Wicksteed Park – Your Complete Guide

Wicksteed Park

I can remember going to Wicksteed Park when I was just a child, so it feels a little strange when I take my two (now 4 and 5) there. In fact, Wicksteed Park has been around for so long – since 1921, to be precise – which makes it the oldest theme park on mainland UK.

And although times have clearly changed, some of the rides from my childhood remain, evoking a fond homely feeling. I found my heart warming watching my two beaming and bouncing around, whilst simultaneously getting lost in memories of little me running about. TBH it makes me a little emotional to think life has gone full circle.

If you’re local or within an hour or so drive, I’d recommend visiting. And if you want more ideas, try this mega post of family things to do in Northampton.

^Wicksteed Park in 30 seconds!^

What is Wicksteed Park?

It’s essentially an outside space primarily geared to children. Wondering what age Wicksteed Park is for? I’d say it’s ideal for age 3 – 8. There are rides for both young and older children, spread out over four main zones. There’s a huge playground, aviary, tree top walk and lots of green space for walks, games and picnics.

Wicksteed Park is on a large plot, so bring a buggy or carrier if your little ones aren’t a fan of walking a big distance. On my last visit I ended up having to carry my 3 year old for a bit, which is hard work when you’re going uphill and carrying a bulky bag of snacks and supplies!

The Park

Wicksteed Park is split into four zones; ‘Splash’, ‘Heritage’, ‘Thrill’ and ‘Adventure’. Apart from Heritage and Adventure, they are spread quite far apart. If you have young ones like me, I’d recommend making a bit of a plan before you go.

For example, if it’s due to rain in the afternoon, head to Splash Zone in the morning, so they have a chance to dry off or perhaps save that bit for the afternoon if you’re going to be wet anyway.

Or, if there’s only one ride of interest in a particular zone, head there first while they’re willing to walk.

Tip: Take a screenshot of the map as there aren’t too many onsite. Earmark which rides you think your children will want to go on, so you know where to head.

The Rides

There are rides in all four zones. You can find a full list of the rides here.

Adventure Zone

During our last visit, my then 3 and 5 year old spent most of the day in the Adventure Zone. Partly, because it has more rides than the other areas, but also because there are a lot geared for their age.

The bulk of the time was on the indoor Astroslide. You know the one. You grab a mat, race to the top and whizz down on the six lane, bumpy slide. Riders under 1m need to be accompanied by an adult, so I had a massive work out taking my 3 year old on and trying to keep up with my 5 year old. I have to admit, it was fun though – we were all giggling as we raced down again and again!

My 5 year old is obsessed with animals so we spent a decent chunk in Meerkat Manor and did two lengthy loops of the aviary – mostly enthralled by the talking parrot.

They also did two back to back rides on the Cups and Saucers and about five turns on the Clown Coaster!

Heritage Zone

My daredevil 3 year old loves Sway Rider. It’s a twist on the carousel swings as it tilts as it turns too, reaching speeds of 30mph at 30ft high. As she’s not 1.2m I had to ride with her and wow, I felt sick and dizzy for a good hour afterwards. She begged to go on again and loved every second, but I couldn’t stomach it. My 5 year old sat this one out (more on solo parent visits later).

We also enjoyed a ride on the train that loops round the bottom half of the park, taking in pretty views of the lake, rides and green space. We had to wait a fair while for it to get going, but once we were off they loved the short ride.

The Classic Cars ride was also hit, especially as they could both ‘drive’ in the same car. You’ll also find the big playground in this area, but we didn’t even get to use it. Despite arriving at opening time and leaving when Wicksteed Park closed, we just didn’t have enough time.

Splash Zone

This area is the furthest walk from the entrance and whilst it’s downhill, the walk back is, obviously, uphill. You’ve been warned!

Down here you’ll find the oldest water chute in Britain. It’s an iconic part of the park and truth be told, actually felt a bit scarier in my older age!

Part of the thrill is climbing the narrow stairs with little metal holes, so you can see the ground below. It took a bit of negotiation with my 5 year old who isn’t a fan of heights. You then climb into a wooden boat (with others) and it’s released (supposedly slowly) into the water below, creating a big splash.

Apart from that ride, there’s not much down this end really in my opinion. Some of the lake boat rides and sand play areas were closed during my August visit, but perhaps if they were open would be a bit better.

Thrill Zone

The true highlight of this zone during my last visit was watching my two on the Ladybird Rollercoaster. We had 45-minutes left before the park closed and as there was no queue they got to ride it about six or seven times in a row. They were giddy with excitement!

The nicest part was that they were a bit unsure on the first ride, but by the end they were super confident. I went on with them and sat with my 3 year old, but once they realised it was fun they booted me off and rode it together, laughing and putting their arms in their air. Was a very sweet moment to witness their newfound confidence and to see their excitement.

