Sundown Adventureland (Nottinghamshire)
Sundown adventure land is quite a unique attraction. It is a children's theme park aimed at children under ten years of age. It is a place that has been going for some years. I have fond memories of visiting myself as a small child, so it is only natural to want my own children to visit the place. While in some ways it is the same place ... I remember, every time we visit there also appears to be something new to appeal to the more modern child.
The theme park is located in the village of Rampton, near Retford, in Nottinghamshire. It is quite well sign posted off the A1 so we have never felt the need to use anything other than brown tourist signs to get there, though the post code for anyone wanting to use sat nav, is DN22 0HX.
The best way to visit this site in my opinion is to plan your visit in advance. Tickets can be pre-booked online. We went on bank holiday Monday for my sons birthday, and a few minutes of buying tickets online meant we could save about half an hour of queueing time to get into the attraction by joining the special queue which had one family in front of us. Anyone with small kids will know how they hate being made to stand still when something mega fun is just meters away the other side of the ticket booth. www.sundownadventureland.co.uk is fab for planning your visit as you can see a map of the site, see photos of others enjoying the attractions, and find all the details you need such as prices and site opening times.
Arriving at the site, there is a huge free car park. We arrived at about 10:20 am when the site had opened at ten, and there were staff directing people where to park, and then another couple of staff helping the customers through the best way to queue to get in. Entry is free for under twos - for adulys and children, there is a charge of £11.95 per head. This is not cheap - our family of four paid £47.80, but I think for a whole day out with what you can do on site, it is worth it. It's not something you would do every week, so we were happy to pay.
Knowing how busy the site is, one of the first things that we did was try to get on some of the rides that you have to queue for before the wait time got too silly. Favourite ride of the day was the Boozy Barrel ride, which involves you sitting in a little barrel shaped boat going along a lazy river with a pirate theme. Prepare to get wet along the way. This was my eldest sons favourite ride of the day and we did queue a second time for this one.
Other rides are the Robin Hood themed ride which takes you past Robin Hood's merry men, a wild west train ride going past bandits, and a tractor themed ride where you pretend to drive the tractor along a track past farm animals.
The areas that I have always liked best feature small miniature houses that children can explore. Adults can fit in at a push, but it is not very comfy, and kids love to run around exploring these areas. The first one of thes is the Smugglers Cove. Here there are little shops and school houses arranged in a square. It can be a parents worst nightmare as the children can crawl around betweeen these houses, and you don't see them again till they pop up somewhere else. We were quite relaxed with this as we set the boundaries of how far they could go, but other parents were worried to death by losing site of their kids. Highlights here were a house with a slide to the outside, and a life boat that children can pretend to steer.
Other areas featuring mini-houses are: the very traditional storybook village - my favourite here is the house belonging to the seven dwarves with little beds and a dining table complete with dinner set for 7. I also quite like the witches house from Hansel and Grettle, and the cottage Jack and the Beanstalk lives in. Secondly, Toy Town. Here you can go inside the post office, or the fire house, or the dentists, or the butchers shop, or the garage. Some of the houses here are much better than others for the younger visitor. The fire station features a model engine children can sit in and pretend to ride. The garage has a car you can jack up to fix. The dentists shop was a little factual with questions on the wall to get you thinking like what foods are good for your teeth.
Another favourite of my childrens was the Shotgun City. Here there is a whole street of wild west themed shops. We liked going inside these buildings like the jail, sticking our heads through wanted posters, shooting up the groceries in the general store, and best of all, seeing how much the children were shocked by the dynamite blasting to rob the bank.
We also enjoyed our time in the fairytale inspired Lollipoppet castle. Here we could explore the sweetie themed castle and learn all about the tooth fairy, and see large giant vegetables growing. Personally I found this area a little hard going as it was very heavily scented of mint based sweets, and it was a crowded venue on a hot day, so we didn't stay overly long.
