Review: Adventure Island Theme Park in Southend, Essex

Adventure Island makes for a really fun day out for all the family. With a mixture of theme park rides, arcades, soft play, food, drink and the CityWheel (big ferris wheel) allowing you to take in the fantastic view along Southend seafront, there’s so much to keep you entertained. Whether you are looking for some of the best thrill rides in Essex or a day out with little ones Adventure Island is worth a visit.

View of Southend on sea beach and view of adventure island theme park
What you need to know before visiting Adventure Island

Visiting Southend’s Adventure Island

Why Adventure Island is great to visit with children:

  • Adventure Island has nearly 40 rides and attractions. 
  • There are rides for little ones like Flying Jumbo elephants as well as Rage (a big rollercoaster with a vertical drop and upside down spin), water rides and pirate ship. 
  • If you are visiting with younger children you can accompany them on rides without having to pay for yourself.
  • Once you’ve taken in some rides, there are plenty of food choices. 
  • Wristbands include access to Adventure Inside which has more rides, soft play and arcade games. 
  • Finish up with a paddle at the beach. There is a small sandy climbing frame and sheltered beach for the little ones and head to the main beach if you have bigger children to look for sea glass and dip your toes in the water.

view of Rage rollercoaster in Adventure Island
Rollercoasters and thrill rides at Adventure Island

What Is There To Do At Adventure Island?

Adventure Island is right next to the beach at Southend-On-Sea. They claim they are "The World's Number 1 Free Entry Fun Park" and while you can walk around for free you will need to spend money to go on any rides.

Adventure Island Rides

There are different height limits for the rides at Adventure Island and most rides require children under 120cm to be accompanied by an adult.

11 of the rides have no minimum height requirement (if children are accompanied). These include the Flying Jumbos, Big Wheel and a train as well as a Kiddi-Koaster which is great for a first time roller coaster experience.

Another 8 rides have a minimum height of 100cm including several roller coasters.

From 120cm you can go on 5 more rides and 2 tidal wave water slides that you go down in a dingy (clothed). There are some good thrill rides including Ramba Zamba, Skydrop, a high chair swing and Rage (a roller coaster which goes upside down).

Axis is only suitable for riders 10 and up and between 130cm and 190 cm.

You can find full information on the rides at Adventure Island here including the height requirements

What is Adventure Inside?

Adventure Inside is an indoor area of Adventure Island. It has different opening hours and it is open all year round, even on days the outside rides are closed. Adventure Inside is mainly a huge soft play across 6 levels. Children 10 and under can go in the soft play. Those under 100cm need to be accompanied by an adult and it recommended those under 120cm are accompanied by an adult (16 plus).

There is also a smaller soft play area for babies and toddlers (under 4s). Children must be accompanied.

Adventure Inside also has 4 rides including a pirate ship and carousel as well as arcade machines

What Age is Adventure Island Good For?

Adventure Island is great for a variety of ages making it a brilliant family trip. We have enjoyed visiting the park with the children at different ages. The soft play is available for children 10 years and younger. It is very large and some areas are big so an adult will need to go in with them. There are rides suitable for the little ones and an adult rides for free with the child (child must be under 120cm). As they get older they can be more adventurous with the rides available. There are different height requirements for the rides so this can play a factor in what they can go on, however my 8 year old was tall enough to go on Rage (their scariest roller coaster). 

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

Most areas have pushchair access and the indoor area has a lift allowing you to get between the 2 levels. However there are rides that are only assessable via stairs so you either need an adult to stay with the buggy or you have to leave it unsupervised which I wouldn’t advise as it can get very busy. The stairs for certain rides also make it difficult for those with mobility issues.

View of Adventure Inside and Adventure Island on Southend's beach
Adventure Island includes an indoor Adventure Inside area with large soft play

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Adventure Island

Tips for Adventure Island

  • Our top tip would be get there early if you can. It’s much quieter around opening meaning queues for the rides are super quick (and sometimes non-existent). 
  • You can often get wristbands at a discounted rate if you buy them through school PTA’s so check with your school to see if they offer them.
  • Take drinks and snacks. There’s lots of food and drink to buy but it is expensive so save your money for lunch or dinner and provide your own snacks. 
  • Take some change for the arcades inside and save the soft play until last so the children can use up the last of their energy.
  • If you are accompanying your child under 120cm you can ride for free (the chaperone must be 14+). This is great because if you are visiting with young kids, and you won’t get to go on any big rides yourself, you don’t have to pay for you.
  • There are toilets and baby changing facilities available throughout the park.

Adventure Island Opening Times 2024

You can check out the opening times for the day you plan to visit here. The indoor Adventure Inside is open everyday (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day) from 11am and closing between 4 and 10pm. The rides open from midday and the soft play can close an hour before the rest of Adventure Inside on late closing nights

Adventure Island is completely closed between mid November and mid February. The rest of the year it is open at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays. It normally opens at 11am and they say to check the website on the day for the closing time.

Outside rides may be temporarily closed in heavy rain or strong winds due to safety requirements.

Adventure Island Tickets and Discounts

It is free to go into Adventure Island, but you need a ticket, wristband or pass to go on any rides (unless accompanying a child under 120cm).

You can get annual passes which work out as good value if you will go three or more times. If you decide you want to get an annual pass after your visit you can upgrade within 30 days if you keep your receipt and wristband and the previous price is discounted.

Tickets on the gate currently cost £28 per person, but advanced purchase on their website normally costs £26 (but at time of writing is £24).

When they are open late (which can be up to 10pm on peak summer days) entry is half price after 5pm. It costs £14 and they are available on the gate.

An annual pass costs £56 per person. It is valid for 12 months and although the outside rides aren’t open all year round Adventure Inside is open everyday except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A few shops and many PTAs sell wristbands for a discount. If your school doesn’t and you live in Essex it’s worth asking on a local Facebook group if anyone locally is selling them for their PTA.

Blue Peter Badge Winners can get buy one get one free on wristbands.

A 40% "Life Saver" discount is available for NHS Staff, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and army personnel on presentation of photo ID (not a blue light card).

The wheels at Adventure Island give a great view over Southend and the coast
City Wheel and Big Wheel at Adventure Island in Essex

Is Adventure Island Dog Friendly?

Adventure Island isn’t dog friendly. Service dogs are allowed.

Eating at Adventure Island

There are lots of food outlets throughout the park offering anything from slushies, candy floss, burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, hot and cold drinks. There are also restaurants on site - Feelgoods Diner is super fun and has singing waiters and waitresses (who are brilliant!) and the pizzas are delicious - I highly recommend. They do cater for certain food allergies and have vegan and gluten free options too. You can see an allergen menu online, but confirm details with the restaurants.

A pizza on a pizza box bought at a diner in Southend's Adventure Island
There are plenty of food options at Adventure Island

What to take to Adventure Island

If you want to keep to a budget consider bring drinks and snacks (a small coca-cola is £3.25). They ask you to eat your own food in the designated picnic areas. 

As it’s on the beach, take a hand towel then you can go for a paddle and dry and dust off your toes after.

Getting To Adventure Island

Address: Adventure Island, Sunken Garden, Western Esplanade, Southend on Sea, Essex SS1 1EE

It’s very easy to find along the seafront and there are a number of entrances you can use to enter the park.

Adventure Island is walking distance from Southend Central station (walk down the high street) and it is also on several bus routes.

Parking for Adventure Island

If you are planning to drive then you will need to plan additional budget for parking. There isn’t any parking on site, but there is lots of parking in Southend.  There is pay and display (or app) parking along the seafront but it can get busy.  Parking in town away from the coast tends to be cheaper eg The Royals Shopping Centre car park. 

What Is There To Do Nearby Adventure Island?

Find out all the best things to do with children in Southend in this post.

  • Adventure Golf is on one end of the Adventure Island site. If you have an annual pass to Adventure Island or Sealife Adventure you can get 50% off. 
  • The Sealife Adventure - Zooquarium (aka Southend Aquarium) is a short walk away from Adventure Island.  Read all about visiting here.
  • There is plenty more to visit in Southend too. You could walk the pier, visit the beach, take the vintage cliff lift, head into town for a spot of shopping or head to Tomassi’s for a fantastic ice cream sundae.
  • At the far end of the High Street you can find the free Southend Central Museum which includes a planetarium with shows you have to prebook, you can find out more here.
  • Hadleigh Castle is about 20 minutes away, you can explore the free remains of the castle and have great views over the estuary.
  • If you are interested in travelling a little further and visiting our recommendations for the best theme parks in the UK for young children check out this post.
You might also be interested in these posts for things to do in Southend:

The Adventure Island review is based on the recommendation and photos provided by Charlotte who is on Instagram as @the_wolf_mother_project

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