Newest Review: ... 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... more
You'll not want to go home before sun down
Sundown Adventureland (Nottinghamshire)
Member Name: cha97mw
Sundown Adventureland (Nottinghamshire)
Advantages: lots to entertain under tens, very imaginative, reasonably priced concessions
Disadvantages: pricey to get in,but lots to do there.
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.
Summary: A magical place when you are small and keen to explore.
- White Post Farm Centre (Farnsfield)
- Monks Park Farm (Yorkshire)
- Tayto Park (Kilbrew)
- Marine Aquarium (Lyme Regis)
- Crocodiles of the World (Oxfordshire)
- Drusillas Park (East Sussex)
- Pleasure Island (Lincolnshire)
- Crealy Adventure Park (Devon)
- Twycross Zoo (Warwickshire)
- Norfolk Dinosaur Adventure Park