While we did explore all the little houses, my children were a lot more impressed by all the play parks that were there. Although repeating an idea, albeit with a different theme, they were happy to move between the different parks to see what they could find. Each area of the site does provide plenty of benches for parents to take a rest, so we were happy to let our children play where they wanted for as long as they wanted. The only negative, the day we visited was really boiling hot, and there was not much shade to be found in the play parks, and it did get a little bit too much in the hottest part of the day.
New this year is the Angry Birds themed park. All of the play equipment, even down to the benches for parents, had images of pig et al emblazoned on them. There is a lot of play equipment to climb and swing on in this area, and we went here a few times. Although new, the flooring was a bit uneven in places as though it has been water damaged or something, and parents beware here of the kiosk selling angry birds memorabilia.
We also really enjoyed a wild west themed play area, that featured lots of wooden play equipment within a walled fortress. There was an upper area to run around the outskirts of the park, and then plenty to play on, like a zip wire, and slides. We would have spent longer here if it hadn't been such a sun trap. There is also an excellent sand pit area, featuring a nautical theme where children of any age can have a lot of fun. It might be an idea to take your own bucket and spade for here. For parents of under 5s, there is a special play park for them near the entrance, with nice swings shaped like gorillas for even the youngest of kids to be able to sit in comfortably.
Another new feature since our last visit about 3 years ago is a huge indoor play area. It is one of the biggest I have ever seen and we have frequented a few over the years. Even on such a hot day, we did go in here to escape the searing heat for a little while during the hottest part of the day. My kids would have stayed here a lot longer as it was hugely enjoyable for them, but we kind of felt it wasn't really what we had gone there for, though on a wet day, I can imagine we would wlecome it. It is a great addition to the smaller indoor play area in the Shotgun City cafe.
There are large and clean toilet blocks located at a few strategic points through the park, such as near the entrance and within the two cafes. These can get a bit busy, but were always well stocked. The site is not that big that you ever felt too far from the nearest one.
There are also cafes and kiosks throughout the park, though not all are open all year, only in high season. We made full use of the cafe near the entrance to buy an ice cream, though we took our own packed lunch to eat. however, prices are quite reasonable - you are looking at less than £3 for a meal like burger and chips. We have eaten at the cafe on a previous visit and found that it was tasty enough, just very busy and hard to find seats to sit at within the cafes. However, there are plenty of benches and grassy areas to sit at to have a picnic if you wish.
Previously we have made a special effort to visit the site in the run up to Christmas when they have a special Santas Sleigh Ride and a chance for seeing Santa or the White Snow Queen. It can be quite good fun to go at this time of year as there are lots of decorations up everywhere, and carols playing, though it is the sort of site that can be bitter cold at this time of year.
I still find this quite a magical site for kids. Ours loved the freedom when we could let them explore all these special little houses. I think the attention to detail is amazing. On a nice day, it can get really busy, but we never had to wait too long to get on anything other than the rides. I find the staff to be really helpful, and I was super impressed by the low prices within the cafes and kiosks. Most places choose to make these really high to make their money, but here it was very affordable. I love how every time we go back there is something new to see, keeping it feeling fresh, but still retaining some of that magic that has kept it going for so many years. I also think there is a good mix of themes throughout the park to appeal to both boys and girls. My kids were not tempted by the cinderalla pumpkin carriage or the yellow brick road from Wizard of Oz, but they loved the Angry Birds park, and the pirates and cowboys.
It might seem pricey, but we were on the go for a whole 6 hours while we were there, and our children absolutely loved it. I think it says something when the kids ask if they can go back again within days of their last visit.
This is a great day out while your kids are young enough to be awed by it. Ten is definitely a good upper limit, and we wouldn't take our kids there past this age limit.
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Chessington World of Adventures
Ok I realise this is long, but I hope it will help someone planning a trip to chessington, don't feel obliged to read it <3 We are lucky enough to have Merlin passes and so enjoy Chessington World of adventures on a regular basis. I know planning a day out can be hard work, especially when you have to think of children. It ... costs a lot of money and you want to make sure you are choosing the right place and that it will have all the facilities you need and want.
