Adventure Park Geelong
If you’ve never been to the Adventure Park in Geelong then don’t jump to conclusions – it might be completely different to what you were expecting!
When: From late October through to mid April, (166 days a year to be precise) click here to go to the calendar of days and times.
Where: 1249 Bellarine Hwy, Wallington, Geelong. Click here for map.
Cost: Children under 90cm enter free with paying adult, children 90-120cm $28 and adults $38. There are also options for groups, parties, holiday programs and seasons pass (at $75 pretty good value if you plan to go more than twice).
I have a confession to make. I thought the Adventure Park was the place I used to look at when I was a kid as we drove through Geelong on our way to Lorne. Thank goodness Google Maps didn’t take us there. Thank goodness Google Maps took us to the real Adventure Park – which is absolutely nothing like what I had pictured in my mind!! Sure there are a few water-slides… but OMG there is no comparison. I hope that I have helped to bust that myth to anyone else out there who might have been mistaken like I was.
It is difficult to see too much from the road – but as you come into the car-park for the first time (and maybe every subsequent time – I will have to test that out!) prepare yourself for the squeals of delight from the back seat. The ticket boxes are shaped like beach boxes and my first impression was everything was impressively new, clean and well maintained.
So you can picture our day – it was 36C and the crowd was 3,000+ (a hot busy day).
We had a Cabana booked, so when we arrived we were directed to Guest Services – a little office inside the ticket gates. It felt almost like we were checking into a resort – we were handed a map and pointed in the direction of Cabana 9 – another staff member would meet us there to help settle us in! Our little party included myself, Immi (7), Charlie (4), a friend, her husband and their daughter Madison (9). The Cabana provided a fantastic base for the day – in fact without it I doubt we would have lasted from 10am start to 5pm finish.
The Cabana came with an esky-table which was filled with ice and bottles of water – we added our own picnic supplies to the esky and everything remained frosty for the duration of the day. The Cabana’s aren’t cheap ($79.95) but if you have a few children, especially young ones, it’s brilliant to have a space out of the sun to yourself. That said the Adventure Park is filled with an abundance of fantastic shaded options and if you get there first thing you can even score yourself a lounge under a sunshade overlooking the main water playground called Bonito’s Bay. The Cabana’s are not secure (ie when you’re not there there is no way to lock up) but I think because there are people around and everyone is generally leaving their towels and things around there is a calculated risk in leaving your stuff. That said we pooled all our precious stuff (handbags, phones, camera) and hired a locker for the day – it was $10 for peace of mind and its key pad entry meant my friend and I could both access it when we needed to.
Anyway enough about the Cabana – you want to know about the rides!!
Charlie (4) and the two bigger girls started off in the Tiny Tots waterplay area – our Cabana was next to Tiny Tots so this was a great spot for our ‘home’ for the day. We then tried out Bonito’s Bay waterplay area – which is another playground but much bigger with three bigger water-slides and a host of other water activities (think water cannons, spouts, fountains etc). This playground was hugely popular and pretty crazy – thankfully Charlie is old enough to navigate his way around, so I wasn’t freaking out when I regularly lost sight of him – but I am not so sure I’d be as relaxed if he was a toddler. I guess if he was a toddler we’d have spent most of our time at the Tiny Tots playground.
One of the first things the kids wanted to do was try out the River Torrent Lazy River – a man made river that circumnavigates the Tiny Tots, Bonito’s Bay and Aqua Racer area of the park. You grab a floating ring and drift along – it’s a very mild ride and Charlie (who is about 115cm) could stand – the water came up to his chest – so it didn’t matter if you fell off or wanted to change positions. The water wasn’t particularly warm or cold – but it was crystal clear and the ‘ride’ seemed like it could only be a few years old, at most. It was 36C and I was happy to be wet and barely moving for a twenty minutes! (We did four laps without stopping.)
Where ever we went in the Park there were loads of staff – who were all very friendly and helpful. Charlie tripped over when clambering (probably running) on one of the waterplay areas and cut his chin – Bruce at First Aid patched him up and then produced an icy-pole. The tears were brushed aside and a big bandaged grin appeared. I loved Bruce right then. Bruce’s bandage came adrift later on and we were on the other side of the park so we popped into the other First Aid – and got patched up again from another delightful staff member (she got bonus points for her superior band aid applying skills).
