Park opens for February Half Term

GreenWood Forest Park, North Wales’s leading family adventure park, is opening as usual for February Half Term from 14th – 22nd February. Set in 17 magical acres, you will discover bags of woodland adventure and awesome attractions.

Although the Green Dragon Roller Coaster is still hibernating until they open for the main season, there’s endless forest fun and indoor play to really make it a half term break to remember. Zoom down 70m Great Green Run, have a go at Den Building and explore TreeTop Towers. Steer a Jungle Boat through the wooded wilderness and reach for the sky on the super bouncy Giant Jumper.

For those rainy days, head inside the Enchanted Wood Barn- full of the latest indoor play. Young explorers will love it! And whilst the children play, parents can enjoy the GreenOak Café, which serves a wide variety of tasty hot meals and snacks. Take a seat next to the cosy log burner and enjoy a coffee.

For times and dates of all the February Half Term events visit the What’s On Calendar.

Boat Naming Ceremony

Boatnamingceremony

GreenWood owners Stephen and Andrea Bristow were special guests at a boat naming ceremony on Saturday 27th December. The boat belonging to the Porthmadog rowing club has been sponsored by a consortium of which GreenWood is a member – The Attractions of Snowdonia.

New Tourist Signs on the A55

GreenWood Forest Park, North Wales leading family attraction has finally been given the green light to have some brown tourist signs on the A55.

GreenWood Forest Park opened over 21 years ago as an educational centre. Since that time it has developed into a popular family tourist attraction welcoming many thousands of visitors each year. Assisting people with finding the attraction became extremely important to the business, yet it proved to be impossible to get proper signage.

Back when the business opened Managing Director Stephen Bristow applied to have brown tourist signs on the main route into North Wales the A55. This request was denied and he was told of the Guidance for Brown Tourism Signage which stated that an attraction had to have over 500,000 visitors a year in order to get such signs on this road.

As Stephen explains These rules were developed in England where theme parks can attract several million visitors a year.  No attraction in North Wales can expect to attract that many visitors as we do not have the urban populations to support such numbers, but the Welsh Government was unwilling to develop rules that were appropriate for Wales.

As the years went on Stephen continued to drum up support to change these guidance rules, working through the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions (of which he is the Chair) and enlisting the help of local AM Alun Ffred Jones.

Finally, and long overdue, the guidance was changed at the beginning of 2014. Stephen once again applied for the signs and this time he was successful. The guidance on brown tourist signs has now changed to allow attractions to have a sign on a motorway if they have over 90,000 visitors and on a dual carriage way if they have over 50,000 visitors.  These new regulations are enabling many more attractions to obtain proper signage to enable visitors to find them from the main trunk routes into Wales.

The GreenWood signs are currently being put in place and will be ready for the 2015 season.

Behind the Scenes at GreenWood Forest Park

Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at GreenWood? Take a read of the article below from our Operations Manger Steve Williams about a typical summers day at the Park.

I arrive at the park before 8am. The few hours in the morning before visitors arrive are invaluable, with lots to do before we’re ready for families to come and have a fun day out. Fun is a serious business and we have to inspect the whole site and all of our rides before we open at 10am.

The golden rule is to expect the unexpected, which over the years has included sheep in the Den Building area and cows from a neighbouring farm in the middle of Crocodile Maze (which doesn’t, luckily for the cows, have real crocodiles – although you’d be surprised how many times we get asked!).

We get over 130,000 visitors to the park each year. Our prime market is children from 18 months to 13 years, but people come from far and wide and for different reasons. One of the most extreme was a German rollercoaster enthusiast who came to see our ‘people powered’ rollercoaster. He was delighted to have a personal tour of the ride, before he hopped back on a train to Manchester en route back to Germany. And I’ve just had an email from some else who’s writing a book about roller coasters, and he’s coming, too.

Our coaster uses the funicular technology they used in the quarries: as a full load of slate or granite went down the hill, it would pull an empty car back up. In our case, people get into a lift which, as it descends, generates the power to get the coaster back up to its start point. Some people groan when they realise they’ve got to walk back up the hill to actually get into the coaster, but in fact most visitors love its ingenuity.

Most of our attractions are zero or low-energy. For instance, it would have been very easy to get motorised go-karts, but that’s not what we’re about, so our MoonKarts are pedal-powered. We want people to use their own energy to have fun.

Then there are sensory experiences like the Barefoot Trail, the first of its kind in Wales, where you walk barefoot through different terrains including sand, bark, straw, timber and water. It sounds odd, but people really like it, especially the kids. Designing it was a funny experience, too – a group of us had to put our feet into bags of different types of pebbles and stones to confirm which felt the best.

The days at GreenWood can include challenges of all kinds. Most children love Harley the giant rabbit [a costumed character] but some are afraid of him, so we have to subtly divert him away if there’s any sign of a wobbly lip!

We receive all sorts of odd requests from visitors at the park. Last week a headmaster of a school asked if two of his teachers could dress up in costume and surprise the children on one of the rides. As long as safety is not compromised we try and accommodate.

