To celebrate the last week of summer holidays, a friend and I loaded up two vehicles with kids and headed to the all-inclusive Ventura Park in Cancun’s hotel zone. This has become an end of summer vacation tradition for us. Formerly this park was called Wet ‘n Wild, a water park featuring several heart pumping, twisting slides. But in the last year, it has transformed into an even more amazing amusement park with so much to offer!
Within Ventura Park, there are six themed worlds, and believe me when I say, there is something for everyone. We arrived shortly after 10a.m. when the park opened. Passing the lockers, we came upon Amazonia, a zone in the park housing all kinds of species of reptiles, insects and birds that have been rescued from owners who abused or obtained the animals through illegal trade. This was our chance to run our fingers over the smooth skin of a boa and see owls perched alongside brightly colored macaws. These animals were at the entrance greeting us. We decided not to go in on this trip, but it is a point of interest next time for sure.
Tip: Amazonia is not included in any of the day pass choices. There is a $5USD fee to enter.
After discussing how we’d like the day’s schedule to go, we laid down the rules for our giddy bunch and decided we would begin rounding the troops up around 3:30. Although the park doesn’t close until 5:30p.m, we were hoping to avoid traffic back to Playa del Carmen. By 4:30p.m. we were still going strong and not one of us was ready to leave!
There were a bunch of other adventure-seekers in the park, yet it didn’t seem overcrowded at all. We easily found some loungers under a palm tree, which acted as our home base. For half of our group, the wave pool seemed the most appealing way to ease into the exciting day ahead. For the other half, they bee-lined straight to the Kamikaze (a.k.a. The Wedgie) The steep slide sends you down at an exhilarating speed. Unfortunately, the wide survivor’s smile and sense of pride you feel at the bottom go hand in hand with the uncomfortable wedgie.Tip: It’s best to keep your legs crossed as you fly down the Kamikaze. Don’t ask why; just trust us on this one! Follow all the safety instructions provided by the staff and lifeguards on duty. Most of the 6 worlds require that kids be at least 8 years old to ride solo. 7 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
The rest of the day was spent descending down 6 stories slides on giant inner tubes, climbing the wet bubble in the kids only zone, floating down the lazy river, and being flushed down an enormous toilet (the Double Space Bowl featuring a 10-foot drop at the end into a refreshing pool.) Oh yes, and I guess I should also mention that we crossed a few things off our bucket lists on Fun World’s roller coaster and at Aaah!Ventura’s bungee jump!
Tip: You have to be dry and have shoes on to ride the Hurricane roller coaster and Crazy Chairs swing carousel.
Behaving like super heroes had left our stomach’s growling. There were three on-site restaurants that were included in our admission pass. Each eatery served food, pop, water and beer and opened at 11a.m. Buon Appetito, the Italian restaurant had you guessed it, pizza and pasta on the menu. Sunrise was the largest and had your standard buffet items including fish, chicken, and beef dishes, mashed potatoes, vegetables, burgers and fries, as well as a salad bar. The Bunker, a sports bar offered a menu of various finger foods and beverages. There were also two palapa hut bars where you could hydrate (or just cool off) with unlimited water, pop, icy piña coladas and cold cervezas throughout the day.
Our bellies were full and we couldn’t wait to get out and enjoy more of this fantastic seaside park. There were so many activities to choose from and so little time. To a collective ‘Boo’ we urged the kids to pick their top 3 adventure activities as we neared the end of our day. It was a bummer that we were unable to visit Underworld with its laser tag mazes, Laser Tanks, and Star Wars Battle Pod.
During the final hour of addictive fun, we raced back to Fun World and got dizzy on the Crazy Chairs swing carousel. The kids sailed over the park on the River Zip Line, which was just scary enough for our crew. These 2 rows of zip lines stretch 800 feet over the park and are perfect for pint-sized thrill seekers. The adult versions are the Tarzania, one 800-foot zip line and Caribbean Zip – a 4-zip line circuit 80 feet above Ventura Park. Both offer spectacular views of this super fun, oceanfront amusement park.
Tip: The staff allows you to put on a helmet and go up to the take off platform with the munchkins. Bring your camera for some great photo ops when they become airborne!
Before we could get our own helmets off, the group was already Sky Walking over 6 wobbly, suspension bridges and Stepping Up on make-shift tree trunks, each escalating to death-defying (ok, that might be a little exaggerated) heights. Don’t worry safety moms; participants are harnessed in case they should fall.
