle park in Scotland) along with new family friendly attractions such as the Angry Birds Activity Park, Eagles Creek Farm, the Vintage Car Rally and Jurassic mini golf course. Successful events such as the ever-popular annual Frightwater Valley Halloween event, Pirates & Princesses weekend, and UK bungee jump days have attracted record gate figures.
During the late 2000s, talk began of the potential development of Lightwater Resorts. Initial planning permission for holiday caravans and log cabins was rejected by Harrogate Borough Council due to concerns about the impact on traffic and local businesses. The park later re-designed and re-submitted their planning permission for 106 log cabins which was then granted.
In June 2017, the park was sold to attractions operator Livingstone Leisure Ltd for an undisclosed amount.
After Livingstone Leisure Ltd bought the park, the decision was made to close the Lightwater Country Shopping Village at the end of the 2017 season.
The Bird Of Prey Centre was closed at the end of the 2018 season and did not return for 2019.
In 2021 the park announced it would be re-calibrating its attraction offering by focussing on the younger family audience. A number of older thrill rides were retired and new rides suited to younger children introduced. The Ultimate remained closed for the 2020 season and is due to remain standing but not operating for the 2021 season.
In June 2021, the park was sold to The Brighton Pier Group for £5 million. Chief executive Anne Ackord states, ‘I believe that, together, we can develop Lightwater Valley into the premier amusement destination across Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.’
Lightwater Valley has over 30 rides and attractions, ranging from thrill rides such as The Ultimate, Splash Falls, and small rides designed for children such as Dragon Boats. Lightwater Valley now categorizes their attractions into three groups: Rides & Attractions, Children's Play, and Entertainment. This distinguishes what rides are suitable for visitors and the expected height restriction for each.
|1||The Ladybird||steel sit down||1993||Zierer||A family coaster; height limit 1.3 m or 1.1 m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3 m.|
|2||The Little Dipper||steel sit down||2003||D.P.V. Rides (Pinfari)||A small, gentle children's rollercoaster; height limit 1.3 m or 1.1 m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3 m.|
|3||The Ultimate||hybrid sit down||1991||Big Country Motioneering, British Rail & Lightwater Valley||A hybrid coaster that holds the record as Europe's longest roller coaster at 7442 ft (2268 m); it reaches a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and a height of 107 ft (33 m); height limit 1.3 m. Standing but not operating for the 2021 season.|
|Savanna Express||Unknown||A children's train ride through African savannah, desert and jungle with life size animals. 1m+ to ride unaccompanied (under 1m can ride if accompanied by someone min. 16 years old and 1m+)|
|Elephant Flight||Kolmax-Plus||A flying elephant roundabout ride where riders can control the height of their elephant.|
|Jumping Kangaroos||Beston Rides||A small children's bouncing roundabout ride.|
|Monkey Drop||Unknown||A junior drop tower ride.|
|Animal Carnival||Hampton Rides||Animal themed roundabout ride formerly called Noah's Ark; height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|The Flying Cutlass||Huss||A swinging pirate ship; height limit 1.4m. Part of Skeleton Cove.|
|Powder Kegs||Huss||A 1998 Rodeo/Breakdance 4-ride themed around explosive barrels of gunpowder; height limit 1.3m, 1.2m when accompanied by an adult.|
|Skull Rock||Zamperla||A Regatta ride, boats follow undulating track at speed; height limit 1.3m or 1.1m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1,3m. Part of Skeleton Cove.|
|Pirate Swinger||Park Rides||Junior chair swings; height limit 0.9m-1.3m, no adults. Part of Skeleton Cove.|
|Wave Rider||Modern Products (Lindsey)||Mini Swinging Ship. Height limit 1.2m to ride or 1.0m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.2m.|
|Eagles Creek Farm||Metallbau Emmeln||A tractor ride. Height limit 1.3m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.|
|Trauma Tower||Moser's Rides||Small family orientated 5 + 5 drop tower; height limit 1.3m or 100m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old 1.3m.|
|Skyrider||Technical Park||A rock 'n' roll-themed Chair-O-Plane ride; height limit 1.3m|
|Thunderdome||Maxwell||A traditional 1960s fairground waltzer (on loan from John Armitage). Height limit 1.4m to ride or 1.2m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.4m.|
