Adventure Island, Southend

An aerial shot of Adventure Island, Southend, Essex

“My best bit was Captain Blackbeard on the jiggledy pirate boat!” Etienne, 4

Just a stone’s throw away from Southend-on-Sea’s beach and pier, the vast majority of rides at this theme park are stamped with a logo deeming them “disability-friendly”.

Admission to the park itself is free, but the rides are charged – this allows for a great deal of flexibility, as you can either pop in and buy tickets for single experiences, or purchase a wristband for a day of unlimited fun. This means that if you’re a hesitant parent with highly adventurous children who want to try everything, you can pay for their thrills, while watching from the sidelines for free. Toddlers, teenagers and adults will all find something that appeals though. The Viking Boats, Flying Jumbos and Blackbeard’s All at Sea are all suitable for all ages. The Barnstormer and Green Scream rollercoasters will keep Junior and Big Adventure wristband holders entertained, while the 21-metre high Sky Drop is a white-knuckle experience only suitable for the latter group. 2012 will also see the unveiling of the park’s new thrill ride, The Time Machine.

A large car park is close by, equipped with a lift and sloped access. Blue Badge holders can park in bays within yards of all four entrances. Unlike many theme parks, there aren’t any turnstiles at the park gate, but there are some at ride entrances – disabled visitors can enter the rides via the exits to avoid these. The “disability-friendly ride” logo means that rides are “suitable for most disabled people with the help of a carer” – obviously whether this applies to you will depend on your individual circumstances. Be aware that if you cannot get onto a ride alone, staff can help out, but a carer must be present to assist. Ride signs also indicate possible safety considerations (which may include pregnancy and particular disabilities) intended to help visitors assess suitability. Guests “with severe limb amputations” should check in advance. Visitors can discuss details of the rides, limitations and the possibility for reasonable adjustment with staff – a disability policy is available online or from customer services.

Food & drink: The Jungle Jive restaurant has a family-friendly environment, accessible toilet and baby changing facilities. Its reasonably priced menu includes burgers, chicken and veggie options. A new pizza and pasta restaurant – Feelgoods – has also recently opened for the 2012 season.