We went on our first ever trip to Tayto Park last week. The kids had it on their list of places to go last summer and again this year, but between one thing and another we didn’t get there, so we surprised them with a trip on Sunday morning.
I had been slightly reluctant on a number of grounds. Firstly, a theme park themed on a junk food, I know Tayto is a national institution but it’s still well, a crisp. But then I thought is a crisp any worse than an animated mouse? Then I had heard from many people about the cool rides and I wondered if there was enough to keep my smaller ones (aged five and three now) entertained. Thirdly, I’d heard it was very, very busy.
However, after reading Learnermama’s post with tips for making the most of a day at Tayto Park we decided it was doable, so we headed north, confident that since the schools were back there wouldn’t be crowds to deal with.
First impressions were very good, the set up was very smooth and professional and staff we met from the security guards to the girls on the admissions desk were incredibly friendly and helpful.
Admission is €15 per person aged 3 or over.
What do you get for the money?
Well, here’s the rub. There are certain free attractions, and everything else you have to pay for either by buying tokens for €1 each (but nothing costs 1 token, the cheapest thing we saw cost 2 tokens) or by buying a wristband for an extra €15 (bringing your entry up to €30). So for example, The Cu Chulainn Rollercoaster costs 5 tokens per person, or the Grand Carousel costs 3 tokens.
(Clockwise from top left- Crisp on a stick, Pow Wow Playground X 2, Factory Tour, Climbing Wall in Eagles Nest, Mr Tayto, Pow Wow Playground)
There are lots of free things to do, especially on your first visit.
Our favourite free attraction was the Pow Wow Playground. The kids played here for ages, it’s billed as age 5-12 but our hardy three-year-old got around easily with help from her big brothers. It’s pretty hard to keep an eye on the kids when they are in it due to shelters, and covered slides etc, but they had to be dragged away.
Steam Train Express we didn’t go on this but younger kids would love it.
The Zoo element, which features tigers and mountain lions and meerkats among others. We happened on a presentation about the birds of prey which was very good.
The Ice Valley A short walk through area with animatronics of prehistoric animals. This was cool but my kids raced from exhibit to exhibit and we spent less than 5 minutes in total.
Dinosaurs Alive I loved this, again animatronics of different dinosaurs, including T-Rex, pterodactyl and Apataosaurus. There’s a great photo opp in this area where you can pose as baby dinosaurs cracking out of eggs. (Do you think any of my children would agree to do this?)
The Water Splash Areas This is what Laoise (3) loved the most, fountains that are on a splash pad. We went to the one closer to the small kids’ playground near the main entrance rather than at the Eagles Nest area.(Whoever thought it was a good idea to have both areas starting with the word Eagle?) If you let your children play here you will definitely need either swimwear or a change of clothes and a towel, but they will be very happy. Wet and happy.
The Factory Tour Remember behind the magic door in Bosco where they’d go to the milk bottling factory or the chocolate factory? Well this is like that but in a crisp factory. We visited at the weekend so we didn’t get to see the production line in operation but I was still fascinated.
The Vortex Tunnel A converted shipping container. We were underwhelmed, but I think it may not have been working properly when we were there.
For more information on Free Attractions check out the Tayto Park website.
We had a fun day out. I was surprised how well done a lot of the park is but a few things had room for improvement- signposting and maps for one, there are lots of loops that look similar when you’re there the first time, and very few signposts (or not where we needed them). Here are the questions that I wanted to know the answers to before we went:
Is there stuff for younger kids to do at Tayto Park?
Absolutely, the Eagles’ Nest area (Turn left when you arrive) has loads of rides suitable for preschoolers, Honey Pots, a small ferris wheel and the Grand Carousel for example. There are also a few rides acceptable to older children in that zone, but where the big ticket rides are there is very little for the younger kids to do except play in the playground. I think it would have been a good idea to have one or two rides that the smaller ones can go on at this area too, although there is a playground and splash pad but they’re for the toddlers not the “want to be bigger” kids so that when you’re using your last tokens you don’t have kids who are too short for the big attractions begging you to go back to the Eagles Nest area so they can go on something too. Each ride has height signs so the littler ones could clearly see whether they could go on a ride or not, and thankfully our five-year-old accepeted the ruling after the initial disappointment.
What about big kids (and adults?)
For older kids (0ver 1.2m in height, so think 7+) and adults (who are willing) there are lots of high octane rides, including the Rotator and the famous Cu Chulainn. The zipwire looked like fun too, and a great way to get a view of the park. I’m not great with heights so I delegated the ride accompanying to my husband.
Staff were very patient and helpful when our kids decided that an attraction wasn’t for them and we had a couple of rescues done from heights without any fuss at all.
Are there eating options?
There are lots of concession stalls, but many were closed since we were there in September so it was no longer peak season. We loved the crisps on a stick (that’s what Cathal is eating in the photo above) available from the Twisted Chip stand near the meerkats. The Lodge restaurant has loads of options, but we brought a picnic and just bought coffees and one chips and sausages to share as the kids were salivating. The chips were, as you’d expect, excellent. There are loads of picnic tables so it’s a good option, we brought ours and ate it in the Eagles Nest area.
Is it expensive?
As I explained above it’s €15 admission and then rides are extra. I’d recommend setting either a number of paid attractions each or a number of tokens each per child. It can work out expensive if you’re there all day doing paid attractions, so wristbands could be useful then.
Would I recommend Tayto Park?
Yes, for younger kids it’s great.
For older, thrill-seeking kids it’s great.
For your adventurous five-, six- or seven-year-old who’s not hitting the height marker it’s fun but a little disappointing, especially when your brother is tall enough.
So if you just have young kids GO!
if you just have over 7’s GO!
BUT if you have kids spanning both age-groups it might prove a little challenging. This will obviously depend on your kids, if your eldest is happy to go on the smaller rides in the Eagles Nest then there’s no issue, I’d happily have stayed there all day, there was tons to do. Ditto if your younger kids have no interest in the scarier rides.
This isn’t a sponsored post, we paid for our trip to Tayto Park. All opinions are my own honest view of things.