I remember one time being a little thrown by the request from the guardian of a blind boy who wanted to have a go at the longbow archery. Thankfully it was a quiet day, we were able to allow the boy to come and feel the target and then took him for his instruction with the ranger. The huge smile on his face when he heard his arrow hitting the target was priceless. That was a special moment.

GreenWood Forest Park awarded with Investors in People Accolade

The multi award winning attraction GreenWood Forest Park in Y Felinheli has recently been accredited with the Investors in People Award.

The Investors in People award is a recognition that an organisation looks to improve performance and realise objectives through the management and development of its people. Their website states that it is a benchmark for best practice and it recognises a business’s commitment to developing people and shows their ambition, drive and focus to the rest of the world.

The attraction which opened 21 years ago has expanded greatly over the years and now employs around 15 core staff as well as over 100 seasonal staff. The evaluation process included an external assessor interviewing a representative sample from each department of the GreenWood team and asking them about their roles, how they feel they are valued by the business and how they feel they contribute to the overall business objectives.

Stephen Bristow, GreenWood’s Managing Director had this to say about the award “Our staff are our greatest asset, and this award recognises that we value and appreciate the fantastic work that they do at GreenWood.  The business could not have grown to where it is today without a dedicated and enthusiastic team, and we are very grateful for everything they have done, and continue to do.”

Marketing and Events Director Andrea Bristow added “‘It was good to have an outside person looking at our organisation and although we already follow a lot of the good practises which were suggested it is very useful to see where we can improve I enjoyed the process.

GreenWood will now be able to display the Investors in People Symbol on its literature and display a plaque at its entrance to sit alongside the other awards it has accumulated over the years starting with the Prince of Wales Award in 1993 and most recently being Named 9th Best Amusement Park in the UK in the Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice awards for 2014.

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GreenWood Forest Park named ninth best rated amusement Park in the UK

WELSH ECO-FRIENDLY AMUSEMENT PARK NAMED ONE OF UK’S TOP TEN BEST RATED IN TRIPADVISOR TRAVELLERS’ CHOICE ATTRACTIONS AWARDS

GreenWood Forest Park in Y Felinheli has today been named among the top ten best rated amusement parks in the UK in the Travellers’ Choice TM awards for Amusement Parks and Water Parks, announced by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site.

The park, which boasts the world’s only people powered roller coaster, was also named the best value amusement park for a family trip this summer among the ten Travellers’ Choice TM winners in the UK.

“Whether you’re a thrill seeker looking for a buzz this summer or a parent planning a family day out during the school holidays, this list of winners should provide plenty of inspiration,” commented TripAdvisor spokesperson, James Kay.

“The fact that GreenWood Forest Park has won an award for the first time proves that overall value often trumps bigger rides in the eyes of consumers,” James continued.

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this award. Our aim is to provide great value family fun, coupled with excellent customer care. As we are continually working to improve our visitor experience, customer feedback is always appreciated,” commented Mark Rowlands, Visitor Services Manager at GreenWood Forest Park.

“This award is great testimony to the very hard work and great efforts of the GreenWood Team as a whole.” Mark continued.

Andrea Bristow, one of GreenWood Forest Park’s owners added “ We are so excited to get this award. Thank you to everybody who made such lovely comments on Trip Advisor, it gives the whole GreenWood team a boost to get recognised in this way. Wow, ninth best in the UK and the only one in Wales!”

To see the full list of awards visit www.tripadvisor.co.uk/TravelersChoice-Attractions

GreenWood Artist Retires

An employee at GreenWood Forest Park, Y Felinheli is due to retire this August after 9 years of working for the award winning attraction. Dafydd Lloyd Jones from Bethesda has created a lot of the artwork and signs that you see at the attraction using his artistic skills to create some great pieces on the Park.

From creating photo boards to just toilet signs Dafydd has been able to keep the unique feel of the Park in his artwork. His latest project is a large painting of a scene from the Mabinogion the story of the Prince of Dyfed. One of Dafydd’s favourite pieces was the work he did for the Green Dragon Roller-coaster, when he created the height signs for the ride.

When he retires Dafydd will carry on with his art and currently a few of his pieces are displayed at the Deinol centre in Bangor. He hopes to carry on creating some unique pieces including photo boards to sell to other tourism businesses.

Dafydd commented about his time working at GreenWood “I can honestly say it’s the best place I have ever worked. Before working at GreenWood I worked in engineering, GreenWood is a completely different atmosphere. I really enjoy working in the nice environment and the people who I work with are great- it’s like one big family. I’m looking forward to relaxing for a while when I retire, we have a holiday booked and I’m hoping to do a bit more travelling.”