In this zone of Wicksteed Park you’ll also find Rocky River Falls, which is a more traditional log flume ride. This had the biggest queue of our whole visit – 45 minutes.

I thought my two would be put off by that, but they were adamant they wanted to ride it, which was a bit unnerving as I was worried my youngest might be too small or young or that we’d need another grown up. They let us on though – I had to sit at the front, with my 3 year old in the middle and the 5 year old at the back, but all sandwiched in the front portion of the flume.

Spoiler alert, we got soaked. I may have also screamed.

They also went on Honey Pot Bears, which is essentially another variation of the classic tea cups.

Prices

How much does it cost to get into Wicksteed Park?

Nothing! Entry to Wicksteed Park is free. However, you need to use tickets to go on the rides.

How much do tickets cost?

Tickets cost £2.50 each and most rides need 1 ticket.

How much do wristbands cost?

During peak time adult wristbands cost £17 and children wristbands cost £20. If you’re there for the day and plan to go on a lot of rides I’d recommend buying the wristbands.

From October an adult wristband drops to £10 and a child’s one to £12. However, not all the rides will be open.

Tickets vs Wristbands

Tot up how many rides your children are tall enough to go on and realistically how many you think they’ll want to ride.

Also bear in mind that you need a ticket or wristband to gain entry to Meerkat Manor and the aviary.

Tip: If you think they’ll go on more than 6/7 rides, it’s worth getting the wristbands. For adults, consider how many rides you might need to go on because of young ones not being tall enough to ride alone. If it’s more than 8, get the wristband.

I knew I’d have to go on a fair few rides with my youngest and that my eldest would want to go in the animal enclosures, so it was wristbands for us. It meant it was a pricey day out, but we more than got our money’s worth.

How to buy tickets

You can now buy tickets and wristbands online, which I’d recommend. The other option is to buy them at the park, but bear in mind that in peak time the queues get pretty big, even if you arrive early.

Also, don’t assume that you’ll be able to buy tickets at each zone. I made the mistake of traipsing down to the far end of the park to skip the entrance queues, expecting to buy them at the Splash Zone, but couldn’t. I then had to cart two excitable children back to the top to queue.

You should be able to bank on getting your tickets at the office near the main entrance or by the food area.

Food at Wicksteed Park

There are quite a few food outlets near the top (entrance end) of the park. You’ll find Franks fish and chips, Franks burgers, an ice cream parlour and a few more. There are benches dotted about, as well as lots of open space.

The guys at one of the counters kindly filled my water bottles up with no hassle.

Tip: If you want to save money, bring a picnic. There are loads and loads of open spaces to choose from.

I left the picnic in the car so I wouldn’t have to carry it around. We then went back to the car park and sat in the green space near there so I could chuck the picnic mat and other bits back in the car.

As we stayed til closing time, I’d planned to get dinner there but everything started closing an hour before the rides, so in the end we grabbed a Mcdonalds (a short drive away) on the way home.

Logistics

The Wicksteed Park address is Barton Road, Kettering, Northamptonshire, NN15 6NJ.

There’s lots of onsite, chargeable parking available. It’s all on one level and outside. You can pay on the phone or via the app. Parking fees are as follows:

  • 1-2 hours: £3
  • 2-3 hours: £4
  • All day: £6

Tip: If you plan to visit lots of times throughout the year, consider a parking permit. It costs £40 for the year. You can buy here.

Staying at Wicksteed Park

If camping is your thing you may wish to stay over in the camp fields. Pitches start from £15 so it’s really affordable. Campervans and caravans are welcome, but there’s no electricity to hook up to.

There’s a modern loo and shower block, but I haven’t tried it out to verify this.

For something a bit fancier, Barton Hall Hotel is just a few minutes away, or there’s a classic Holiday Inn.

Solo Parenting

I took my then 3 and 5 year old on my own. It was my first visit to a theme park as a single parent and although I was a little apprehensive, I didn’t want them to miss out on a summer of fun because of my marital status. Plus, I’ve had loads of days out on my own with them, so figured it would be fine.

The trickiest moment was when my 3 year old wanted to go on the carousel swings. I had to go on with her due to height restrictions. My 5 year old didn’t want to as he doesn’t like heights. He was happy to wait, so I decided to trust him to wait at the fence near the entrance. He was in my eyeline and I gave him clear instructions, but I still felt quite nervy to be honest. But also proud that he could show patience and responsibility.

The log flume and train ride we were able to sit together and for the other rides, it was mainly my two together and me behind , or some combination of that (i.e. 1 and 2). I would have preferred to sit as a three in a row, as I felt I was constantly having to choose, but that was an internal dilemma they didn’t have to worry about.

In their eyes, it was a great, fun day out with mummy and that’s the main thing.

^Pin this Wicksteed Park guide for later^

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