I thought it would try and write a review to help you decide if Chessington is a good choice for you and how to make the most of your day if you do go there.
What is Chessington World of Adventures ? - Well it is a unique mix of theme park and zoo, there are so many rides and attractions I really feel that whatever your age and adrenalin junkie status you will find something for you.
The Theme part of the park is divided into 9 'lands', each land has it's own theme and is decorated as such. There is also the Zoo and Sealife centre. I will go through each section of the park in a little more detail at the end. But wanted to do the facilities and my top tips first.
First my top ten tips.
1) Get there early, the park opens half an hour before the advertised time, there are a few rides that start early too, usually vampire and Dragons fury but check when you get to the gate. Even if the ride you want is not open go to the queue line so you will be first on. The big rides queue times go from 0 -60 mins in seconds.
2) If you are thinking of buying the rides photos, don't buy them as soon as you get off the ride, take the number at get them at the end. You get a better deal for buying more than one and also it will save you from carrying them around.
3) Don't miss Lorikeet lagoon - it is hidden and easily missed but it is one of the best bits of the park.
4) When you get there get a map with the show times, so you don't miss a thing or if you are not into the shows you can plan to go to a 'big' ride at that time as the queues will be shorter.
5) The ride close time is when the queue line closes not when the ride closes so get there a few minutes before the close time and you can still ride.
6) Get your parking ticket when you arrive, the queues are huge at the end of the day.
7) Don't pay gate price for tickets. There are always buy one get one free deals, money off vouchers going around or at the very least book online for a saving.
8) If it rains keep your ticket - if it rains continuously for more than an hour whilst you are there, they will give you free entry another day.
9) Measure your child either before you go or as soon as you get there so you can plan what rides you can go on and ignore any unsuitable rides.
10) If Driving leave a bit early or a bit late otherwise you will just be sat in the car park waiting in a huge queue to leave.
Right facilities are fabulous in Chessington -
Toilets - Throughout the park you will find plenty of toilets and baby changing areas, they are all in pretty good shape and looked after with the exception of the ones by the log ride, these are always pretty disgusting so avoid if you can.
First Aid - There is a main first aid centre in forbidden kingdom, but there are plenty of mobile first aiders, if you need one just ask any member of staff and they will radio for one. I have seen first hand how quick and capable they are.
Drinks - There are loads of places selling tea and coffee and it is not overly priced for this sort of venue around the £2 mark. If fizzy drinks are your thing I really recommend buying an unlimited cup, it costs £6 for the day and you can fill it up as much as you want for the whole day and keep the cup at the end. Make sure you keep the reciept as you will need it. If you have an annual pass there is a similar cup for £16 which lasts the whole year.
Eating there - They no longer have a burger king or any branded food outlets, however there really is an abundance of eateries and you will not go hungry. There is a noodle bar, fish and chips, Pizza buffet, sandwich bar, general cafe selling jacket potatoes etc, Burger palace, mexican, a fried chicken place and main restaurant selling chicken, burgers, lasagne etc. There are also many 'stalls'selling popcorn, sweets, waffles, ice cream and donuts. I have not eaten in all of them but I have tried a few, the vampire burger kitchen, this is basically a glorified Mcdonalds for the four of us, three adult meals and one childs it cost in the region of £20. It was OK, nothing special and quite small portions. The sandwhich bar is nice but quite expensive for a sandwich. Our favourite place is the pizza bar, it is a help yourself, eat as much as you want salad, pizza and pasta and endless fizzy drinks. It is £9.99 for adults (over 11) and £5.99 for children. You get 20% if you have an annual pass.