|Splash Falls||WhiteWater West||3 different water dinghy slides. Each dinghy seats 2 persons; height limit 1.3m unaccompanied. Slides 1&2: 1.2m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m. Slide 3: 1.1m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.|
|Hot Air Balloons||Zamperla||A lifting balloon roundabout ride.|
|Carousel||J. H. Rundle||Traditional fairground galloping horses and chariots; height limit 1.2m to ride horses unaccompanied, 1.0m or accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old 1.2m|
|Vintage Cars||Metallbau Emmeln||A vintage car rally ride with cars guided around a set track, themed around the London to Brighton run. Height limit 1.3m or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.|
|Dragon Boats||Diamond Electronics||Boat roundabout ride. Height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|Clownaround||Modern Products||Clown themed roundabout ride. Height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|Space Pirates||Modern Products||A selection of small rides for young children. Space Pirates, Lady Bug and Human Canonball: 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|Lady Bug||Modern Products||A selection of small rides for young children. Space Pirates, Lady Bug and Human Canonball: 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|Human Cannonball||Modern Products||A selection of small rides for young children. Space Pirates, Lady Bug and Human Canonball: 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.|
|Lightwater Express||Severn Lamb||A 15 in (381 mm) gauge narrow gauge railway, which operates around the perimeter of the park. Two steam-outline diesel locomotives are employed. Height limit 1.3m to ride (under 1.3m may ride if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m)|
|Swan Boats||Unknown||Pedal Boats; All under 16's must be accompanied by an adult (min. 0.9m in height)|
|Jurassic Adventure Golf||AC Attractions||A dinosaur themed pay-to-play miniature golf course situated just outside of the park entrance.|
|31||Adventure Play||2017||Interactive outdoor playground with net swings, slides and climbing frames. Under 12s only, parental supervision required at all times.|
|32||Jungle Jump||2017||Huge inflatable bouncy pillow 46 ft x 33 ft. Under 1.2 m in height to bounce (Under 5's must have 1:1 supervision by an adult).|
|33||Mini Sand Diggers||2017||Mini sand diggers|
|34||Jester's Jungle Fun||2019||An indoor interactive play zone for 4-7 year olds. Parental supervision required at all times.|
|35||Outdoor Play||2013||An interactive outdoor play zone for under 12 year olds. Formerly known as the Angry Birds Activity Park. Parental supervision required at all times.|
|36||Soft Play||2016||A jungle themed soft play area for the under 7's, complete with café for parents.|
|37||Toddler Play||An under 5's play zone located next to Jester's Jungle Fun. 2–5 year olds only, parental supervision required at all times.|
|38||Treetop Trails||2021||Formerly operated by Treetop Trek as Treetop Nets. Suspended woodland net trails included in entrance admission as of 2021.|
|39||Show Barn||2019||Entertainment venue.|
|40||Jester & Jasmine||2017||Park mascots.|
The Ultimate was designed by Big Country Motioneering (BCM) and the park's original owner, Robert Staveley. Construction began in early 1990, taking 18 months to complete. The ride's Canadian redwood trestles and large station building were constructed by Staveley's in-house construction team, which was responsible for building Lightwater Valley's other buildings. The metal track work was ordered from BCM who used fabricators 'Tubular Engineering' to manufacture it. However, much of the installation was largely undertaken in-house and supervised by engineers from British Rail after BCM were sacked due to track problems and slow progress. The scale of the project led to both contracted companies going bankrupt halfway through its construction, leaving Staveley's team and British Rail to finish the project on their own. Staveley got assistance from American and German roller coaster manufacturers, who advised him to ensure that there was enough flexibility in the track to allow for expansion and contraction under fluctuating temperatures. Overall, the project was over a year behind schedule and went significantly over budget. Staveley wanted to ensure that he was the first to ride his creation well in advance of its opening in order to give himself time to improve and re-work areas of track. He did so by riding in one of the trains that had not yet been fitted with any restraints, using only rope to secure himself.
