Sundown Adventureland, Retford, Nottinghamshire

To us, Sundown Adventureland is one of the best kids days out around. It is a little over an hour away from our home and we try and visit at least once a year. We were invited to return to check out the new features including the Angry Birds play area, so it would have been rude not to!

 
Sundown Adventureland was our very first review on this blog, so we have kind of come full circle. To be honest, not much has changed since then, apart from a couple of new bits and some welcome upgrading of existing facilities. It’s still the same old Sundown that we love – great value, good fun, and a fantastic theme park for under 10s.
 
The first thing to say about Sundown is that I think you should get there early. We got there at 11am, didn’t get to do everything, and still left at the park’s closing time of 6pm. We were there for seven hours and it absolutely flew by. 
 
Sundown Adventureland is a kids theme park with small rides, attractions, things to poke, and themed play areas. It’s a bit of a mish-mash, with themes The Wild West, fairy tales, a farm, and now Angry Birds. There is also Robin Hood, and monkeys, and also Christmas stuff for the park’s winter season. There is a lot to see and do, so I shall tell you in (numerous) photos.
 
When we arrived, Honey Bear was in the Market Square. Honey and Sunny are the park’s mascots and they come out a couple of times a day for meet and greets. 
 
Sundown Adventureland Nottinghamshire
 
 
First we headed to the animal playground, which is suitable for children aged five and under. There are spinny things, swings, and slides all on an animal theme. Right next door are the toilets (with baby changing), a small indoor play area for tots, and a cafe/kiosk for drinks and ice-creams.
 
 
Sundown Adventureland Nottingham
 
Then it started to rain a little so we went to find the Santa Sleigh ride. This is perfect for the park’s Christmas season when Santa comes to visit, but is open all year round for a bit of random winter delight. It is my three-year olds’ favourite ride – you walk through first and look at some wonderful scenes of woodland creatures, and then you get in a carriage (up to four people) and visit Santa in his winter home, and see Mrs Claus, Rudolph, and dancing snowmen. We went on this twice in a row, and didn’t have to queue either time.
 
 
Then it’s the infamous Monkey Mischief – an interactive walk-through of monkeys and jungle animals. There is a soundtrack of monkey songs, and lots of buttons to press. Watch out for the crocodiles!
Sundown Adventureland Monkey Mischief
 
By now, we were getting a bit hungry so we headed off to Crash Landings – a huge indoor play area with a fast-food bar. We had a bit of a play and got some nuggets, burgers, and chips for lunch. The food isn’t gourmet by any means, but it is cooked fresh, came out quick, and wasn’t extortionately priced. It can get very busy though and you may have to fight for a table at times. I wholeheartedly recommend taking a picnic if that’s more your thing as there are plenty of places (including a covered picnic area) to sit and eat. I also noticed more places to sit around the park this year, which is a welcome improvement.
 
 
After lunch, we went to test out the new Angry Birds play area, with its bouncing/flying pigs ride, and the spinning eggs (tea-cup) ride. All good fun. The new Angry Birds play area has frames, slides, swings, and an interactive game pad, all on the Angry Birds theme. It is very good and suitable for a wide age range. My ten-year old loved it as much as the three-year olds. Again, minimal queues for the rides, and all included in the entry price.

Angry Birds at Sundown Adventureland


Sunny Down Farm and the Tractor Ride are a popular part of Sundown Adventureland. The farm is animatronic animals, and you can press buttons to make them sing and move. The dancing chickens are especially fun. 

Sunny Down Farm at Sundown Adventureland


The tractor ride is on a similar theme, with four to a tractor, and was the biggest queue of the day at all of five minutes.

Tractor Ride at Sundown Adventureland


Next door to Sunny Down Farm is one of our favourite parts – Story Book Village. This is a collection of miniature houses for various fairy tales, such as The Three Little Pigs, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Lots of buttons to press and things to fiddle with, perfect for little people. I had to drag the twins out of the little pigs house so we could move on. 

Story Book Village at Sundown Adventureland


So, we moved on to other areas of the park. The pirate area is lots of fun. There is a new area with bridges to explore, which leads over to the huge pirate ship. The bridges go over the top of the very fun Jolly Pirate Boat Ride, where you sit in barrels and go round a water-course. Beware, you may get very wet! You do have to accompany children on this ride, so there’s no getting out of it. Just make sure your non-waterproof items are safe. 

Jolly Pirate Boat Ride at Sundown Adventureland

Lollipoppet Castle is very popular with my children. There’s not a lot to do, but there is a lot to look at. Explore the castle and find out how sweets are really made – with elves obviously! Find out what it’s like to be small and sit on Polo mints. Smells galore. Look out for the cheeky King’s bottom! 

Lollipoppet Castle at Sundown Adventureland

If you’re a fan of all things Wild West, then take a visit to Shotgun City. Here you will find a western street with a saloon (animatronic sing-along shows are several times a day), an indoor soft play area with a cafe and toilets, the Rocky Mountain Train Ride, a bank with exploding vault, and a shooting gallery – again, all included in the price. There is also a very nice ice-cream shop. 

Shotgun City at Sundown Adventureland

A short walk away to the Fort Apache play area, with a zip wire, slides, and lots of climbing fun. And some welcome benches for the grown-ups!

Fort Apache play area at Sundown Adventureland


And then back to the Market Square for more prodding and poking, and possibly a chance to meet with Honey and Sunny again. Make sure you pay a visit to the Pet Shop, and if you want a souvenir of your visit, the gift shop is next door. 

The Market Square at Sundown Adventureland

There is also a Robin Hood ride near to Sunny Down Farm, which is good fun, and several other things we didn’t even get chance to do, like the play area in Smuggler’s Cove, the pedal carts, and Captain Sandy’s Play Cove. But we just didn’t have time to do everything.

What I like about Sundown Adventureland is the value. I don’t always talk about value when reviewing somewhere as I think it’s a very subjective thing, but I think £12 per person (aged two and above) for seven hours of non-stop fun is awesome. For under 10s, it’s much better value than somewhere like Alton Towers where you can spend more time queuing and walking about than anything else. You don’t pay for anything apart from food & drink and shop purchases once you’re in, so you’re not constantly shelling out for extras. 

Sundown Adventureland has been criticised in the past for being a bit tired, and not having as many facilities as bigger theme parks, but it’s the informal, friendlier atmosphere that I like. There has also been a noted improvement in park maintenance with better toilets, more benches, and more litter bins than on previous visits. The staff are very friendly, and helpful, and there are plenty of them around. Don’t expect pushchair or wheelchair hire, or lots of choice when it comes to food – but there are the expected toilets, baby changing, and first aid facilities, and you can do the short walk back to your car if you need any extra essentials. Just ask for a hand stamp for re-entry. 

I recommend Sundown Adventureland for anyone aged up to ten, although my ten-year old does still enjoy going and probably will for a couple of years yet. While it’s best if it’s sunny, there is still things to do in rainy weather – just take a rain coat.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit their website at http://www.sundownadventureland.co.uk/themepark/

Disclosure – We were given free tickets to come and visit and to give our honest opinion

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