Review: Nickelodeon Adventure, Lakeside (Essex)

We went to Nickelodeon Adventure at Lakeside, Essex for my son’s third birthday. He is a huge Paw Patrol fan and loved it, but as a parent I was less wowed. The first thing I thought when we arrived was "is this it?", but it did win me over seeing how my son had a great time. It’s all quite spaced out and I think the space between activities makes it feel like there isn't a lot there. I can see some children going round and being “done” in about 15 minutes where as other children will easily play for the allotted 2 1/2 time slot and not want to leave. I would definitely go back and I think it's worth a visit for many families, but it wont suit everyone. Read my review to decide if it is worth visiting with your family.

The outside of Nickelodeon Adventure lakeside shopping centre when we visited January 2022
A review of our visit to Nickelodeon Adventure at Lakeside Essex with my preschooler


Visiting Nickelodeon Adventure at Lakeside, Essex (a review)

Paw Patrol's Adventure Bay 

Once you scan your tickets you go up the escalator (or lift) to a corridor that says “Adventure Bay” follow the tunnel and you are into the Adventure. The most popular Nickelodeon characters at the moment are probably Paw Patrol and they will be a big draw for children wanting to visit this attraction. 

The Paw Patrol area is "Adventure Bay" and it consists of 4 non-moving vehicles children can play on: Chase’s Police Car, Marshall’s Fire Engine, Skye’s Helicopter and Rocky’s Recycling Truck. If your child loves to spend ages in those vehicles at shopping centres etc without you putting money in they will love the Paw Patrol area as there is plenty of space for them to press the buttons, pretend to drive and generally make like they are their favourite pup. 

There is also a Paw Patrol Command Centre they can climb up and slide down. But yes it's just these 5 things.  More than enough for many children, but a bit underwhelming for adults. Then again adults are the target audience.

A preschool boy playing on a lifesize Paw Patrol Chase Police Car
Chase is on the case with the help of my Preschooler

Marshall's fire truck at Nickelodeon Adventure Lakeside
Adventure Bay has 4 vehicles to play on and a Command Tower

A 3 year old boy playing in Adventure Bay at Lakeside Essex
Playing on Rocky's Recycling Truck


Nick Central

If you move round anti-clockwise towards the cafe you next get to the “Nick Central” area where children can engage in a few different activities themed on a range of Nickelodeon characters. There is a game where you can wind a steering wheel to have a race as Blaze (from Blaze and the Monster machines) and a game where you can pick up balls with a digger for them to go up a conveyor belt (I didn't recognise the programme this was from).

There are then various short “climbing tube” tunnels children can climb through and they have some screens inside which light up showing characters. Then before you get to the cafe there is a mostly walled off space with soft blocks you can build towers with. This “Rugrats” themed space is a basic soft play area for toddlers, but there weren't any obvious signs about age limits or to take shoes off so I assume that it’s open to any age.


SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom

The next area is “Bikini Bottom”. It’s the largest of the themed areas with half of it taken up by a Boating School where you can drive boats (they are on wheels and essentially cars, but themed as boats because you are under the sea in Bikini Bottom). 

When you go into the Boating school each child gets a photo taken for their driving license (you can buy it for £10 in the shop on your way out) and then you watch a short video which tells you how to drive. You have to be over 90cm to go on this ride and if you are under 4 then you can’t do the driving (I think over 120cm can go on without an adult). For under 4s an adult needs to be in charge of the boat and there isn’t a lot of leg room (be warned). Despite not being allowed to drive my son enjoyed pressing the button to sound the horn repeatedly and choosing the direction; he didn’t want to get off when time was up.

The rest of Bikini Bottom is a series of displays that children can interact with using wheels, pedals and levers to make the scene move, light up or make noises. There is an organ which makes farting type noises when you jump on the keys on the floor and a game where you can compete against 2 others to catch as many balls in your net as you can in 30 seconds. I had to hold my just turned 3 year old up so he could play this because you can’t see the balls when you are 3 year old height. 

If you keep going round anti-clockwise you get the entrance to the 4D cinema which we didn’t go into because my son was too short so I don’t know what it’s like. Opposite this there is a Dora themed activity where stars light up and you can create constellations with your arms, but we couldn’t work out how to interact with it.


Sponge Bob's Boating School at Lakeside, Essex
SpongeBob's Boating School allows you to drive around and get your license

Interactive displays at Sponge Bob Squarepants Bikini Bottom
The rest of Bikini Bottom is filled with interactive displays


The TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Action Zone

The TMNT Action Zone is mostly a soft play where you need to remove your shoes at the entrance. It’s themed as a city's roof tops and has plenty of seating for adults. It initially appears underwhelming because it’s not a big play frame like you might think of a soft play, but it is spaced out with lots of different bits to investigate. 

The whole of Nickelodeon Adventure has dimmed lights, but the Turtle softplay is even darker. There is one bit “the rooftop” which has a steep tunnel slide as well as an area to explore underneath that was so dark I used my phone to see what was there. It felt like there must have been some lighting somewhere there which was broken, but as it’s night themed, maybe not. If your children are scared of the dark it wont be for them. However there are a couple of other bits in the soft play area they can climb on, jump on and punch which aren't so dark. It is recommended as suitable for age 3 to 11.

