Tips For Visiting Adventureland Iowa

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Tips For Visiting Adventureland Iowa

For most people who grew up in Iowa, Adventureland is full of nostalgia. This theme park, just outside of Des Moines, has fun rides and a water park, it’s not too big, and it’s great for all ages. The whole family will have a blast!

I’ve been visiting Adventureland amusement park since I was a little girl. I remember an awesome vacation that involved a stay at the Adventureland Inn (with a poolside room AND pizza) and even a glow stick to wear after the theme park started turning dark. As a middle schooler, I went with my class on a weekend and couldn’t believe the freedom we had to go on any ride we wanted without adult chaperones.  And finally, my husband and I spent a Saturday there on a date before we were married and hadn’t developed motion sickness yet. (Does that come on after 30? I never used to be that way!)

Now we are so happy to be able to take our son to Adventureland Park to create his memories. My son had a blast last summer so we decided to make it an annual thing and go again this year.

Read on for my very best tips for getting the most out of Adventureland’s attractions, new attractions, and fun coming to Des Moines, Iowa this summer!

Ferris wheel.

Know Before You Go

Hit up the water park! To get more than your money’s worth, be sure to go when Adventure Bay Water Park is open as well. It has shorter hours than the rest of the park.

Check the height requirements. Adventureland has dozens of rides available for amusement park enthusiasts of all ages, ranging from gentle kiddie rides such as the Frog Hopper for the young and exciting thrill rides for the young at heart. A full list of rides can be found on the Adventureland website with most rides ranging in height requirements from a 34” minimum for the Junior Jockeys horse ride to a 54” minimum for the Sidewinder. Some family-friendly rides like the A-Train, Carousel, and Giant Sky Wheel have no height requirements. Some of our personal favorites are the wooden roller coaster, Tea cups, and Sky Ride. Last year we noticed the Falling Star was no longer there, which used to always be a family favorite. 

Watch the weather forecast. Some rides will shut down if the winds are too high or if there’s rain.

Pack plenty of water. Adventureland will allow you to bring in your own water, but all other food and drinks must be purchased at the park.

Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable walking shoes (flip flops are never a good idea at an amusement park) and bring extra clothes for after-the-water rides. Having long hair pulled back into a ponytail will keep hair out of faces while going on rides. Take off your sunglasses before rides so they don’t fly off – just saying this because this may have happened a time or two to me. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Tickets and Passes

Check out season passes. If you plan to go three or more times,  a season pass pays for itself. You’ll also get free parking! Season passes give you the flexibility to go for a full day, just visit the water park, or even pop in for a couple of quick rides. You can save money on pools by just going to Adventure Bay any time you want to be in the water! Learn more about Discounted Adventureland tickets.

Speedy Pass. Depending on the ages and heights of your kids, the Speedy Pass, new this year, maybe a great investment. Guests joining the Viking invasion can get to the most popular ride quickly. Seven of the park’s most popular rides will be included in the new service that can cut your wait time by up to 90%. The rides included are Draken Falls, Flying Viking, Monster, Phoenix, Sidewinder, Saw Mill Splash, and Underground.

Remember these Rules!

Adventureland put into place two new rules. Be aware before you go!

  • Chaperone Policy – Guests ages 17 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old to enter the park after 4 p.m.
  • Bag Policy – One bag per guest is allowed into the park. The bag also needs to measure 15″x 15″ x 15″ and all guests must pass through the weapons detection system at the front gate.
Water slides at Adventure Bay water park.
Check out the water slides at Adventureland!

Planning Your Day at Adventureland Theme Park

Go Early. The park opens at 10 a.m. It is good to get there right around when it opens since it gets busier later in the day. Enjoy the cooler morning hours and hopefully some shorter lines.

Do the water park first. Adventure Bay will fill up quickly by the afternoon. There will be longer lines and harder to find a spot to sit. Take a look at all our tips for Adventure Bay

Work your way back to the front. We typically go to Adventureland on the weekends, when they’re the busiest. We’ve found it helpful to walk to the back of the park and work our way forward. The attractions in the back have no lines because everyone starts at the front. By the time we’ve made our way to the front, everyone is at the back!

Stay until dark. Some nights Adventureland Iowa is open until 10 (check the website – hours change frequently) and it is fun to stay and see everything all lit up. It makes for an extra special spin on the carousel or Ferris wheel!

Consider making it a weekend. If you are feeling up to a splurge, consider staying the night at the Adventureland Inn or the campground. Adventureland Inn has an indoor pool, hot tubs, and poolside rooms. Whether you need one hotel room or more check out a hotel package for the best deal! My parents stayed overnight at the Adventureland campground and my husband commented on how he felt like he was on vacation, even though we were still right there in our own city.

New in 2024 at Adventureland

Adventureland Park is celebrating 50 years this year! Some fun things you can look forward to in 2024 include:

  • Bernie’s Birthday Bash in June where kids can enjoy fun activities and meet the one and only Bernie Bernard, a beloved staple of the park since its opening in 1974.
  • Festival of Decades in July is a nostalgic journey through the past 50 years of Adventureland. Each week, they will pay tribute to a different decade with concerts, fireworks, and history displays throughout the park.
  • The Underground is back!  The world’s only indoor wooden roller coaster undergoes a spectacular reimagination. With new scenes, enhanced classics, and elevated theming throughout, this iconic ride promises an exhilarating journey deep underground.
  • Oink’s food stand is here to satisfy your cravings with a delectable selection of Berkwood Farms Berkshire Pork products.
  • Light Up the Boulevard: A Nighttime Spectacle is something you do not want to miss! With later closing times in 2024, guests can experience the park in a whole new light as colorful displays dance across the night sky. 
  • Falling Star Lounge features the iconic sign from the Falling Star ride, beautifully refurbished and proudly displayed, this lounge area is the perfect spot to unwind and reminisce after a day of adventure.

Food at Adventureland Resort

Budget for food. There are plenty of snack and meal options in the amusement park, but definitely budget food into your day because it can get pricey.

Avoid the hangry kid. Adhere to your family’s regular snack and meal times while you’re at the park.

Bring a picnic lunch and take a break. I always feel better if I can take a mid-day break to get off my feet and relax. Instead of eating in the park, you can bring a picnic and enjoy it in the shelter right outside the gates. Leave it in your car though – no outside food is allowed in the park. Or you can travel a few miles down the road to Outlets of Des Moines which offers a ton of food options and shopping. 

Other Adventureland Resources to Save!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns Adventureland?

Adventureland is currently owned by Palace Entertainment.

Where is the best place to stay near Adventureland?

Adventureland Inn offers fun suites and an indoor waterpark families will enjoy after riding rollercoasters all day!

Does Adventureland sell gift cards?

Yes! Purchasing a gift card is a great experience gift. They can be used towards single tickets or season passes.

Are there other fun spots to enjoy rides in central Iowa?

Yes! Take a look at our full list of festivals and carnivals happening throughout central Iowa this Summer and save the date for the annual Iowa State Fair too! 

Kids on a ride at Adventureland Park, Des Moines, Iowa.


Guest Contributor

One thought on “Tips For Visiting Adventureland Iowa

  1. Hi! Thank you for the great info!! One quick question… do we need to bring towels to adventure bay? Thank you!!!

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