Picnics- There are plenty of places for a picnic throughout the park, so if you want to save some money, don't really like eating out or have fussy eaters you will not find it difficult to find a spot to pitch up and enjoy your lunch. If we drive we leave the picnic in a cool bag in the car and pop out to get it when we are ready. If you don't have passes they will stamp your hand. There are lockers if you don't want to carry it around the park. For a small locker the prices are, £1 for up to 1 hour or £5 for the whole day.
Big lockers are £2 for up to 1 hour or £10 for the whole day. You can go back as many times as you want during the day. We sometimes use these when we take the train.
Guest services- Here is where you would go for lost children, wristbands with your details on, buggy hire etc. Also if you have a disabled or person with certain special needs in your group, make sure you go to guest services where they will give you a wrist band which will allow you to enter rides without queuing. I haven't used this facility so am unsure of the full details.
Fast track - you can pay for a fast track pass which will allow you to get on certain rides without queuing, the prices vary but it costs about £5 per person per ride or you can buy a one day unlimited fast track which costs £60 per person.
Seat sizes - This is something that genuinely worries me, I am a size 18 -20 and I have in the past avoided rides through fear of me not fitting in the restraints. I have been on every ride at chessington and can safely say I fit with ease even the kiddie rides, I have seen much much bigger people on the rides too. The guideline for most rides is that they will fit people with a torso under 51".
The zoo -
Like the park the zoo is split into sections, it is all very close by with the exception of the Wanyama Village & Reserve this is based next to the Zufari ride and you can see Zebras, hippos, giraffesand meerkats.
The rest of the zoo is all in one part of the park, it includes
Monkey trail where you will see spider monkeys, Tamirins and marmosets.
Childrens zoo, where you can stroke the goats and pigs.
Trail of the kings- you will all the big guns of the wild, lions, gorillas, tigers and leopards.
Penguins and otters - This is split into two spaces. There is two talks a day at the penguin pool.
Sea lions - Our favourite show there are four sea lions at the zoo, they are beautiful. There are two shows a day the content can vary depending on what sea lion does the show.
Creepy caves - a small walk through cave with all the usual creepy crawlies, spiders, snails, lizards etc.
Sealife centre - lots of underwater fun here there are loads ofgorgeous fish including Rays, jelly fish, star fish and amazing sea horses. There are loads of daily talks and feeding. Which are well worth a look
The lands and rides
Mystic East - This is home to the famous log ride, it is very oriental with lanterns, buddas and dragons decorating the pathways. In this land you will find two rides.
Dragon Falls - Log ride, with two 'drops'. This is one of my family's favourite rides. You don't get sopping wet so it is fine to go on at any time of day. They can fit five to a boat and children have to be 1.2 metres to ride.
Peeking heights - This is a big wheel. Beware they only fill three cages at a time, so a short queue doesn't necessarily mean a short wait. Any height can ride this but children under 1.1 metres need to ride with an adult.
There is also a arcade, digging for gold, a climbing wall and those big zorbing balls on water. All of these are all payable, I know the water balls are £5 for a five minute session. We do not do any of these things as I think it is expensive enough as it is.
Pirates cove - This is not a big land it is more of a gap filler, you will find two rides here.
Seastorm - This is little boats that go around like a merry go round but much faster. It looks like a 'baby' ride but is actually quite fast. Children nee to be 0.9 metres tall.
Black Buccaneer - Oh my life, this ride is stomach turning, it is a traditional 'mary rose' swinging boat, it goes high and fast. Minimum height is 1 metre but under 1.3 need an adult to ride.
Transylvania - This is where you will find two of the parks most famous rides -
Vampire ride - This is where you will fly through the air like a vampire. It is fast but not really scary and I am a bit of a scaredy cat. Minimum height is 1.1 metres, under 1.3 need an adult.
The Bubble works - My favourite ride, You sit in a tub which can seat up to five. Then ride through professor bubble works factory, see the ducks hard at work and play. Eventually end up in the waterfall lagoon, you will get a little bit wet. This is really a family favourite suitable for all and lts of fun- No height restriction but under 1.1 need an adult to ride with them.