Finally before you come full circle back to Adventure Bay there is “Donatella’s Flying Ninjas” which is an operator controlled ride where you pedal to make a flying bike thing go up and down while it goes round. You must be over 90cm to go on and if under 120cm need to be accompanied by an adult, probably because anyone shorter wouldn’t be able to reach the pedals.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed Soft Play in Essex
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Themed Soft Play Area at Nickelodeon Adventure, Lakeside

A ride where you pedal and go up and down at Nickelodeon Adventure, Lakeside
Donatella's Flying Ninja Ride


Meet and Greets

At some point in the time window you are there (if you visit for the maximum 2 and a half hours) there should be a character meet and greet. We were told the time when we went in and it was on a couple of posters if you forget. People started lining up about 5 minutes before the advertised time by a barrier next to Adventure Bay. 

We got to meet Chase (from Paw Patrol) and his handler was really friendly. They had a small conversation with each child before encouraging them to pose for a picture. The handler takes a professional photo, but you are allowed to take pictures too. You can buy the photo at the end in the shop, but we found the couple of pictures they had taken were over exposed so it was an easy choice not to buy them on this occasion.

We visited on an off peak day which advertised the meet and greet with Chase at 11 and I think 1.15. At peak times they might have more characters, but you'll never know who you are going to see before you visit.

3 year old holding hands with Paw Patrol's chase in a meet and greet at Lakeside
My 3 year old was in absolutely awe of Chase when he met him


What Age is Nickelodeon Adventure Lakeside Good For?

Children who enjoy role play and creating adventures will love Nickelodeon Adventure, especially if they are big fans of Paw Patrol, SpongeBob SquarePants or TMNT.  If they are under 90cm they might not get much out of it (which is why it’s free entry for them) and children over 120cm can go on the Boat School and Flying Ninjas on their own, but any older than 8 and I think they would get bored quickly, but they advertise it as suitable for ages 3 to 11.

I would recommend Nickelodeon Adventure to children age 3 to 6 and it's a good place to meet friends so they can enjoy playing with someone. 

I would suggest a ratio of at least 1 adult to 1 child if you want to go on the Boat School ride or Flying Ninjas because otherwise it would mean leaving the other child unaccompanied. Also as children need to be over 1 metre to go in the 4D cinema you wouldn’t be able to take younger siblings in if you have 1 adult and 2 (or more) children.

How to Find Nickelodeon Adventure at Lakeside

Nickelodeon Adventure is on the outside of the Lakeside Shopping Centre, in The Quay area, but not write on the waterfront. If you are in the shopping centre you can easily get there if you leave via the exit next to Hamleys or the exits on M&S food. You then go round to the right past PuttShack, Creams and opposite the outdoor gym you’ll spot it. If you are driving the nearest car parks are 10 and 12.


Useful Information to Know When Visiting Nickelodeon Adventure

  • Everyone over 11 is currently expected to wear a face mask (at time of publishing).
  • There are small lockers on the left as you go into Adventure Bay, these take £1 (returnable), you can also leave pushchairs (unsecured) in this area.
  • The toilets are next to the cafe, there is only one area of toilets, but as it's not very big I think you could easily run from the furthest point of the attraction with a newly potty trained child if necessary.
  • Children under 90cm are free (because of the limited amount they can go on).
  • There are height limits on a few of the activities for going on and for going on alone. At the Flying Ninja's, Sponge Bob's Boating School Blast and at the 4D cinema they will measure children before they go on the ride.
  • Children under 1m can’t go in the 4D cinema.
  • They are currently encouraging prebooking (it's discounted a day in advance online too) but you can just turn up, especially off peak.
  • You get emailed your tickets which contain a QR code which is scanned on entrance, but this can be done from your phone, you don't need to print it out.
  • The time slot is for 2 1/2 hours, although we went at an off peak time and weren't given wristbands or anything so I don't think we would have been asked to leave.

There are lockers which take one pound and an unsecured area for pushchairs at Nickelodeon Adventure
The locker area and buggy park

The cafe area is inside the attraction and it sells coffees, slushies and more
The cafe

We were there at 10am as it opened and a few of the things weren’t open straight away, but given everywhere is struggling with staff shortages at the moment I don’t know if that is normal or not, by 10.30 it was all go.

Do you have to pay extra for activities?
The entrance fee covers all the activities. You might choose to spend additional money in the cafe, on photos and in the shop (which are obviously all optional).

Can you bring your own food and drink?
If you don’t want to buy food or drink in the cafe make sure you eat before you go in, you can only eat or drink in the cafe and they don’t encourage you to bring your own food/ drink.

The cafe had Starbucks coffee, slushies, sandwiches, ice lollies and more. The main reason we didn’t buy anything is we would need to sit in the cafe while it was consumed because you shouldn’t wonder around with drinks. I think this is a good idea to prevent spillages, but even with a slush drink I think my son would lose interest after 5 minutes and want to run off. 

What's the address of Nickelodeon Adventure?
612 The Quay,
Thurrock intu Lakeside Shopping Centre,
West Thurrock
Grays
Essex RM20 2AD

Disclosure: we paid for our visit and all thoughts are my own.

Review of Nickelodeon Adventure at Lakeside in Essex
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2 comments

  1. This is a fantastic review. My parents are taking my 5 year old here on the weekend and I'm not entirely sure if he'll get much out of it. He used to be a huge Paw Patrol fan but prefers other characters now. But I will definitely refer back to this review when my 20 month old is a bit older and reaches peak Paw Patrol fandom.

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    1. Oh I would love to hear what he thinks of it. The Paw Patrol area is small, but the other bits should interest him more. I'm planning to take my 5 year old at some point, but I think the difference between how she sees it and my 3 year old will be huge.

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