Neither of my kids have a particularly good track record with water-slides – we’ve visited GESAC a number of times and Charlie has resisted even going down the rather small slide on their water playground. So I didn’t have high expectations for our day when it came to the water slides. Charlie wouldn’t even go on the Lazy River ride until right at the end of the day… but while I (and the ten people queued up behind me) tried to figure out how to use the locker for the first time, Immi and Madison had a turn on the Aqua Racer – the scariest water-slide at the Park. So Immi was fine – she and Madison had multiple goes on the Wild West Canyon and Gold Rush Rapids slides while Charlie sat on the side watching.
After much coaxing Charlie decided to give Wild West Canyon a go – full of bravado he helped me carry the inflatable raft up the path and then up the stairs to the top. It finally got to our turn and he took one look down the tunnel of the slide with water rushing down it and turned to flee. Like a professional hostage negotiator, and after three more attempts, I got him in the raft and to the mouth of the slide and we were off. I was lying down with him lying on top of me and we swirled our way down and arrived with a splash at the bottom (me squealing most of the way). He was out of the water in a flash (I was still legs akimbo tangled in the raft) and turned to me and yelled “THAT WAS AWESOME” and then bolted to the front of the que… clearly he had faced his fear – he had four more turns before the day was over, the last turn sitting in the raft with his sister.
The kids also had a turn on the Electric Cars, the newest ride the Wave Swinger (one of those spinning things with swings attached), the paddle boats and the jumping castle. And even though we were there all day – we still didn’t do everything!
At the end of the day I faced my fear and raced Immi on the Aqua Racer before we showered, dressed, packed up our Cabana and headed for home – knackered! We stopped in Geelong for a fish and chip dinner and before we even got to the freeway they were both fast asleep.
- Sunscreen. And next time I am investing in a rashie and board shorts for me – I am just not one of those people who enjoys just hanging in my bathers and nothing else all day even if it is 36C. I envy those people.
- Eating options are a bit limited – definitely pack your own lunch. If you are using one of the picnic areas you can also hire a BBQ ($25) which is portable or use one of the electric coin operated ones (click here for information) but you can’t use a BBQ in a Cabana.
- If you want to secure a Cabana best to book ahead, if they are still available you can hire them on the day.
- If you have toddlers then I would highly recommend having a ratio of adult to toddler of 1:1, Charlie is four and now old enough to sit and wait – but a year ago I could have never trusted him to do that while I took Immi on a ride he wasn’t interested in. That said Immi is now old enough to do most of the rides alone, so it was all possible for us thankfully. The only ride I wouldn’t let either of them do without an adult by their side was the Lazy River – although I would probably now let Immi go with a friend as there are numerous staff dotted along the river bank who were keeping check on things and Immi can swim (and it’s really shallow – I guess my anxiety is that I wouldn’t be able to see her until she’d done the full lap).
- We arrived at 10am, opening time, and already the first car-park was half full – on hot weekends it seems people get there before opening to get their favourite spots around the park.
- We noticed a few groups of people having birthdays – not official parties organised by the venue, but clearly it was a birthday wish that the whole family could enjoy.
- By the time you add up the Cabana, the tickets, the locker and some ice-creams it can seem like an expensive day out. But I reckon it’s a whole lot easier than a trip to Queensland (and a whole lot cheaper!) and it’s only an hour and a quarter drive from Melbourne.
- We attended on one of the busy days and the longest we waited for anything was ten minutes – it’s no surprise that the Gold Rush Rapids, Wild West Canyon and Aqua Racer slides are the most popular on such a hot day. I expected it to be crowded like the Melbourne Show – but I guess given it’s there 166 days of the year, there are world class beaches down the road and tickets for a family adds up: the crowd was manageable. Don’t get me wrong there were people everywhere, but I never felt crowded
We were thrilled to attend as guests of the Adventure Park Geelong.