Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Making Magical Family Memories with An Elf for Christmas - A Review

Christmas is such a special time of year and like most families we have our own little traditions that we like to do each year in the run up to Christmas Day. We enjoy going to pantomimes, Christmas Carol Concerts, creating festive craft and giving Christmas Eve boxes to each other, which all help to create childhood memories that I hope my children will look back on as adults.

However, one of our favourite traditions is welcoming an elf into our home on the 1st December, to help encourage kindness and good behaviour, as well as bringing a little mischievous fun into the household too. We were therefore delighted to be sent some gorgeous Elf for Christmas products, that will be sure to help us create some magical moments in the coming weeks.


An Elf for Christmas brings creativity, imagination and magic into any home and also help to promote good behaviour. The products are suitable for both boys and girls and have a really good quality design, as well as a super cute face and festive outfit.

The Elf for Christmas Magical Reward Kit comes beautifully presented and contains everything you could need to help create some special family memories with your elf. The contents include: An Elf for Christmas, an Elf Living Here Sign, 2 x Letters to Santa, 1 x Reward Chart, 1 x Sticker Sheet, 2 x Arrival Letters, 2 x Nice List Awards, 8 x Elf Cards and a Thank You Postcard.



We received a Christmas Boy Elf in our set, which is approximately 28cm tall with a friendly face, rosy cheeks and long arms that can be velcroed together. Our elf brought an arrival letter from Santa with him which told our family why he had been sent to our home.

The whole set is really lovely and the reward kit contains enough items to be shared between two siblings. However, if you have a larger family, then extra refill packs can also be purchased on the Elf for Christmas website.


We also received a collection of 24 Advent Letters and we have made sure that our elf has delivered one to Riley each day throughout December. Riley loves having these read out to him whilst he eats his breakfast and they are a really fantastic idea for the countdown to Christmas Day.

Each envelope is individually numbered and inside there are beautifully written notes, which together create a lovely daily story about the North Pole and the magic and mayhem that occurs in Santa's Workshop. My son really enjoys having these read out to him and each day we have hidden them with his elf in a different place for him to find.

These are currently sold out on the website, however there are some alternative personalised options still available if you would like your elf to deliver some lovely advent letters. 


To bring even more magic into our home, Riley and I have been enjoying reading this delightful book called Elf's First Adventure, which has the most gorgeous illustrations throughout the story. It is lovely to enjoy this together in an evening and we have read it so many times now that Riley knows it word for word. This is available on the website for only £4.79 at the moment, which makes it a lovely affordable item to read as a family, or perhaps as a stocking filler gift for Christmas.


We also received a stunning North Pole Sticker Scenes Play Set which included 4 different scenes, 12 background sheets and 12 sticker sheets with over 750 stickers. Riley absolutely loved playing with his festive sticker set and producing some adorable Christmas designs.

I feel that this set encourages children to create their very own North Pole scenes just how they imagine it to be, so they can tell their very own story using the stickers and background sheets. It is currently available on the website for only £4.79 which is really good value for money.


Overall we absolutely love the whole Elf for Christmas range and I feel that it can make welcoming an elf into your home such a magical experience for children. Riley absolutely loves seeing what his elf has got up to each day and the he loves reading the advent letters together each morning.

I feel that all the products are beautifully designed and really appealing to both children and parents. I have particularly enjoyed reading the story book with Riley most evenings and he loves the illustrations.

It is great that there are a whole host of accessories available to buy for our elf and I look forward to building on our collection and seeing what mischief (and kindness) our elf gets up to over the next couple of weeks.

If you would like to find out more about An Elf for Christmas, then you can visit the website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.elfforchristmas.co.uk
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/anelfforchristmas
Twitter - @elfforchristmas
Instagram - @elfforchristmas

* Disclaimer - We were gifted a selection of An Elf for Christmas products for the purpose of writing an honest review of the items. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Still Shopping for the Perfect Gift? Read our Christmas Gift Guide for Under 10's


Christmas is fast approaching and if you are still looking for the perfect gift, then check out our Christmas Gift Guide for Under 10's to give you some great ideas. Featuring STEM toys, parody slime making characters, craft products, collectibles and even winter clothing, this guide provides you with some fantastic suggestions.

1. Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys Building Set from Learning Resources

We love Learning Resources products in our home due to the fact that they offer fantastic educational toys and games that really aid development and skills in children. One of our favourite products is the Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys Building Set which encourages children to use creative thinking whilst building a bright and colourful jungle, packed full of monkeys.

The use of cogs and gears helps children to understand how they work together, as well as assisting in the development of fine motor skills. This set fully supports STEM learning and the clever features provide hands-on learning and plenty of play possibilities.