Transylvania is where you can have you face painted or hair braided, there is also caricatures. I know a full face paint is £7. You can have eye designs for £5.
Mexicana - This is wild west with cowboy shooting and dusty paths. Home to two rides
The runaway train - this is a wild train that flies through the mountains, really quite fast,so hold on to your hats. This is my second favourite ride. It is good fun without making you feel sick. Minimum height 0.9 metres, so even younger children can enjoy this.
Rattlesnake - This is the scariest ride in Chessington, it is a fully fledged roller coaster with dips, twists and turns. I don't like it one little bit, but my husband and daughter love it. You need to be 1.4 metres to ride so not for little ones.
Wild Asia - This is the biggest of the lands, actually it is not the biggest but it has the most rides and attractions. You will find.
Monkey swingers - This is a great ride, you sit in a swing and fly high and fast around the park. I always feel really dizzy for about ten minutes after. Min height 1.2 metres.
Tuk tuk turmoil - This is traditional bumper cars, always great fun. Minimum height is 0.9 but anyone under 1.3 needs to be with an adult who has to drive.
Jungle bus - This looks like scooby doos magic bus, it is fairly slow and just goes round in a circle, my son says it makes his tummy jump. Ideal for little people. Min height 0.9 metres.
Temple of Mayhem - This is just for little kids, they can gather up lots of little foam balls and shoot them across the 'temple' using the cannons and guns. It is great for a bit of respite from queues and the sun.
Lorikeet Lagoon - DO NOT MISS !! We had been to Chessington about six times before we saw or noticed this attraction, it is amazing. It is hidden behind 'temple of mayhem'. Rainbow lorikeet birds just flying free. You can buy a pot of nectar for £1 and they come and feed of your hands. It is totally amazing and the best pound you will spend all day. You don't need to buy the food, you can walk through without feeding. They say when you buy the food that they may not feed, but we have been about ten times and they have always fed.
Kobra -This is a big snake ride, where you sit in a circle and it spins round really fast like a round about, then it goes up and down. When you look at it you would think it would be terrifying but it is actually not scary just fast, it is not stomach churning.
I will mention the shop here as it has real snakes in it, which are worth a look if you have a spare minute of two.
Land of the Dragons - This is the best land for little children with every thing suitable for very small children except the Dragons fury ride. Here you will find
Dragons play house - a soft play area, great for taking the little ones whilst bigger ones are queuing for the fast rides. Maximum height is 1.4 metres
Canopy Capers - This is a big tree house with slides and rope bridges, again only little children are allowed in and they are strict on this, which is great as they are safe from teens racing through etc. Max height 1.4 metres.
Sea dragons - little boat merry go round, very slow suitable for very small children, although under 1.1 need an adult.
Dragons Fury - This is my eight year old sons favourite ride, it is a roller coaster with so many spins and twists that it makes you feel like you are going to come of the track. Not for the faint hearted. Min height 1.2 metres.
Griffin's Galleon - this is like the Black Buccaneer but not as fast or height. Great for little children minimum height is 0.9 metres.
There is a cafe here which has talks on animals about three times a day, the animals are things like snakes, snails, spiders etc and last about twenty minutes. They are really interesting and worth going to if you are in the area.
This is home to the main stage and Madagasca live. There are meet and greets with most of the characters throughout the day.
Madagasca live - I won't give the story line away but it is a great interactive show with songs, dancing and all the characters from Madagasca, lasts about fifteen minutes and is shown three times a day. There is one at one o'clock and if we bring a picnic we sometimes go and watch it whilst we eat our sarnies.
Toadies cars - A fab little car ride around Mr moles garden. two children can 'drive' at the front and two adults sit as the back as passengers. - No minimum height.
Jungle Bouncers - This is a great little ride for children - they sit in and it jumps up and down. Not really suitable for adults. minimum height 0.9 metres.
Forbidden kingdom -
The Egyptian themed land which is home to my daughters favourite ride - Ramses revenge you will also find.
