The new multimillion-pound Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park in Rotherham opened its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday 11 July.
Yorkshire fundraising stars, nine-year-old Captain Tobias Weller and eight-year-old Lennie Street, both students at Paces – a leading specialist centre for children with Cerebral Palsy and other motor disorders – officially opened the park, which becomes the fourth site in the Gulliver’s Theme Park Resorts family.
The park was forced to postpone its planned opening earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A number of additional safety measures have since been made to the park in response to the pandemic, including temperature checks on arrival, mandatory advanced booking, contactless entry, social distancing measures and a food pre-ordering system.
All guests under the age of three will be required to wear face coverings on rides and the park will also be operating on a limited capacity, with pre-booked slots only, to adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines.
Julie Dalton, managing director of the family-run Gulliver’s Theme Park Resorts, said: “It is so exciting to finally be open and welcoming families into the park.
“We have worked so hard to bring our vision of Gulliver’s Valley to life and to create a truly magical experience for our guests. The pandemic has thrown challenges our way that we didn’t imagine we’d ever have to deal with, but I am so proud of our team for carrying on to make this park a reality.
“Of course, the health and wellbeing of our visitors and our employees is absolutely paramount and so we have put in place lots of changes to the park to reflect this and make sure everyone feels comfortable and reassured.”
Aimed at children between the ages of two and 13-years-old, the new Gulliver’s Valley houses more than 30 rides and attractions, including an Apache Falls ride, full-size diggers, the Ghostly Galleon pirate ship and a Lost Jurassic World area.
Accommodation options are also available, including Unicorn and Princess Suites alongside Western Cabins and Lost World Lodges, with sleepover adventures on offer.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and social distancing requirements, the park owners are awaiting further government guidance for when they can safely open additional indoor attractions.
The Leader of Rotherham Council, Councillor Chris Read, said: “The site at Pit House West for too long stood vacant, so it is brilliant to see the fabulous Gulliver’s Valley project realised in bricks and mortar, jobs and opportunities. It is an exciting development which will attract many thousands of visitors to our borough and is an exemplar of the kind of business that we would want our area to be known for.
“The park will also be a catalyst for economic growth and I particularly welcome Julie Dalton’s commitment to use local suppliers and staff. It’s a great example of the kind of local economic project, maximising social value for our area, that we want to see more of.
“A number of local suppliers have been used by Gulliver’s to help transform the former pit site and more than 1000 Yorkshire trees have been planted there. Of course, this is only the first stage of the long-term plan to build an attraction of truly national significance.
“Local families, and those from further afield, will be able to visit a first-class attraction and we can’t wait to see the first visitors take in the new surroundings and have some fun.”
Sheffield City Region provided £1.5m of funding towards the Gulliver’s Valley project.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “I’m pleased to have been able to support Gulliver’s Valley through the Coronavirus pandemic and to see that they will be opening their doors to visitors this month.
“Gulliver’s Valley will bring more jobs and boost our regional economy and will also become an important part of Rotherham and South Yorkshire’s tourist offer. I encourage residents from our region, and those from further afield to pay a visit, whilst of course ensuring they follow social distancing guidelines.”
The Gulliver’s story began back in 1978, when Ray and Hilary Phillips created a model village on the hillside of Matlock Bath for young children to enjoy and, in turn, unwittingly went on to create some of the UK’s most successful theme park resorts.
The company remains in the same family to this day with Julie Dalton, Ray and Hilary’s daughter, now managing director of Gulliver’s and her brother Nick, development director, who is also heavily involved in the day to day running of the business.
Tickets must be purchased in advance, walk ins will not be granted entry to the park.