I have a list of places I want to take N to see, but he turns his nose up at a lot of them. I know he’ll like them once he’s there, but of course, the idea of ‘educational’ places that his mum says are fun, don’t always go down well. N has started saying he gets bad dreams about war and bombing so even though I’ve assured him that the world wars were over years ago, he still didn’t want to go to a local military event. Instead we plucked Gulliver’s Land out as a day out for the end of September.
I’ve never been although I’d not heard great things about it. N went to the Dino land and farm next door to it, on a school trip and loved it. So I decided that the price was worth trying given it wasn’t too far to travel. It turned out to be a good choice, and was worth the money. We paid the on the gate price of £21 each, and for a theme park (even a small one) I didn’t think that was bad.
Gulliver’s Land Milton Keynes is a small theme park largely aimed at primary age children. Most of the rides are suitable from 90cm up, with children over 120cm able to ride many rides on their own, with the rest requiring an adult to go on with them until they’re 140cm tall.
The park is split into various different ‘lands’ although it all blurred into one for us. Not all were defined and because it was a small park, it’s easy to move around from one area to the next. The signposts seemed to be missing the actual signs so we weren’t always totally sure which area we were in.
We started in the JCB zone. As it was early, it felt a bit ‘dead’ walking round. Not all the rides had staff visible when we walked past so it was hard to know which was open, and we struggled with a few diggers that didn’t seem to work. But for digger fans, there’s plenty to have a go on, or ride, and N could have spent a lot longer there. It wasn’t busy as we headed there first thing, but I could see it getting busier and needing to queue for the diggers in school holidays.
There’s also soft play if it’s wet, in the JCB area. Unfortunately we couldn’t find golf clubs anywhere so we didn’t get the chance to play on the mini golf course.
It wasn’t really warm enough when we were there to go on the log flume or water slides, or anything that got you really wet. But N loved the gentle jungle river ride – so much, we had to go on it twice. I just thought it was comedy watching the ride staff trying to get visitors to listen and actually spread the weight of the adults across the donuts!
Several areas have more of a theme – Lilliput Land, with the castle rides were one, with the Western land being another. We enjoyed the laser shooting western ride and the jousting castles were pretty cool. The roller coasters are just big enough for children to get a thrill but not too tame for adults not to enjoy them. I think my days of big roller coasters are over compared with how much I used to love them.
The bonus is we only queued more than 5 minutes for 1 ride – the chair monorail and that’s because you’re relying on everyone’s legs getting them around. Let’s just say, never again. Although at least mine didn’t ache the day after, but getting down the stairs after finishing was a bit jelly legs!
Back to basics
Sometimes you want to take things easier, and heading for the maze fitted that brief. N was straight in there. For adults some areas you can see over the hedges, so it’s not too scary if you’re worried about getting stranded. It’s not huge, but just enough for children to enjoy spotting the old wooden shields without having to spend ages finding your way out again.
There are also various play areas spread around. N walked straight past the wooden play fort on a mission to get to the next ride, so we didn’t make use of these. But they’re a good way to get younger children involved if they’re not big enough for rides.
Eating at Gulliver’s Land
There are plenty of picnic tables and benches at Gulliver’s Land if you bring your own food. I also spotted some people eating their picnic inside the food hall which I thought was a bit of a cheek if you’re not buying anything, but it wasn’t overcrowded so didn’t matter too much.
I’d expected a big restaurant when we entered the food hall but it’s actually several fast food options where you pay at each. We hadn’t realised how many options there were, so walk round to decide rather than just heading for the one you first spot like we did. I think it’d be good to have a sign outside saying what types of foods are sold in there before you head inside, and I’m not sure what the queuing systems would be like at busy times of year.
We opted for burgers – several burger options, and if you say no to any of the additional sauce or salad, they make it fresh. We both had a cheese burger meal which came with fries (or children can opt for veg sticks) and a drink. My burger was unexpectedly delicious – well worth the £6.50ish it cost for the meal, although it was a little small for big appetites.
We bought ice creams from the sandwich counter, and there were other hot meal options.
By the entrance of the park there’s also a pizza place, and there were sweet shops as well. None of the kiosks were open as it’s out of school holidays, so I expect there’s more options available over the summer.
We spent a good 3 ½ hours at the park before my headache was pounding too much and we headed off home.
As well as the rides, there’s a theatre with several shows through the day. And you can get discounted entry to Dino Land place next door if you want to visit the two.
What could have been improved
I have to admit, looking back at the website, we missed a lot of rides and seemingly a whole area. I would have liked each area to be more clearly defined, and it easier to find your way around. I took a photo of the map to refer to, but it didn’t seem to tally with where we were (I’m a former geographer so I should know my way round a map). Signposts would be good, or even coloured lines on the paths to tell you which way you’re going or which area you’re in.
Tied in with that, making it clearer on the websites what is situated where. It was confusing whether the dinosaur and farm place was in the same site. And N really wanted to do the Nerf blast, but we couldn’t work out where it was, having assumed it was at Gulliver’s Land. But nowhere on site did the adverts say it was at the Dino Land. Clearer details and directions for each of the websites would be better!
The darkness of the food hall seems over excessive. It’s pretty with twinkly fairy lights, but it’s not the nicest experience to eat food in.
What we loved about Gulliver’s Land
1, How little we had to queue – could just be a bonus of being outside peak season, although it was dry and a weekend
2, The variety of rides. There’s something for everyone and it’s great that most children can go on everything
3, It’s good value – for £21 each for over 90cms, you can stay all day for that price, and there’s very little addition costs on top of that.
4, Even the overflow car parks are only over the road, and you don’t have to pay extra for them.
5, Yes it’s a bit old and tired which was probably more noticeable because it wasn’t sunny and packed, but everyone was having a great time. It’s nice to see everyone so happy.
Yes, it’s not got all the showiness of the bigger theme parks, but if you want to take the children out for a day to a place with suitable sized rides and shorter if non-existent queues, it’s worth a visit. And if you’re not in Milton Keynes, there are other Gulliver’s parks in the group around the country.
Have you ever been to Gullivers Land? Where’s your favourite theme park?
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