Tomb blaster - this is a great laser shooting game ride where you go through the tunnels and pyramids to fight the evil mummies. It is good fun and can be quite competitive as it shows you your score, I am the family champion at the moment - whoop whoop !!
The big first aid centre is here too, should you need it.
Zufari - This is the newest land in chessington and home to the brand new safari ride.
Flying Dumbo - The original flying elephants, great fun for all the family, you control how high you go by pushing the button. No minimum.
Zufari - ride into Africa - Well this is really hit and miss and as it is a new ride the queues are extreamly long even at the start of the day. We queued for 75 mins one day and we only saw some giraffes in the distance, but other times we have been we have seen hippos, zebras and flamingos, it obviously depends on if the animals are close or in their huts etc. On a good day it is a brilliant safari ride but on a bad day it is really bad and a waste of time queuing for so long. So I would suggest asking people who have just got off what animals they saw so you can decide.
Market Square -
The central hub of chessington, it has the main shops, resturants, toilets and a few rides
Tiny truckers - A car ride for small children, they don't actually drive but it makes them feel like they are. No height limit.
Carousel -A magical lovely experience for all the family,choose from the traditional horses or a princess carriage, lasts a good five minutes.
Hocus Pocus Hall - you are given 3D glasses as you enter and then take a disorientating walk through this weird house there are mirrors, glow in the dark and spinning walkways - you will be dizzy when you come out.
Safari skyway - I think this is a must, it is a sky tram ride around the park, it goes over the zoo so you will get to see the animals as you go past. There is a commentary as you go round but it is very quiet. -No min height.
Ticket prices - there are plenty of ticket choices from family, student, child etc. Gate prices at present are
Family Saver for 2
1 Adult + 1 Child £60.00
Family Saver for 3
Minimum 1 Adult + 1 Child £90.00
Family Saver for 4
Minimum 1 Adult + 1 Child £120.00
Family Saver for 5
Minimum 1 Adult + 1 Child £150.00
Family Saver for 6
Minimum 1 Adult + 1 Child £180.00
12+ years £43.20
Young Adventurers (Child)
Aged under 12 and taller than 0.9 metres. £31.20
Valid Student ID card required £31.20
Aged 60 years and over £31.20
Includes 1 free helper £43.20
Includes 1 free helper £31.20
Additional Disabled Helpers £21.60
But if you book online at least 7 days in advance you can save 25%. They also accept Tesco Vouchers.
Where is it -
Chessington is situated on the A243, just two miles from the A3 and M25 (junction 9 or 10).
It is about a ten minute walk from Chessington South train station, we often go by train and it is a really straightforward walk. There are also lots of bus stops right outside the gate.
Final words - I would say Chessington world of adventures is aimed at families with young children, as said previously there is something for everyone to do but I think the majority of the rides are aimed at children. My children are 8 and 13 and love it, we go a LOT and they never get bored, sometimes we don't go on any of the rides but spend our time going to all the animal talks and shows and other times we don't see any animals. I would say if your child is under 0.9 then apart from the play area and animals there isn't that much to do for them. Equally if your child is a thrill seeker I think nearby Thorpe park would be a better option. I would say it would take more than a day to enjoy everything Chessington has to offer, but if you are clever and use your time wisely you should get all the main attractions done.
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Gulliver's World (Cheshire)
**Location** Gulliver's World Cheshire is in Warrington, the address for the sat nav is: Gullivers World Warrington WA5 9YZ We used our sat nav to get there from Cheadle, and it took just over 30 minutes, the post code taking us right to the car park. Getting there was very ... easy.
We decided to visit Gulliver's World as they were doing a special offer, all tickets £9, so we decided to give it a try paying £27 for myself, my husband and our 2 year old.
The regular park prices are as follows:
Day ticket (Entrance only)
Adult - £15.95
Child - £15.95
O.A.P - £14.95
Babies (Under 90cm) - Free
Family of four - £55
(So as you can see, the £9 promotion was quite a saving).
