Adventure Island

Adventure Island bills itself as the UK’s number one free admission theme park, a claim which is probably not far from the truth; if only due to the lack of free theme parks in the United Kingdom. Adventure Island makes money by charging per ride, rather than a full entry fee, with most rides costing around L1.60. Wristbands can be purchased which allow access to many of the most popular rides, with off-peak wristbands costing L7 and on peak costing L10.

Adventure IislandThe park is in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, on the south west coast of England. The majority of the park overlooks the sea, and it is this that gave it its initial theme, which was based on a seafaring, piracy feel when it opened in 1976. Back then it was known as Peter Pan’s Playground, but after an expansion on its east side in 1995 the name was updated to Peter Pan’s Adventure Island, with the additions of rides such as Rage and Sky Drop. Up until the early 2000s it kept this name, but it was then felt that the Peter Pan theme was an inaccurate reflection of the overall strengths of the park. The name was scaled down to simply Adventure Island.

Despite the frequent name changes the park has been known to locals for some time, and still is, as “Peter Pan’s”, or even just “Pan’s”. The reason for the Peter Pan theme is obvious when you take into account the names of some of its past rides like “Mr Smee’s Boat Ride”, “Pirate Galleon” and “Blackbeard’s Pirate Adventure”. Times have changed though, and it is now the fashion to go for big rollercoasters. The people behind Adventure Island are aware of this, and therefore the park is home to four roller coasters.

The most famous of these rides is “Rage”, which opened in February 2007. A walk along the seafront in Southend will make clear what a part Rage plays in the edifice of the town, as it dominates the horizon giving it most of its color – indeed, much of its walk-up custom comes from people who have seen it from a distance and want to go to Adventure Island just for a closer look, and to experience it first hand.

Rage cost three million pounds to build (that is just over four and a quarter million dollars), and its building involved the moving of two of the park’s most famous rides, Sky Drop and Vortex. It stands at 75ft high, its biggest drop is 97 degrees. There is a straight vertical lift, one vertical loop and a Zero G roll. Although short, the ride is very intense and is one that will grab the attention of the thrill seeker in you.

If travelling from London, your best bet is to take the M25 to Junction 29 or Junction 30. As you are approaching Southend, the familiar brown signs that point you to tourist destinations will begin to point towards Adventure Island. Just follow these as far as the seafront – once you reach it, there is no missing Adventure Island.