Its worth making the effort to get there early: a) because the later you are the further away from the castle you are in the car park, b) because the 'Opening of the Portcullis' is at 1030 and, c) its not a cheap attraction and you really want to spend as much time in the grounds as possible.
Car parking is pretty straightforward with very organised parking attendants directing operations. Its free to get in but costs £6 to get out. (Don't forget to buy a token as you leave the castle or you'll have to trek back up the hill to get one).
The opening of the portcullis is entertaining and educational and obviously follows the same script every day but this is an observation rather than a criticism. The same chap also does a longbow archery demonstration and operates the trebuchet firing flaming balls of goodness knows what down by the river. Both events take place morning and afternoon but obviously not the portcullis - once its open for the day that's it!
The view from the top of Guy's tower is well worth the trek and the main castle building is crammed full of medieval weaponry, armour and all sorts of interesting stuff. There's plenty to keep children amused - have a go archery, hunting bird demos, dungeons and noisy peacocks. There's plenty of food and drink outlets - not cheap but not outrageous either. You could save quite a bit on the overall cost by taking a picnic lunch.
The castle is a great day out for young and old if a little expensive to get in. The grounds are immaculately clean; the place was very busy when we visited but at no time did I see any litter blowing around or an overflowing bin.
Well worth a visit but set aside the whole day.
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