Editor’s Note: Prices and hours have been updated for 2016.
I first heard of Pirate’s Cove last summer when some friends shared news on Facebook of a Groupon for admission. Contributor Rebecca Greco checked it out this summer, and she says her family had a “blast.” Read on for more about her experience! — Tara
Name and Background:
Pirate’s Cove Children’s Theme Park is part of the Elk Grove Park District and has been in operation for more than 25 years. The park district’s website says: “Discover the rides, games, theme days, parties and more waiting deep within this buried treasure in Elk Grove Village. The Park is designed to stimulate and encourage the creative exploration and imagination of children between the ages of 1 and 9.”
There is also a pool right next to Pirate’s Cove, and you can buy a a combo admission pass to swim at Pavilion Aquatics Center in addition to visiting the park. I also noticed a fun-looking splash park near the Elk Grove Village Library that might be a great activity to pair with a trip to Pirate’s Cove!
It’s located at 901 Leicester Road in Elk Grove Village. Pirate’s Cove is right off of Interstate 290, at the Biesterfield Road exit.
The hours vary depending on if it is pre-season, regular season, or post season. If you plan on making the trip, it’s best to check the park’s website for hours before heading out.
When to Visit:
We went on a Thursday and got there at 10 a.m. right when the park opened. There was one small day camp group, but otherwise it really wasn’t too busy. The only lines we waited in were for the ride to end so my kids could board on the next trip; there weren’t any lines longer than that.
Adults are free at Pirate’s Cove, but you have to pay admission for any child riding the rides. General child is $12, Elk Grove resident child is $9. Pirate’s Cove is recommended for children ages 1 through 9. Tuesdays and Thursdays after 4 p.m. are “twilight” rates, with the general child being priced at $9 and Elk Grove resident child at $6.
There is only one restroom at the entrance and it does have several changing tables. However, the park isn’t extremely large so we didn’t have a problem with there not being more bathrooms available. There is a concession stand (their menu can be found here.) and there is also a picnic area. Outside food is allowed so you can bring your own snacks and lunch.
Though the website says the park is aimed at ages 1-9, it’s definitely geared more toward the younger crowd. The majority of kids were probably 5 and younger, though I’m sure some older kids would still have fun.
I only recently heard about Pirate’s Cove and kept putting off going because I didn’t want to go on a really hot day, but I realized that holding out for a cooler day might have me waiting for weeks. Thankfully, there are plenty of shady areas and the heat really wasn’t too bad, and we had a blast!
The majority of rides, with the exception of the train, are only for children, and adults cannot ride them. I wasn’t entirely sure how my 2 year old would do with this, but I figured worst case, we would watch while her older sister rode. She surprised me though and was really excited to go on the “tiny baby pirate boats” and loved the rides! It wasn’t too busy and we didn’t have to wait very long for any of them. We were there a few hours and rode most things twice, some even more!
The one ride that made me a little nervous was the carousel, there weren’t any seatbelts and it seemed to go really fast. My younger daughter was sitting on the bench, and I was worried she would fly off it. This was the only ride I really had any concerns with though, and I felt comfortable with them going on all the others without me.
We had gone on a few rides when there was an announcement that the pirate show was going to be starting soon, so we headed over the to the stage area and found a spot on the ground to sit. There’s a stage with a large grass area to sit and watch. The show had one pirate who got hit in the head and forgot how to be a pirate, so the other two teach her again by acting out how to do things like swab the deck and hoist the sails. In the end there is a dance party where the kids are encouraged to use their newfound pirate skills as dance moves. I wasn’t sure what the show would be and if it would hold my 2 year old’s attention, but they both really enjoyed it, especially the dance party!
My 4 year old’s favorite thing was probably the paddle boats. Instead of having pedals to make the boat move, there were two hand cranks. My 2 year old couldn’t figure it out and ended up just floating, but she still loved it!
There’s a castle with a playground area and a slide that takes you down a dragon’s back. There’s also a bounce house, potato sack slide, and a rock climbing tower. These areas would probably be more interesting for older kids than the rides would be.
On our way out we noticed a room underneath the pirate ship, it was a little craft studio. There was paper for the kids to color and then an employee was helping them add streamers and yarn to make windsocks. It was a nice activity to do on our way out.
Pirate’s Cove Children’s Theme Park is a really great outing idea for smaller children and I definitely think it’s worth the drive!