Lifestyle: What to expect at Sundown Adventureland kids theme park

My friends had told me about Sundown Adventureland a few times, as they had older children and I kept hearing people raving about it. As with anything, I prefer to check it out for myself and with the children being just turned 4 and 2 (at the time of visiting) it seemed a good time to visit.

We planned to set off on the journey fairly quickly after breakfast hoping to beat the traffic but, as with all good planning, it ended up being around 9 when we got in the car.

Sundown Adventureland is over the Humber Bridge from where we live and then some, so around 1.5 hour drive, which was pushing the limits for us. Up to now, we have stuck to around 1 hour drive time to avoid any frustration from the wee ones, although as they get older it's less of an issue.

When we eventually pulled up the kids were like coiled springs and jumped out of the car, barely containing their joy. Many people were also teaming around the car park and waiting in queues to get in. Luckily, as we'd been told. the ticket booths were plentiful and the queue went down fast.

I had booked ahead online, as most places expect in these Covid times, so it was quite straight forward to get in. I think the littlest got in for free being under 90cm but was still able to go on a few of the rides and enjoyed the play parks. 

We had been advised to avoid being suckered into the playground right at the entrance as for one, it's busy and two, you waste loads of time when the good stuff is further on.

So off we trotted trying to keep two excitable little ones from diving into everything we saw. We soon came to the fun bit; the rides, and so we queued to get on a train attraction. We waited maybe 10 minutes at most, even though the queue was sizable, because the rides don't last long.

The first thing that struck me was that it all looked very dated and unsurprisingly most of it was created in the 1970's, in somebody's back garden. It was originally built for very two lucky grandchildren and is now shared with the world.

The Little Inspiration enjoyed the ride but found the Cowboy and Indian shoot em up theme a bit of a new experience, and I found it a bit outdated(!), plus the life size figures were a bit creepy, but it certainly wasn't scary or fast. 

We then located one of the parks for the littlest to play on and looked around some of the play areas like the life size village complete with shops and post offices. That was a big hit with Boy Inspiration, so much so I couldn't get him out!

There was also a 'farm' area which was complete with plastic animals and people, which I found a bit dated and thought it missed an opportunity for a real experience among the rest, but the kids enjoyed looking around.

I think us being relatively new to attractions for kids, we've done a lot of farms, forest schools and play areas with natural materials - pretty much all outdoors too - and this place is not that. By a long chalk! But I can see its been well loved and has its place.

We decided to focus our energies on the rides, which were by far the best bit. We all went on a boat ride, which was on a sort of lazy river rapid, and you get squirted by a giant octopus. We all loved it and had a great time. The most stressful bit was trying to get us all on and off in the 10 second window whilst it's still moving. I had visions of me going down the rapids with one leg in and one leg out of the raft :) 

There was a castle to explore, Angry Bird's park and fairytale inspired play area with a little cottage in the woods, which I imagine for kids must be pretty magical. 

We then went on the tractor ride where the kids got to drive us around, which is always a clear winner and then some flying pigs that bounced around, which resulted in a lot of laughter.

There were maybe two rides too big for our newly turned 4 year old, but most things are suitable for toddlers upwards with an adult sat with them. There are so many surreal experiences at Sundown Adventureland, including singing monkeys and a fairy world, but the most surreal was a year round Christmas ride. It was good fun, though.

We took a packed lunch for the kids, not knowing if they'd have much food, if it would be busy or cater for food allergies, but there seemed to be a few standard food options. The day before we did get an email saying due to staffing levels there would be reduced food options.

We don't like travelling back too late (hello danger nap) so left around 3.30, as things were starting to get quieter anyway. We could easily have gone to more parks, played longer or waited for more rides but we simply ran out of time. I'd probably need another 1.5 hour to fit everything in we wanted.

Our kids seemed to enjoy it and we certainly loved the family rides that we could all enjoy, but we personally prefer more nature in our play, I think. 

It's certainly not my favourite place I've been with the kids, which might be unpopular as everyone seems to love it, but I think we'll be back next summer when both kids are a little older and we can stay longer without worrying about naps. 

My two certainly seemed to enjoy it, though, and it had a sort of Disney small world vibe to it with some of the rides, which was good. I think without the worry of Covid and it being one of our first outings to a busy children's attraction, we might have relaxed more.

If you're thinking of going I've heard its even more magical this time of year with all of the lights and a meet Santa experience.

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