You can also go 'fully inclusive', which comprises a day ticket, a voucher for a meal and a drink, a voucher for an ice cream, and with the children's fully inclusive ticket, a £1 retail voucher. The price of a fully inclusive ticket is £22.50.
Finally you can purchase a combo ticket. A combo ticket allows entry into the park and into the splash world swimming attraction next door. Price here is £17.95 for adults, £18.95 for children and £3.95 for babies.
Overall I do think it's a bit pricy, and a bit cheeky charging the same or even more for children, but you can make savings when you buy the ticket online, and sometimes Gulliver's World run the promotional prices.
Car parking is a field, basically, with no set spaces. Unfortunately this meant that though parking in the morning was fine, when we came back in the afternoon a car had parked so close to ours that we couldn't get the door open to get our daughter in her car seat and my husband had to pull the car out to do so - I don't know what I would have done had I been on my own!
On the plus side, parking is free.
The entrance comprises a semi circle with the splash zone entrance first, then the main park entrance, and further around, a large log hotel.
As we had purchased our tickets online, we had a print out with a bar code. We queued for no more than a minute before our bar code was scanned and we were in Gulliver's World.
The park is set around a large and very pretty duck pond, it's very scenic, and in the glorious sunshine, which we had, it looks very cheerful.
The park is made up of different themed areas, each with little rides suited to younger children. The areas are as follows:
Gulliver's Railroad Main Station (An old fashioned mini railway which my daughter loved. It goes around the entire park, right back to the start, so I suggest you try this first, as you can get a look around the park and start from the beginning.
Veteran Cars (Little old fashioned cars which you ride around a track, my daughter loved this!)
Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Fire Brigade Ride
Billy Bob's Bi Planes (Planes which go around a central column and lift in the air, suitable for toddlers but my little one was too scared!)
The Runaway Train Coaster
Pedalos (Pedal amongst the swans and ducks)
Rio Grande Train Ride
**Gully's Cartoon Studios** (I believe this was closed on the day we visited).
Ellie's Animal Merry Go Round
Ellie The Ellephant Ride
The Antelope Wooden Coaster
Castle Toboggan Track
Horses Carousel (A beautiful old fashioned carousel, parents can stand and support their children on the upper level).
Alpine log Flume (Very high!)
Leonard's Flying Raft
Wild Mine Ride
Tree Tops Swing
**The Lost World** (An obvious knock off of the official Jurassic Park / Lost World movies!) There are big dinosaurs through a tree top walk, which made for some great photos and my dino-mad toddler thought was brilliant.
Carousel of Evolution
Journey's of Discovery
Dino Safari Tours
Sky Tours Observation Tower
The Incubation Unit
Flight of the Pteranodon
Junior Dino Cavalcade
Percy's Nippers Pirate Ship (A junior, indoor version of the big swinging pirate ship)
I would say about 70% of the rides are suitable for a toddler over 90cm as long as an adult rides with them which is a good percentage compared to places like Nickelodeon Land or Alton Towers which seem to be more geared to the thrill seekers.
My daughter preferred calmer, quieter and slower rides because she has only just turned two and she is a sensitive soul but she loved to watch the bigger rides even if she didn't quite have the bottle to try them out!
You can take a pushchair, but we prefrred to let her walk with her reins because otherwise you'd be leaving the buggy at every ride, though all are manned, so it's perfectly safe to do so.
Another excellent feature of Gulliver's World is that the small ride on toys (the ones you see in supermarkets and at the seaside, which you put 50p in) have all been set to free play so you don't have to keep forking out once you're in there.
Oh dear, food is such a big let-down at Gulliver's World, such a big let down. We didn't take a packed lunch as we wanted to go to the all you can eat pizza and pasta place. Unfortunately after walking around the park, not easy with a toddler, looking for it, we overheard a staff member tell another guest that it was closed. A bit of a cheek, I am wondering whether it was closed to 'encourage' people to go to the other outlets, given that the tickets were discounted that weekend. Very disappointing.
