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Reviewed 26 January 2024

In January 2024, my husband, our 20-month-old son, our 19-year-old niece, and I set out on a family adventure to Sun City in South Africa. Nestled near the Pilanesberg National Park, we sought a break from our daily safari explorations and were curious to discover if Sun City could cater to the diverse ages in our group. The result? A mix of delightful moments and unexpected frustrations, all of which I'll share to help you plan your visit.

The Valley of the Waves: A Family Oasis:
Our primary draw to Sun City was the "Valley of the Waves." This water park, though smaller compared to international counterparts, boasts a wave pool, splash area for little ones, lazy river, zip-lining, and water slides ranging from mild to heart-pounding. It was the perfect family-friendly hub and we really enjoyed our time there.

Ticket Wisdom:
Pre-purchase and Plan Early. One key lesson we learned - buy your tickets online before arriving. The gates don't sell tickets. For a non-peak midweek ticket, we paid 395 Rand per person, and children under three enter free. The ticket included full-day access to the Valley of the Waves, Access to Sun City 80 Rand voucher which you MUST use all at one time (annoying) and ONLY at the food kiosks in the Valley of the Waves + a few of the food stalls in the adjacent food court. ASK BEFORE YOU ORDER.

Food Frustrations: Sneak in Snacks for Toddlers
A notable frustration for us was the restriction on bringing outside food. With a toddler who needed specific snacks, we wish we'd snuck in toddler-friendly snacks. Next time, we will. It was a bit galling to us that the Valley of the Waves is a family location, but doesn't offer any food stalls where you can buy baby-friendly and toddler-friendly snacks that are not fast food (ie fruit. crackers. yogurt. etc). The food options within the Valley of the Waves, while plentiful, leaned heavily towards fast food, posing a challenge for our picky eater.

Tip: Carefully and intelligently hide what you need for your baby so you aren't struggling to feed baby (if you don't like/want to serve fast food to baby). They DO check your bags but not super carefully. I think small containers of fruit or crackers or cheese etc will likely go unnoticed. Maybe split it up among your party's bags. Sorry not sorry.

Transportation Trials Buses and Beyond:
Upon arrival, we were directed to park at the day visitor parking and wait for a bus to take us to the welcome center. Unfortunately, communication was seriously lacking, and we found ourselves standing with our toddler, unsure of the next steps. It took multiple trips back to the gate (you'll need to drive there from the bus stop) to understand that even though no one as working at the bus stop (it was deserted at 8:30 am) the cameras on the platform were being monitored and ...eventually a bus showed up.

Tip: Ask specific questions at the gate: Can you call a bus for us? When will the bus arrive? HOW long should we expect it to take? The staff is friendly but has NOT been trained on managing expectations or explaining the next steps to guests...we saw this time and time again.

Note: walking from the day parking lot isn't practical with small kids, anyone who can't walk well, or anyone who doesn't want to walk for at least 30 min to get to the welcome center. Shuttle service is a necessity. You are not allowed to park elsewhere in the park unless you have a booking at a hotel.

Attractions Beyond the Waves:
Hotels and Hidden Gems
Sun City's expansive grounds feature various hotels, including the iconic Palace Hotel and the picturesque Cascades. We planned to explore these hotels and enjoy the lush green pathways connecting them to the Valley of the Waves. That didn't unfold as expected due to the sheer size of the resort, but we did get a chance to peek at the paths and they are beautiful...Jungle-y (a bit funny given you are in the bush) and shady at the same time. We also walked around the closest hotel grounds to the Valley of the Waves (Cascades) and that was lovely as well.

Tip: When you are at the Valley of the Waves / at a hotel ask a staff person where the how/ where to access the path that connects the VoW.

Tip: PS While the Palace doesn't technically allow people on their grounds if they aren't staying there...I'm not sure how they would know if you walked up from the path. One way around this is to book (at the welcome center info desk) a meal at the palace's dining room called the Crystal Room. (this is what the gentleman at the info desk told us to do. We didn't have the time to do this but might try next time).

Tip: When you are at the Valley of the Waves ask a staff person where the path that connects the VoW to the hotels starts. Locker Convenience: Worth the InvestmentTip: Lockers at the Valley of the Waves proved invaluable. We opted for a family locker at approximately 250 S African Rand, providing secure storage for our belongings throughout the day. The convenience of having a central location for our essentials allowed us to make the most of our water-filled adventures.

Tip: The key for the locker is a wristband. Put it on a key ring or something else that everyone can use it...otherwise, someone is going to have to run back and forth all day to open as people in your group need access. annoying!Time Management and Expectations:

Plan Wisely

Tip: We recommend arriving early (before 9 as it'll take some time to park, get a bus, get your tickets scanned, walk to the Valley of the Waves, get your locker, towels, etc....)

