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 own 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!
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.
New! Speedy Pass. Depending on the ages and heights of your kids, the Speedy Pass, new this year, may be a great investment. Guests joining the Viking invasion can get to the most popular ride quicker. 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.
New Rules for 2023
Adventureland has put into place two new rules for the 2023 season. 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.
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 2023 at Adventureland
Visitors to Adventureland this year will be treated to two exciting new rides made even more exhilarating because they are interwoven together! Named the Flying Viking, Adventureland’s newest roller coaster will “soar over, under, and around” the new water ride – the Draken Falls. Boasting speeds of 26 miles per hour on a 1300 feet long track that twists, turns, and winds, riders will definitely feel the thrill of flying like a Viking! For sea-faring adventurers, the Draken Falls is the park’s newest water voyage and plunges down not one, but two deep drops leaving riders soaked yet satisfied.
This year Adventureland will host a new Summer Concert Series every Friday and Saturday in June. Both national and local performers will take the stage for a-rockin’ good time. Concerts are included in the park ticket price.
Adventureland is celebrating America’s birthday with style for an “unforgettable family affair.” Live music, delicious food, and fireworks are included with admission for the July 1-4 Celebrate America festivities.
To close out the summer, Adventureland will host Kids Fest, a family-friendly end-of-summer celebration. Taking place over Labor Day weekend, enjoying the exciting activities and entertainment along with the amazing amenities of the park is the ideal way to make family memories.
While the rides, shows, and attractions are what bring visitors to Adventureland, the plethora of food stands throughout the park keeps everyone satiated all day long. New this year, The Potato Patch joins the delectable lineup. The Potato Patch features “mouthwatering fresh-cut fries with a variety of toppings including a cheddar cheese sauce and bacon.”
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!
- How to Get Discounted Adventureland Tickets
- Adventure Bay Water Park Tips for Families
- Adventureland Inn – A Great Family Escape
Big thanks to Ashlen Sheaffer and Michelle Jarnagin for contributing tips to this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Adventureland is currently owned by Palace Entertainment.
Adventureland Inn offers fun suites and an indoor waterpark families will enjoy after riding rollercoasters all day!
Yes! Purchasing a gift card is a great experience gift. They can be used towards single tickets or season passes.
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!