We love Sundown Adventureland. It is unbelievably tacky which we know isn’t for everyone, but we embrace it, and it makes me feel happy. Sundown Adventureland is marketed as a theme park for the under 10s. The best thing about this is that all kids can go on all the rides with an adult, there are no restrictions.
We first visited Sundown Adventureland when Ted was 22 months, and we were looking for somewhere to break a long journey. We spent most of our 20s travelling up and down the A1M, so we had seen this place signposted along the way. It wasn’t as close to the motorway as we had hoped, but it looked good on the website, so we decided to give it a go.
We loved it so much we returned 8 months later with a 6-week old baby. This time we planned the trip around the visit. We booked a hotel/apartment on booking.com so we could spend the night before close by.
Highlights and What to Expect at Sundown Adventureland
Sundown Adventureland is divided up into different themed areas, each with an associated ride, play areas and odd animatronics. The areas include the wild west, a pirate town, a farmyard, toy town and many many more. Some parts haven’t got much going on, others you could spend all day in.
To take the wild west area as an example. It’s the first area you come to is you turn right as you enter the park. You will find yourself walking down the street in a town in the old west. Most of the buildings on both sides can be explored and have activities and games inside. The barbershop has bubbles and signing coming from it, and in the general store, you can use the mounted guns to shoot mice.
It’s easy to walk past but on the right, as you enter the street is the entrance to Fort Apache, a vast play area for slightly older children. Further down the road is the access to a western-themed soft play area and café. At the far end is the associated ride, a classic runaway mine train. It doesn’t go exceptionally fast, but Ted would still happily spend all day on it.
The wild west area is probably the busiest at Sundown Adventureland. There is one other stand-alone soft play area and café. There are plenty more rides, interactive activities and play areas though.
When to go to Sundown Adventureland
We have been in both December and June during term time. I have no idea how busy it gets during the school holidays. The theme park is spread out over a large area, so there is room to absorb a lot of people. There’s also plenty of things to do that don’t involve standing in queues. I would always favour off-peak times though, and they do offer cheaper tickets for these.
During off-peak times the rides run on a timetable which you are handed when you enter. This makes absolute sense and is a simple system to follow. It does mean you end up chatting to the same staff at each ride, but since you rarely have to wait more than a couple of minutes, it’s not too awkward! The rides are all open frequently enough and for long enough periods that you don’t miss out on anything.
How Does Sundown Adventureland Compare?
We visited Cbeebies Land at Alton Towers recently and found we couldn’t stop comparing it to our favourite theme park. Sundown is undoubtedly lower budget than Cbeebies Land, but we like it so much more. I’m not sure if that’s a controversial statement.
Whereas Cbeebies Land is very compact and a little claustrophobic, Sundown Adventureland is spread out over a large area. At Sundown the rides are the centrepiece, there is a lot of emphasis on making sure there is plenty to do alongside the rides. At Cbeebies Land, there is not much to do away from the rides. There are activities to do in the queues (not enough) and some areas that are not rides, but it still feels lacking.
Have you been to any other theme parks for under 10s? What did you think? I would love some recommendations!
Sundown Adventureland by Area
The entrance area contains the most eclectic mix of themes, including Christmas, Noahs Ark and a market. It sets the tone for what to expect in the rest of the theme park. There’s a ride, a play area and some buttons to push. Here’s what to expect:
- Noah’s Ark Under 5s Play Area – This little area is perfect for small children, especially over-adventurous ones like mine. It is fun without all the tricky stuff for older children (there’s plenty of this in the rest of the theme park).
- Market Square – Market Square is the first area you enter. The stalls here all have buttons to push. The kids love it.
- Witch’s Cauldron and Sundown Pet Shop – There are a few fake shops around the entrance with some more push buttons.
- Santa’s Sleigh Ride – This ride is open for you to experience the magic of Christmas year-round. Jump into Santa’s Sleigh and be transported to Christmas eve for 5 minutes. It might sound weird, but it’s a real treat.
- Real Reindeer – Each year for the Christmas period the reindeer visit Sundown.
- The Night Before Christmas Ride – Also during Christmas only, Sundown Adventureland plays host to a temporary Christmas area, complete with Santa.
Shotgun City is the Wild West-themed area of Sundown Adventureland. There’s plenty of things to see and do here including a ride, soft play and buttons to press.
- Shotgun City – The Main Street in Shotgun City has many explorable buildings including a bank, sheriff’s office and general store complete with shooting gallery. There are dozens of buttons to press and fun to be had.
- Rocky Mountain Railroad – The ride in Shotgun City is a train. It departs from a station and goes on a tour around the ‘wild’ country before heading into a mine. On the way around, animatronics provide entertainment. The kids will love it because it is a train.
- Fort Apache – This is an enormous playground suitable for older children.
- Rodeo Corral Indoor Play – This indoor soft play has a cafe and area for toddlers
The Pirate themed section of Sundown Adventureland spans the middle of the theme park. It includes another ride, two playgrounds and a lot of theming.
- Smuggler’s Cove – The centre of the pirate section has a boat full of pirates and push buttons, and a fishing village themed play area. The wooden buildings can all be explored. Many of them are connected via secret passageways and doors.
- Jolly Pirate Barrel Ride – The Pirate Barrel Ride is a bit different to the other rides at the theme park, which tend to be track rides. On this ride, you jump in a raft and float around the river, occasionally being sprayed with water.
- Captain Sandy’s Play Cove – I have grouped this within Pirate Adventure because it is nautical themed. It can be found separately, close to the Angry Birds. It is a large sandpit playground suitable for toddlers.
Wild Animals Area
- Monkey Mayhem Driving School – This is the only activity on-site with an official age limit. Children must watch an instructional video before taking to the track. Kids love driving themselves.
- Monkey Mischief – In my opinion, this is the push button activity that is the most fun. Orang-utans blast out Disney hits and mischievous monkeys perform tricks for the kids.
- The WILD Ostrich Safari – This ride also has a height restriction, but small children can ride with an adult. Jump on the back of an ostrich and have a tour of the animals.
The Storybook area consists of the Storybook Village and a few smaller sites.
- Storybook Village – The Storybook Village is full of stylised houses from different children’s stories including Rumplestilskin, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and the Three Little Pigs. All the houses can be entered, they have been wonderfully decorated, and there are lots of things to do and buttons to press to hear the tales.
- Yellow Brick Road – A recreation of The Wizard of Oz in the woods.
- Dragon – The scariest thing at Sundown Adventureland. Try and steal his treasure and see what happens.
Sunny Down Farm
- Sunny Down Farm – More buttons to press on the farm and lots of amusing things to see.
- Sundown Tractor – This ride is next to the farm. The kids love it because they get to drive a tractor. Once again you are entertained by animatronic antics on the farm.
- Angry Birds Activity Park -This is a big Angry Birds themed playground suitable for older children. There are some big slides here.
- Okie Yolkie Ride – This is a bird version of a spinning teacup ride.
- Giddy Piggies Ride – The flying pigs are the thing Ted remembered most from his early visits to Sundown Adventureland. It is a typical flying ride.
Stand Alone Areas
- Robin Hood – The Robin Hood Castle area has a track ride where animatronics tell the story of Robin Hood’s adventures.
- Toy Town – This little imaginative play area is filled with small shops to enter. Each one has games to play and things to do.
- Crash Landings Indoor Play – This is a vast, safari-themed indoor soft play. It has a large cafe serving hot and cold food.
- Lollpoppet Castle – This castle is probably the strangest place in Sundown Adventureland. It is inhabited by characters obsessed with sweets. There are sweet smells, such as mint and liquorice, pumped into different rooms.