Tip: Visit the Valley of the Waves first thing when it's quiet and less hot. Move to the shady paths and have a lovely lunch at one of the hotels (we grabbed sushi at the Cascaedes Mykonos restaurant. Food was good but the service was SLOOOWW). Head back to the Valley of the Waves in the afternoon when it's a little cooler. Keep in mind that when you're ready to go (or the kids are starting to fall apart) you have at least 30-40 min trek till you are back at your car. (walking back to the welcome center, waiting for a bus, etc)

Tip: Bring an extra muslin you can use to create a tent/ something for the baby to nap under. Also bring whatever travel device baby is MOST likely to sleep in...whether that is a pram/ a carrier, etc. it's a LOT of walking!

Conclusion: Sun City - A fun day excursion WITH the right expectations, supplies, and food:) In the end, our day at Sun City proved to be a memorable diversion from our safari adventures in Pilanesberg. The Valley of the Waves offered a perfect blend of excitement and relaxation for our diverse group. Yet, the frustrations we encountered, from limited food options to communication gaps, taught us valuable lessons for future visits.

If you're considering a day at Sun City with a toddler, arm yourself with these insights: pre-purchase tickets, plan your meals strategically and be proactive in seeking information. Do not expect proactive tips from any staff member. Ask all the questions you need! Expect slow, leisurely service. Sun City is expansive with much to offer, and with the right preparations, it can be a highlight of your time in the Pilanesberg and break up your time in the bush.

Date of stay: January 2024
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank MsTravelTips2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mary Sefanyetso, Guest Services / Front Office at Sun City Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 January 2024

Dear Guest

We appreciate your comments and tips.
Apologies for the unsatisfactory experience you had at the resort.
Thank you for your rating.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 December 2023

Sun International's operationals at both the head office and all their hotels has become a hellhole! The level of incompetence and not getting hold of managers is becoming a constant. The ONLY property that still functions more or less is the Table Bay Hotel.
The incompetente of staff is above imagination! But the cherry on the rotten Sun International cake is Sun City and the entire golf management.

Room tip: Don't go to Sun City to play golf, management is incompetent on galactic proportions
Date of stay: December 2023
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Jean Pierre A
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mary Sefanyetso, Guest Services / Front Office at Sun City Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 4 January 2024

Dear Jean

Thank you for rating us, please send your concerns to
sunshare@suninternational.com

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 December 2023 via mobile

2023 will go down as the worst christmas carols by candlelight at Sun City Resort. The performers were so bad we left halfway. The artist did not know the words to the carols, they made such a sh1t show of Jingle Bells even trying ti read the lyrics from their phones. These were the worst performers ever that I have watched at Sun City

Date of stay: December 2023
Trip type: Travelled with family
Thank carloscW6132JF
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mary Sefanyetso, Guest Services / Front Office at Sun City Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 31 December 2023

Dear Carlos

Thank you for your review, we are sorry to hear how you feel. Your comments have been noted.
We appreciate your feedback as it will help us to improve on our service.
Best wishes for the new year.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 December 2023

The resort boasts stunning aesthetics, and its water slides were a hit with the kids, providing endless entertainment. However, the overall experience was somewhat diminished by the less-than-stellar service and limited dining options. Specifically, the Hard Rock Cafe fell short of our expectations. Additionally, the rooms, while adequate, were rather ordinary in terms of size and did not particularly stand out in terms of comfort or amenities.

Date of stay: November 2023
Trip type: Travelled with friends
2  Thank 514alanan
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mary Sefanyetso, Guest Services / Front Office at Sun City Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 23 December 2023

Dear 514alanan

Thank you for the review, we value your opinion.
We will direct your concern to relevant departments for a remedy.
we look forward to welcoming you back to Sun City Resort.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 November 2023

Busi at the SOHO hotel was very accommodating and quick to assist us moving between 2 bookings for the Nedbank Golf challenge. The resort is in great condition. We enjoyed every moment at Sun City. Lots to do.

Room tip: When the weather is great it’s the perfect place for families. From walks, swimming and watching the Nedbank golf. Perfect for a break away.
Date of stay: November 2023
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Relax12984210292
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mary Sefanyetso, Guest Services / Front Office at Sun City Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 13 November 2023

Dear Relax12984210292

Thank you for the great review, the comments about Busi will be escalated and echoed to her.
It gives us great pleasure to hear about the amazing service you received. We look forward to hosting you again.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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