We love roller coasters and we love crisps, so where better for a day trip than Tayto Park in Co Meath?
My only complaint after a recent visit was that a single day just wasn’t long enough to do everything the fantastic park has to offer.
With children aged from five to 12, we had to try and squeeze in lots of different things to keep everyone happy, though I admit that I have had worse things to complain about.
We arrived early, and that has to be my top tip for anyone planning a visit because the park got much busier after lunchtime.
In the morning there were virtually no queues, but by early afternoon the more popular attractions were much busier.
There is a handy screen near the entrance showing waiting times for the rides so you can avoid the occasional big queue.
The only queue of longer than 20 minutes was for the Viking Voyage ride, but it was well worth a visit, even just to marvel at the attention to detail and skilful design of the man-made mountain as you splash your way up, down and through it.
At its exit there is a 5D cinema where you are shaken and sprayed while being taken through a dinosaur adventure.
My highlight of the day was the big wooden roller coaster Cu Chulainn, which is the first thing you see when you drive into the car park since it towers over everything.
You start by being slowly winched up a huge incline before a 31-metre drop pins you back into your seat with amazing acceleration.
You then keep up that phenomenal pace as you zip through tunnels and curves with your cheeks pulled back to your ears, which are filled with the screams of everyone around you.
The roller coaster-fest did not stop there, with a few more slightly tamer efforts dotted around the park.
Honourable mentions go to two of our favourites — Flight School, where you pass through airport security before getting into your plane, and Dino Dash, which involves a walk through a Jurassic Park-style adventure before you even get to the ride.
We didn’t want adrenaline all day, so for a break we took a walk through the zoo, which has a farmyard section where you can get into the enclosure and close to the animals.
There were lots of big cats, including a rare Amur leopard. Unlike the goats and sheep, I would not suggest trying to pet it.
One thing we did not make it to because it filled up fast was the bird of prey exhibition, which is definitely on the list for my next visit.
We also spent a while in the junior zone to get some fun for the little one. Again, there was so much to do including a train ride which doubled as a mini-tour of the area and yet another roller coaster, this time a spinning one called Ladybird Loop.
There were lots of the sort of theme park attractions you expect for younger children — things that bounce, things that swing and of course the obligatory carousel with brightly coloured horses bobbing up and down, which brought back memories of many days out to Barry’s in Portrush.
Not only was there all the fun of the many different rides, a large playground area and the zoo, but there was a circus show thrown in for good measure.
The small but skilful troupe of four performers was a delight from start to finish.
We were treated to a contortionist bending in every conceivable direction and then some nervy knife throwing.
Next came an amazing aerial acrobatics display and a sensational strongman show with some truly impressive feats of strength and scantily clad assistants.
The show was woven together with some light-hearted comedy routines and plate spinning from the compere.
It was a surprisingly great piece of fun that we were all still talking about well after it was over.
Dotted around the area were places to eat and drink, although we kept the eating to a minimum because with so much getting spun around and whooshed about at great speed, I feared we could be wearing our recently consumed items.
Mr Tayto can be seen in lots of locations around the park in various guises and sizes.
There were also a few gift shops and photo booths at the various rides, so you can buy a photo of your contorted and screaming face should you so wish.
I mentioned earlier our love of crisps, and in particular Irish Tayto crisps — they just taste better than the ones we get in Northern Ireland — so the free packet on the way out was a nice touch as well.
The overall attention to detail of each experience made the visit really memorable, and the variety of activities and attractions made it a great day of family fun.
There really is something for everyone at the park — it really exceeded my expectations.
We’ll definitely need two days the next time we visit though.
Tickets: Tickets are available on the day but pre-booking online even 24 hours before your visit does off significant savings. A pre-booked all access ticket for the day is €37 and a pre-booked junior ticket is €33. There is also an annual membership option for €100. Visit taytopark.ie.
Getting There: From Belfast, the park is approximately 90 miles away and the car journey takes a little over 90 minutes. From Dublin, Bus Eireann operates daily services from the city centre to the park. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes.