Adventure Island: England’s Top Free-Admission Fun Park
When choosing a theme parks around London, know that Adventure Island is always free to enter: visitors only have to pay for rides or buy wristbands that allow them onto ride packages.
Located on the seaside about 40 miles east of central London, it’s the farthest theme park from the city, but still suitable for a day trip. The park used to be known as Peter Pan’s Playground, and many locals still call it “Pan’s.”
The rides and attractions
Adventure Island divides its rides and attractions according to different age and size groups: Big Adventure Rides, Junior Rides and Mini Rides. There are about ten rides in each category – including four roller coasters – so no one should get bored too quickly. They’ve also got mini-golf, bumper cars, little racers, rock-climbing walls and a water fight attraction to round out their offerings. A big part of the fun will be just wandering about, as long as the weather is decent.
Adventure Island is open year round; in summer it’s open every day, but otherwise opens only on weekends. The park always opens at 11am and closes, depending on the time of year, between 5pm and 10pm. The wristbands that allow you admittance to rides are half-price during the final hours of the day. See the site’s Opening Times page.
Prices for rides
As mentioned, admission to the park itself is free, so this is a good option for families who might not be committed to an expensive full-day experience. Individual ride tickets can be bought for £1.60 each, but far more popular are the wristbands that allow unlimited rides within the appropriate classification. The first two wristband options also include free rides for an accompanying person age 14+, so this a fairly inexpensive option for families with younger children.
- Mini Band (for riders under 1 meter): £10
- Junior Band (riders 1 meter to 1.2 meters): £15
- Big Adventure Band (riders 1.2 meters and up): £22
Discounts are always available
Adventure Park has certain weekdays outside of summer and weekends in winter that are considered “off-peak” and the bands are all 3 or 4 pounds cheaper on those days. In addition, you can save £1.50, £3, and £5 respectively on the bands if you buy them online in advance on the official Adventure Island online booking site.
Getting there by car
From the M25 ring road just take either Junction 29 (A127) or Junction 30 (A13) eastwards towards Southend. As you approach Southend, look for the brown tourist road signs. Adventure Island is clearly marked on these. Follow signs to the Seafront.
Getting there by train
If you are staying in or near central London you’ll need to get to either the Liverpool Street Station, which is connected to the tube system, or the Fenchurch Street Station, which isn’t on the tube, but is very close to the Tower Hill tube stop. From either of these train stations you can get a direct ticket to either Southend Central or Southend Victoria stations, which are both walking distance to the park. The journey will take about one hour, and return fares are around £14 for adults.
Free rail travel offer
From March through the end of October, when you buy a full-price wristband at a train station, you get free return rail tickets for the journey. More information is available on their Rail Offer page.