Rainy days on holiday especially when you’re camping aren’t fun. Yes you can still go on the beach but once your children get older it holds recipe in the wet. So when we knew we were going to get a wet morning I went on the search for somewhere to visit in north Devon that was largely indoor. The Milky Way Adventure Park near Bideford sounded perfect.
The Milky Way Adventure Park isn’t the smartest place, it’s a bit tired. But it does the job in keeping children entertained. With 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space you don’t need to get wet, but can still have fun. We headed there just after opening in case it was rammed due to the weather, but because of the size it wasn’t too busy when we first arrived.
It did take a while to get through the ticket line but that was largely because each family was being told information about the place and the new rides. Personally I’d have preferred just to be given a map and the really key points we needed to know rather than all the blurb which take ages to get through the queue.
The Milky Way is based on a space theme and there’re different areas of activities throughout the site. Both indoors and out there’s plenty to see and do for all ages, although there’s a real focus on under fives. Primary age children are also well catered for. There were plenty of teenage siblings enjoying the larger rides when we were there though.
N usually likes big rides but this time he wasn’t that bothered about going on most. He does love the dodgems though and we had a go at that with him now being tall enough to go in on his own for the first time. The Milky Way cope with the different age groups really well for the dodgems, with older children over their height limit able to go on a faster session. As soon as a younger child hits the front of the queue they change the session to a younger one where all under 18s have to sit in with an adult. This makes it a lot better for younger children not having to be rammed by older ones mucking about.
Other rides include 2 roller coasters, one is a caterpillar ride which is much smaller for younger children and a larger one with more twists and turns for children over a certain height. N opted for the smaller one which I was surprised about. But he obviously wasn’t up for being thrown around that day.
There’s a new indoor ride called Ziggy’s Blast Quest which is a stand-up scooter style ride where are you blast laser shots at things. This is a new ride for this year and you get given tickets for your first ride. This means that anyone riding first time round jumps the queue ahead of those going back for a return go. I managed to get N to agree to have a go on this but the queue was still over 30 minutes long and we decided we didn’t want to wait around. It looks a lot of fun though.
There’s also a train which goes around the site.
The whole point of going to the Milky Way in the rain was for the soft play. Surprisingly N decided he didn’t want to go on it. The area and frame was huge with a great bumpy slide and a couple of drop slides. Plenty of room to keep a lot of children entertained and when we first put our heads in, it wasn’t too busy. By the time we left it was teeming with children. There are pockets for children to leave their shoes in and a reasonable number of seats for parents to keep a watch on children. There’s also a small refreshment area. It’s certainly a great place on a wet day to keep the kids entertained.
Quite often places don’t really cater for younger children separately but the Milky Way do it really well. As well as indoor play areas which included small soft play plus a balloon area, there’s also the Little Stars building which has a cafe and more play areas, which are strictly for under fives only. There’re also the bouncy pillows outside, one of which is for under fives. So they’re very well catered for.
We didn’t stop in at any of the shows as N was being a bit moody, but throughout the day the Milky Way put on different displays and shows. There is a main theatre which had a Galaxy Space Show on when we were there and also a falconry display indoors. There is a falconry area outside but as it was wet they had brought it inside. There were another couple of different shows at other times so you just need to check the board for showtimes when you arrive.
Other activities at the Milky Way
Once you get outside there are other activities to enjoy. The bouncy pillows are always a big draw and they were popular when we were there. N spent ages on the larger one which was for over 5s with a smaller one alongside for younger children.
There’s also a huge slide – the Gravity Rider – which N had initially decided he wanted to go on, but when he saw it decided it wasn’t for him. For this you sit on rubber rings to go down and it looked great fun.
In dry weather you can also play crazy golf. Inside are paid activities which include archery with a bit of tuition, and pottery painting.
There’s also a bit of a random vintage farm machinery display. I’m not entirely sure why, but if you’ve got farming fans that’s something else for them to enjoy.
The maze was fairly easy to do and as you went through there are little space themed activities for kids to try out and look silly, as well as a guess the dog from the clues posters. When you get to the middle there’s a massive Tubular Bells style chimes where you can play some tunes. I quite enjoyed the maze and we just beat the rain coming down again.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, there’s a hall of costumes and characters of all sorts. We’re not really big on Star Wars, but N still found it really interesting spotting the characters he recognised. The R2D2 models were our favourite – he spotted the Lego version straight away.
We didn’t see all of the restaurants, as there are a several. One which is more of a sit-down restaurant but we went to the Galaxy cafe which overlooks the soft play. It’s a large area to sit in so there shouldn’t be a problem finding somewhere to sit, but the food wasn’t the most exciting. It’s basic fast food on offer, but the sandwich choice was not brilliant. Our baguettes were a little undercooked and the filling choice was limited. The milkshakes were the highlight of our meal. There are plenty of places to sit and eat your own food, so I’d probably recommend taking a picnic or try the main restaurant.
Overall we had a great morning out at the Milky Way, despite N not wanting to go on a lot of the things. We didn’t make the most of our entrance fee because there’s so much there to do. But I’d recommend it if you’re staying nearby and have a rainy day.
Have you ever been to the Milky Way adventure park or can you recommend other adventure parks in the area?