There are no concessions in Gulliver's World, so no McDonalds, no Starbucks, no KFC. Not that I want to eat that myself every day but it's a theme park, we sort of expected a bit of choice!
The only places open were two small cafe restaurants and a coffee shop, and two small sweet pancake stalls. We went to the first restaurant (in the Circus area) to find it was only serving chips, burgers, fried fish and fried veggie burgers. The food looked absolutely awful and wasn't cheap, so we swerved that for the second small restaurant in the 'camelot' style area (just under the huge princess' castle, which actually doesn't lead to anywhere!)
To our dismay not only were they selling the exact same fried rubbish and it was filthy, it stank of old oil and we saw the 'chef' pick up a burger with his bare fingers, sniff it and throw it back on the grill. We walked out!!
This left us with the coffee shop where we were then informed that no-where, not one shop or outlet, accepts card payments of any sort. That's right, Gulliver's World is cash only, and there is only one (one!!) cash point right back at the start of the park (which charges £1.50 per withdrawal). It was too far for our tired toddler to walk so we scraped up what we had on us (£6) and paid £5.20 for two of the most vile tuna sandwiches ever (we were told they were tuna and mayo but it turns out it was dry tuna between 2 pieces of bread scraped with mayo...driest sandwich ever! Yuck. Luckily my daughter had a drink and some raisins in her back pack so she was satisfied with a sandwich and raisins, me and hubby split a sandwich, I have to admit we stopped for food outside of Gulliver's World on the way home, not what you want to have to do.
My advice therefore is 1. Take a packed lunch and 2. If you want an ice cream or drink, make sure to take some cash.
My little girl did enjoy her day at Gulliver's World, I can't deny it but there are some issues which made it less great for myself and hubby. I think these could be dealt with quite easily so I do hope they read reviews and heed feedback. I'll list them because it's easier:
- The train station has a broken down old train abandoned on the track right at the start of the park entrance. You sit staring at it waiting for the train to start and it's full of rubbish.
- There are abandoned broken rides and decorations (a broken dinosaur, chipped wood carvings etc) around the park which you can see when you're on the train ride and tree top walk.
- The food, as above, is disgusting.
- The entrance is shabby and dated, it sets the wrong tone for the park.
- The lack of cashpoints and the only one being at the entrance, and a charged one at that. Gulliver's World, you'd make more if your outlets allowed card transactions!
- Some of the children's climbing frames are on sand and there are cigarette butts in the sand. As it's a children's theme park really, could they not ban smoking or allow it only in a designated area?
- Car parking can be an issue if an inconsiderate driver parks too close to be able to open your doors - either marking spaces or having an attendant would be good.
Overall my little girl enjoyed Gulliver's World and we did only pay £9 per person. I think for any more than that I'd have been disappointed however and this leads me to the conclusion that sadly I do think it is over priced and I don't think that they are really re-investing the money enough into park care.
The staff all seem friendly and enthusiastic, and I can't fault how much my daughter loved the little rides she went on. I do think the issues we saw are easily remedied with a little time and money and it would probably encourage me to re visit but as it stands it's not somewhere I would visit yearly.
My daughter has just as much fun at the seaside which even in parking and arcade costs, still works out cheaper than Gulliver's World. So for now we've had our one visit and we would be unlikely to visit again until she is older and they do another promotional price (and we will be sure to take a substantial packed lunch!)
A mixed bag of a review really and overall I'll give Gulliver's World 3 out of 5 and really hope that the management take some time to sort out the issues because it is a great local resource and looks so pretty on a sunny day. I don't want it to close down like American Adventure but sadly it does feel like some areas are dated and becoming delapidated.
If you can get a promotional price for tickets at Gulliver's World and you aren't travelling too far, give it a try because your kids will probably love it nevertheless. Just go prepared!!
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