The ride opened on 17 July 1991 by Frank Bruno. When opened, it was the world's longest rollercoaster at 1.5 miles (2.4 km), taking over 5 minutes to ride, and costing £5.2 million. Initially, Staveley had not set out to break any records and it was only once construction had gotten underway that a colleague exclaimed that there couldn't be a roller coaster longer than the one they were building. Later that day, a colleague was sent to Ripon to buy the Guinness Book of Records, which confirmed that the length of track that Staveley had ordered was well over the record. The Ultimate has two trains, which have both been reverted to the original navy blue colour after serving 17 years as red and blue. The trains also used to have over-the-shoulder-restraints until 1992 when they were removed and replaced with lap bar restraints to improve the ride experience.
A number of modifications had to be made following its opening. After a season of operation, a significant number of the bogies and wheels had cracks in them resulting in subsequent replacement and strengthening. One of the trains suffered from a wheel collapse on one of the train car chassis, resulting in minor injuries as the train coasted to a gradual stop.
In 2016, Lightwater Valley celebrated 25 years of The Ultimate.
The Ultimate did not operate during the 2020 season and is due to remain closed through 2021.
Initially, the park had a single mascot, Woody the Bear under Queensborough Holding's ownership. In 2001, Ball Investments introduced the Valligators to the park. The Valligators were three green alligator-costumed entertainers who acted as the park's mascots named Harry, Sally and Baby Al. In 2017, Livingstone Leisure replaced the Valligators with two new dinosaur mascots called Jester and Jasmine.
On 21 June 2001, 20-year-old Gemma Savage died following an accident the previous day when two carriages collided on Treetop Twister, a spinning Wild Mouse roller coaster, which had opened in May of that year. Police decided not to prosecute a maintenance worker, who claimed that he had only received an hour of training on that ride and had not seen its manual. Faulty wiring had also caused a malfunction on the ride. In October 2004, Deputy Coroner John Sleightholme at Skipton Magistrates' Court ruled death by misadventure.
Lightwater Valley's owners and electrician Eric Butters admitted to breaching health and safety laws at Leeds Crown Court on 14 November 2006. Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd was charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of riders. Butters was charged with failing to ensure safety through his work. Both pleaded guilty. A French manufacturer, Reverchon Industries SA, was convicted of two charges of failing to ensure the ride's safe design and construction.
In May 2019, a young boy fell 30 ft from The Twister and was left in critical condition. The ride was sold to a UK based showman at the end of the 2019 season. The park was fined £350,000 for health and safety breaches.
In 2015, the park reported energy efficiency savings of around £130,000 a year stemming from investment in renewable technologies. These include new carbon-neutral biomass boilers producing 400 kW per unit, enabling the park to move away from the conventional oil-based heating system. In addition, a new ground-mounted photovoltaic array was installed in the adjacent fields, which has supplied up to 45% of the park's energy demand. Much of the rest of the energy demand for the rides, including The Ultimate, is met by means of diesel generators.
|#||Name||Opened||Closed||Brief Description||Replaced by|
|1||Toad Hole||1985||2006||A semi-enclosed water chute, formerly called 'Devil's Cascade'.||Lightwater Wheel|
|2||The Sewer Rat||1987||2009||A Schwarzkopf Wildcat Type roller coaster, also known as 'The Rat Ride'.||Raptor Attack|
|3||Soopa Loopa||1988||1994||A double looping roller coaster manufactured by Soquet||Falls Of Terror|
|4||The Wave||1990||2010||A large Zamperla swinging ship located in the woods which closed because of a new pirate ship (The Flying Cutlass) opening in Skeleton Cove. Sold to Alex Crow.||The Flying Cutlass|
|5||Grand Prix Go Karts||1991||2010||Traditional go-kart track.||Skeleton Cove|
|6||The Mexican Hat||1994||2005||An ARM Trabant ride. Originally located at the park entrance area, then moved next to where Flying Camels is now.||The Octopus|
|7||Viper/Zyklen||1996||2001||A City Jet / Jet 400 type ride manufactured by Schwarzkopf.||Eagle's Claw|
|8||The Batflyer||1996||2002||A steel suspended roller coaster.||The Caterpillar Coaster|
|9||The Orbiter||1998||2004||A Schwarzkopf Apollo ride owned by the Bembom Brothers and leased to Lightwater Valley. Chair swing variant. First opened with the name 'Heatwave'.||The Octopus|
|10||Beaver Rapids||2000||2002||A Reverchon two drop Log Flume ride.||Grizzly Bear|
|11||The Caterpillar Coaster||2003||2013||A D.P.V. Rides Big Apple/Wacky Worm coaster located on the former Batflyer site and re-themed/relocated to the former Vintage Cars site next to Hungry Harbour in 2014.||The Little Dipper|
|12||Grizzly Bear||2004||2008||A Pinfari Zyklon-type Roller Coaster.||Wild River Rapids (until 2014)
Vintage Car Rally (2015 onwards)
|13||The Octopus||2005||2006||A Soriani & Moser Polyp ride owned by John Armitage and leased to Lightwater Valley for two seasons.||Skyrider (2006) and Flying Camels (2007)|
|14||Hornets Nest||2007||2009||A 1998 Chance Chaos purchased from Pleasureland Southport. Scrapped.||Whirlwind|
|15||Whirlwind||2010||2011||A Mondial Top Scan (leased for one season from Alex Crow)||Eagles Creek Farm|
|16||Whirlwind||2011||2015||A Mondial Top Scan. Sold to UK based showman Joe William Whitelegg.||Apollo|
|17||Lightwater Wheel||2008||2016||A Technical Park 82-ft observation wheel. Sold to Alex Crow.||Flying Nellies (on loan from Alex Crow)|
|18||Buffalo Express||2003||2016||Mini Train Ride||Interactive Playground|
|19||Flying Camels||2007||2016||Aerial carousel ride featuring camels purchased from Pleasureland Southport. Sold to Alex Crow.||Mini Sand Diggers|
|20||Black Widow's Web||2001||2017||A Huss Enterprise (on loan from John Armitage).||'Thunderdome' Waltzer (on loan from John Armitage)|
|21||Skate Karts||1990||2018||A skateboard attraction where riders raced down a banked concrete track on "Skate Karts"|
|22||Twister||2001||2019||A Reverchon spinning wild mouse coaster. Sold to UK based showman Emerson Edwards.||Dodgems (on loan from John Armitage)|
|23||Spinning Teacups||2019||Spinning tea cups|
|24||Mini Ferris Wheel||2019||Mini ferris wheel|
|25||Raptor Attack||2010||2020||A Schwarzkopf Wildcat roller coaster. First operated as the Sewer Rat from 1987 to 2009 prior to retheme. Sold to Cotaland (Austin, Texas, USA)|
|26||Apollo||2016||2020||An AK Rides star flyer on loan from Alex Crow|
|27||Wild River Rapids||2009||2020||A Reverchon river rapids ride. Sold back to Mellors Group.|
|28||Black Pearl||2011||2020||A Weber Traum Boot|
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- "The Longest Roller Coasters in the World". TravelVivi.com. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- RideRater (17 June 2021). "Lightwater Valley sold to Brighton Pier Group | RideRater". Retrieved 17 June 2021.
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- Official webpage shown here.
- "Student dies after fairground crash". BBC News. 21 June 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
- "Worker cleared over ride death". BBC News. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
- "'Worker error' before ride death". BBC News. 5 October 2004. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
- "Theme park guilty over ride death". BBC News. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
- "Firm guilty over park ride death". BBC News. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
- "Boy, 6, 'falls from rollercoaster'". BBC News. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
- "Lightwater Valley fined £350k over boy's rollercoaster fall". BBC News. 4 December 2020.
- "Lightwater Valley makes eco-friendly energy savings". Heritage GB. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- "Raptor Attack (Lightwater Valley)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
- "Soopa Loopa (Lightwater Valley)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 19 November 2010. Relocated to The American Adventure Theme Park as "Twin Looper" From 1995 To 2006.
- "Viper (Lightwater Valley)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
- "Batflyer (Lightwater Valley)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 19 November 2010.