 

The owners of the Park Stephen and Andrea Bristow recall his time on the Park, Andrea commented “I remember when I first met Dafydd and he told me he had worked with the wood craft folk.I thought here is a man who likes nature and who likes children-that’s the man for GreenWood. After many loyal years we wish Dafydd a lovely retirement, but hope he will come back every now and again to see us- may be even to do some more art work- you never know…” Stephen Bristow added“Dafydd has been a tremendous asset to GreenWood – his marvellous artworks, his stories and his great sense of humour have been much appreciated by staff and visitors alike, and his cheerful smile and helpful attitude have made him a great work colleague.  We wish him a very happy retirement with his wife Kathryn and daughter Heulwen, and we look forward to seeing him again when he comes to visit his old friends at the Park.”

Dafydd Lloyd Jones

Photography Exhibition in the Great Hall

GreenWood Forest Park will be the new home to a series of photographs called “Windows on Snowdonia” this summer.

The exhibition is the work of local photographer Steve Crocker. Steve has worked as a professional photographer since 1988 and his most recent collection of photographs come from the area where he now lives – Snowdonia.

The photographer tells us about his latest work “Windows On Snowdonia” is a collection of photographs drawn from a much wider portfolio taken over the past 10 years that captures the stunning beauty of this region in North Wales. The images selected represent the amazing
range of the landscape from the mountains, lakes, rivers, ancient woodland, through valleys and even onto the varied coastline to the west of the region, throughout the year and in the dramatic and often rapidly changing light.

He continues “I am very lucky to live in a stunning location; our cottage overlooks the Nantlle
valley, facing south towards the Nantlle ridge and specifically Mynedd Craig Goch. It is that amazing view from our cottage, captured during the winter and shown above that was the inspiration for this collection. The thinking behind the frames initially came from this idea of our very own window on Snowdonia. They were inspired by the chunky wooden window sills I installed in the kitchen some years ago and I wanted an alternative to large white borders and perfectly machine made frames more often seen in photographic exhibitions. Each frame is hand crafted, unique and they have evolved now to include the curved, more organic shapes with a visual weight that further compliments the rugged and vast beauty of the landscape. My aim was to have a frame that is as much a part of the image rather than just a convenient way to display the photographs on the wall.”

The photographs are now on display in the Great Hall and will remain their throughout July and August. For more information about Steve Crocker see his website www.stevecrocker.co.uk

Windows on Snowdonia 2    Windows on Snowdonia

10 years of passenger power on the Green Dragon Roller Coaster

This June will see the 10th anniversary of the Green Dragon, North Wales’s leading family adventure park’s unique rollercoaster.

Built in early 2004 the Green Dragon is the only rollercoaster of its kind in the world. The ride combines traditional roller coasters with funicular technology that was developed and used 200 years ago in the slate quarries of North Wales.

Stephen Bristow, GreenWood Forest Park’s Managing Director explains how the design works; “Once it starts, the ride itself is gravity driven but it is at the very beginning where we turn people power into the energy we need. This energy is used to pull the coaster cars up to the starting point. Pulling the cars to the top of the ride is where the old slate quarry technology comes in.

 

Mr Bristow continues: “Having walked up the coaster hill, visitors enter a people carrier and travel down an incline. This descent, through the use of the slate quarry technology, pulls the cars up to the station. Passengers then leave the carrier and walk up the hill a second time to the station where they enter the cars for the ride itself. This reaches a top speed of 25mph and covers a distance of 250 metres. At the end of the ride, the cars stop on a moveable platform at the bottom of the hill where the passengers alight before the cars are pulled back up to the station by the next group of visitors.”

 

 

Green Dragon Roller Coaster

Since the building of the roller-coaster the park has continued to expand and develop over the ten years, introducing innovative children’s play whilst always keeping their carbon footprint low.

Since building the coaster, visitor numbers have risen from 94,000 in 2003 to 135,000 in 2013. Over 1 million visitors have ridden the Green Dragon in that time.

Co-owner Andrea Bristow had this to say about the upcoming Birthday “For many children this was the first rollercoaster they had ever been on, but for everyone it was the only people powered rollercoaster they had been on as it’s the only one in the world.”

 

From GreenWood to LEGOLAND

A former employee of GreenWood Forest Park, Y Felinheli has moved from one family attraction Park to another. Local teenager Elliot Duggan-Edwards of Bethel, worked at GreenWood Forest Park as a Park Ranger but now has landed himself a job in LEGOLAND in Windsor, London.

Elliot, 18 worked a GreenWood Forest Park along with his two sisters Molly and Georgia who are still employed at GreenWood for 3 summer seasons.

After leaving collage, Elliot who has a keen interest in theme parks applied for many jobs in different attractions around the UK. He was lucky enough to get a full time position as a ride operator in LEGOLAND where he started in March this year.

Elliot has settled in well in his new job, saying “Working in Legoland is great fun, on your toes all day and just never seem to get bored! I have settled in really well and making loads of great friends! Looking forward to visiting GreenWood over the summer.

GreenWood Forest Park’s Operation Manger Steve Williams had this to say about Elliot’s new position We were delighted to hear about Elliotts new role and that all his hard work at GreenWood has paid off. Elliott has been a great example of the many young people that join us, take responsibility from a young age and flourish. It is a good feeling that GreenWood has helped them along the way. We wish Elliott all the best in his new job.