Written on: 02/11/2004 by t4mof (6 reviews written)
Perfect for young children.
Food prices are reasonable.
Older children can take over.
Toilet facilities could be better
Three months ago I hadn't heard of Sundown Adventureland and then in the space a week, 2 separate friends of mine recommended it as a good day out for young children. The park advertises itself as "the theme park uniquely designed for the under 10s" so don't expect thrill-a-minute white knuckle rides. However, if you're looking for a fun day out for toddlers and young children with gentle rides and lots of interaction, then it could be the perfect choice.
~ ~ ~ Entrance ~ ~ ~
There is an extensive free car park and an overflow, so even at busy times there should be no parking problems. There are two pay kiosks, one that takes cash only and one that accepts debit and credit cards. Queues to get in weren't a problem when we visited but I could imagine on a warm Bank Holiday, two kiosks may not be enough.
The admission fee is a flat rate £6.50 for all over 2 years of age, with no option to buy a reduced rate family ticket. It may seem like an expensive price to pay for a 2 year old but the park does cater for children of this age and they would be able to enjoy a full day inside the park. There is a group reduction for parties of 20 or more at £5.50 each and under 2s are free.
~ ~ ~ Market Square ~ ~ ~
Once in the park the first entertainment takes place in the Market Square. There is a market stall and when certain fruit and veg are moved, nursery rhymes are heard. So, for example, play with the oranges and hear "Oranges and Lemons" or open up a pie and "Sing a Song of Sixpence" will be played. There are also two birds trying to pull the same worm out of the ground and a yodelling goat.
The first ride can also be found here - Santa's Sleigh Ride. It isn't necessarily the ideal ride to be going on in August but it is still fun for the children. You are taken through various winter and Christmas scenes and see Santa getting the presents ready as well as Rudolph tucked up in bed. There isn't anything to scare children on the ride although it does get a little dark in places.
In the Market Square you will also find the Witches Cauldron. This is a slightly more frightening feature. It is just one room with several witches relaxing and making spells and potions. Again it is dark and at the age of 3, Jacob wasn't all that sure that he wanted to be there. There are several buttons to press which make different things happen - spiders come down from the ceiling, broomsticks bob up and down and things peer out from behind cupboard doors. I could imagine many toddlers wouldn't like this too much but for the 8-10 year old age range, it could be quite entertaining.
~ ~ ~ Toilet and Eating Facilities ~ ~ ~
Close to the Market Square was one of the two sets of toilet and baby change facilities and a restaurant. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the toilets and baby change area. It was obviously cleaned very well regularly and made a nice change from the usual public loo standards. My only concern was that there weren't enough dotted around the whole park. There was only one other block of toilets and they were relatively close to the first set, meaning that if you were at the top end of the park, getting to a toilet would take quite a few minutes - and as all of you who have experienced the wonderful toilet training phase with toddlers will know, you don't often have "quite a few minutes" to spare. For a park that is aimed at kids, I think this is one area that could and should be improved upon.
The restaurant sold mainly fast food - burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and the like along with biscuits and jacket potatoes. I was happy with the prices for food. Often places like this will charge a small fortune for not much food but I felt it was very reasonable. High chairs are also provided for the younger members of the family as well as a microwave so baby food can be warmed up. There are plenty of picnic areas in case taking your own lunch is an option you prefer.
~ ~ ~ Noah's Ark Under 5s Play Area ~ ~ ~
This is situated outside the restaurant and is a play park specifically designed for under 5s including climbing frames, see-saws and slides. The main feature is Noah's Ark that children can run in and out of. Jacob spent quite a long time in here and enjoyed it but I felt that there should have been at least one member of staff on duty enforcing the "Under 5s" rule. Children up to the ages of 12 or 13 were charging around and wondering why they couldn't fit into the swings. After a while there were too many older children for the younger ones to enjoy what was on offer.
~ ~ ~ Smuggler's Cove ~ ~ ~
This area of the park is based on the theme of Pirates. Children can explore a pirate ship and climb through different shops and a smugglers inn. All the buildings link together from the inside so children can move from one to another. Great for the children but a little hard for parents to keep track of where they are. You can accompany your child inside the buildings but be prepared for stooping over for long periods of time. Practising contortionist skills beforehand might also be advisable!
There is also a wet water ride where up to 2 adults and 2 children can sit in a beer barrel and enjoy a relaxing ride with various pirate scenes on the banks to keep you amused. There are sprays in action though so you may get wet - fine in August, not so good in October.
~ ~ ~ Lollipoppet Castle ~ ~ ~
Leaving the pirates behind, we made our way to Lollipoppet Castle which really is straight out of a fairy tale. Again there is plenty to explore inside. The highlight for me was the king showing off his new outfit. It looked very nice from the front but if you catch sight of him in the mirror you are greeted with a bit of a surprise.
The courtyard of the castle is dominated by a huge ice-cream sundae which occasionally blows out bubbles for the children to chase.
~ ~ ~ Toy Town & Sunny Down Farm ~ ~ ~
Toy Town includes yet more buildings, this time with a "high street" theme. Sit on the fire engine in the Fire Station, keep fit at the Doctors and play shop in the Grocers. It's a great stimulation for children to switch to role play, especially if they have a friend or sibling with them and there is plenty of seating available for the adults while the children get lost in their imaginary worlds.
Next door to Toy Town is Sunny Down Farm which is a small area where you can learn why eggshells are hard and try to mend a tractor among other things. As with the rest of the park there are plenty of buttons to press to make things happen. There are no real animals here, everything is plastic - but then real animals can't sing, dance and talk to you.
If you want to see more plastic farmyard scenes, take a tractor ride. The queue for this was quite long and it seemed to be one of the more popular attractions. Again 2 adults and 2 children can share one tractor and a nice touch is that both front seats have steering wheels so there are no arguments about who should drive.
~ ~ ~ Yellow Brick Road & Story Book Village ~ ~ ~
We walked along the Yellow Brick Road and saw models of the Wizard of Oz characters. It's not really interactive but it is worth walking down as a cut through to other areas of the park.
The Story Book Village was one of my favourite areas. Several houses of well known story characters such as Jack and the Beanstalk, the 3 Little Pigs and Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs were open for children to listen to the stories and see scenes from them. Highlights were the piano in the 3 Little Pigs house and locking the witch in the oven and stirring her cauldron in Hansel and Gretel's house. It's not exactly Disneyworld but it was great fun and again plenty to keep the youngsters occupied.
~ ~ ~ Wild Wild West ~ ~ ~
Finally we made our way to an area loosely based on cowboys where we took a train ride through the rocky mountains looking out for shooting bandits. The Junglemania restaurant is located here which includes an indoor soft play area and it is also the location of the other toilet facilities.
~ ~ ~ Overall ~ ~ ~
I felt the day out was good value for money, costing us just under £20 for the 3 of us. We spent 6 hours there and didn't run out of things to do. It is certainly best suited to young families and there was a nice atmosphere to the place. Buggies have to be left outside most of the rides and I had the feeling that it was perfectly safe to do this.
The disappointments for me were the lack of staff in the Under 5s play area and the limited toilet facilities.
~ ~ ~ Park Details ~ ~ ~
The park is situated close to the A1 at Worksop and is signposted from the A57. Because of its location, it is in easy reach for people living in the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
The park is open for most of the year but is closed from Christmas Day through to February half term and they have special Christmas Festivity Weekends throughout November and December which includes meeting Santa and getting a present.
Sundown Adventureland opens at 10am and closes between 4pm and 7pm depending on the time of year.
All prices and times are correct for the 2004 season.