Within Aaah!Ventura world, there was also the Bungee Swing. This doable 30-foot drop feels as if you are going to definitely plunge to your death until at the last few feet, your bungee cord kicks in and propels you up again, then swings you back and forth like a pendulum as you are lowered to the ground. We opted for The Swing that seemed far less intimidating than the Hell Jump, which was a terrifying 65 feet. We felt no shame in walking away from that monster and letting our hearts beat for hopefully another day.
Staying longer than we intended, it was time to say adios and make our way back to Playa del Carmen. We grabbed one for the road - no we don’t condone drinking and driving - ice cream; we bought cups of creamy treats with sprinkles on the way to the exit. The ice cream cafes are sadly not included. Although we had to shell out a little extra cash, it did not bother us a bit since the day had been such a blast.
Next time we go, and there will definitely be a next time, we’ll organize the day and plan to drop in at the Grand Prix (a 275 yard seaside, go-kart track) and Underworld (the high-tech, virtual reality game zone.) A stop at Dolphinaris (open 9-5) might be of interest to some park-goers. There is an extra cost to swim with and learn about these extraordinary creatures.
If you don’t have a vehicle or do not wish to rent a car, you have other options to get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun. There is the Playa Express and Colectivos. The main pick up area in Playa del Carmen is on Calle 2 and 20th Avenue. There are a few differences between Playa Express and a Colectivo van taxi. Playa Express Mercedes vans are air-conditioned and more spacious. They will pick you up in Playa along the highway until the pedestrian overpass heading north on the outskirts of the city. There are no more stops after this point. The Colectivo makes continuous stops along the highway until it is at its maximum capacity for passengers. It is cheaper than the Playa Express but takes longer with more stops. Both will drop you off at the ADO bus station in Cancun center. From there you can take a taxi or a city bus to Ventura Park in the nearby hotel zone.
Another option is to hire a driver for the day. They will pick you up at a spot that is convenient for you and will wait at the park to take you back to Playa at the end of your day. This service is more expensive but often more economical than taking a regular taxi cab both ways. If this were an option you would like to look into further, please call the Bric Vacation Rental office at (984)803-3191 for recommended drivers.
Some general information to know before you go:
- Ventura Park is just under an hour from Playa del Carmen. If you have your own vehicle, there is good signage and it is easy to get to. Note that you will have to drive past the park from the main road as there is no access from this point. Take the next U-turn to come back. Follow the signs to the parking lot.
- Book online, at least 5 days in advance to save up to 30%
- There are 3 levels of admission that are clarified on their web page. We selected the basic package, which did not include Grand Prix or Underworld. Everything else, food, beverages and a whole lot of fun – included!! Prices range from $55USD - $76USD for adults, $20 off the adult tickets for kids (this is with the 30% online advance ticket discount.)
- Bring your own towel. If you forgot one, don’t worry; towels are available for rent, as are lockers to keep your valuables safe.
- Biodegradable sunscreen is strongly recommended.
- If you want a change of scenery, there is a wonderful beach club within the park as well. For $15USD on top of your day pass, you have access to the loungers, pool, restaurant and oh, ya the turquoise Caribbean Sea!
- If you have a Quintana Roo ID (school cards for the kids and resident card or Driver’s License will do for adults) you can receive a discounted rate.
- Go early! The last few times we’ve been, people tend to arrive after 12pm. If you can plan to get there by 10a.m, it feels as though you have the entire park to yourself.
- The park is open daily from 10am – 5:30pm.
- Wear your swim suits, but have a change of dry clothes handy in order to switch from park to park without having to wait until your suit is dry.
Asked on the way home what they would rate Ventura Park out of 10, my three judges gave it a unanimous score of 10! Actually one shouted a 100 and I couldn’t agree more! Friendly staff, safe, clean, all-inclusive so you can pack light and fun for all ages!
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About the Author
Juanita grew up in a small town in the middle of Canada. Having experienced twenty years of ruggedly cold climate, she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime. After moving to and working in Vancouver for thirteen years (where she was ecstatic to see the odd palm tree) she jumped at the opportunity to move with her husband and three children to Playa del Carmen. She calls it a ‘dreamy existence’ and cherishes year-round, backyard barbecues with friends, road trips and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean. She writes for Bric Vacation Rentals.