Consisting of over 100 pieces including sturdy plastic gears, monkey figures, vines, trees and bases, these can all be mixed and match to create countless combinations either as a solo or group activity.

Once creations have been completed, then these can be spun with a simple twist of a gear handle, making it an ideal and fun educational gift for young learners.

This item can be purchased for £46 on the Learning Resources website here. However if you would like to find out more about Learning Resources and their other products, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.learningresources.co.uk/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LearningResourcesLtdUK/
Twitter - @LRUK
Instagram - @learningresourcesuk

2. SuperZings - Rivals of Kaboom Playsets

We have only recently been introduced to the SuperZings and you may have seen our recent review here. However, we instantly fell in love these toys and their sturdy, colourful and great quality designs and feel that they should definitely be featured in our gift guide.

SuperZings are based on every day objects that can transform into Superheroes or Villains. They are a great collectible series that encourage children to use their imagination and create scenarios that bring their characters to life.


The blind bags are perfect as stocking filler gifts and there is a great selection of over 90 to collect, whilst the playsets are an ideal present to pop under the Christmas tree from Santa. They are currently available to purchase from good toy retailers including The Entertainer, Smyths Toys and Amazon.

If you would like to learn more about products in the SuperZings range, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - SuperZings.UK
Twitter - @superzings
Instagram - superzings_uk

3. Hangrees

We reviewed Hangrees earlier this year and since then I have purchased several more as birthday gifts and stocking filler presents due to their low RRP of only £9.99. The Hangrees are a great range of outrageous slime collectables that come in a selection of parody figures such as Harry Plopper, Chew-kaka and Fartnite. They look hilarious, but most of all they are great fun to play with and it is very easy to follow the simple instructions and create your own slime.


There are currently 20 Hangrees to collect in Series One and they are recommended for being suitable for children age 8+. They currently retail at £9.99 and are available to purchase from Smyths, The Entertainer, Amazon and other good toy retailers.

If you would like to find out more about Hangrees, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://thehangrees.mgae.com
Instagram - @TheHangrees

4. Aquabeads Box of Fun Safari Set

We have enjoyed countless amounts of Aquabeads sets over the years and they are always a popular Christmas gift, due to the great range of products available at a cost to suit all budgets. However, we particularly love the Aquabeads Box of Fun Safari Set that we reviewed earlier this year, as with an RRP of only £19.99 it offers great value for money and contains everything you need to get making some fantastic Aquabeads creations.

There are so many choices of different animals to make and the box is jam packed with over 3000 jewel and solid beads, a bead tray, playmat, bead stands, water sprayer, flip tray and bead tray, as well as the lovely blue storage container to keep everything safe inside when not in use.


Aquabeads products can be found at most good toy retailers including Smyths Toys, The Entertainer and Amazon.

If you would like to find out more about the Aquabeads range, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - facebook.com/aquabeads
Twitter - @aquabeadsuk
Instagram - instagram.com/aquabeadsuk


5. Bright Eyes Hats

I have decided to include this product as part of our gift guide, as although not a toy, it is a lovely item of clothing perfect for children and aimed at keeping them safe and visible when outside. Riley was gifted a Rusty the Raccoon hat last month and I was so impressed with the design and quality, that I feel it definitely deserves a mention.

Bright Eyes Hats not only look great, but also have a fantastic safety feature too in the form of LED lights located within the eyes. These lights can be switched on and off when needed and ensures that your child can be seen safely when outside. There is the option to have the lights static, or on a flashing mode and they can be seen from over 200 metres away, with a bright beam of over 10 metres.


Designs in the range currently include Rusty the Raccoon, Cassie the Cat, Una the Unicorn and Amanda the Panda. The hats can currently be purchased directly from the Bright Eyes website starting from £17.95.

*Disclaimer - This guide contains some items that we have previously been gifted, however their inclusion in this gift guide was based on our honest opinion of the products and our genuine like for the items. Details provided such as prices/stockists etc are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Winter Funland at EventCity, Manchester - A Review

On Thursday evening my family and I were invited along to experience Winter Funland 2019, which is being held at EventCity Manchester right through the festive period and up until the 5th January 2020. This Christmas extravaganza follows on from last years highly successful event, which saw a fantastic attendance of over 85,000 people, who all came along to enjoy the festivities. Prior to the attraction opening, Winter Funland event director, Andy Windmill, said: "Last years event was a phenomenal success and this year promises to be bigger, brighter and full of even more festive fun. We have pulled out all of the stops to ease queues for Santa, quicker service for food and of course - brought in even more exciting funfair rides."

Tickets for Winter Funland include access to a whole host of attractions such as the giant indoor funfair, a fantastic Christmas pantomime, a magical festival circus, Santa's grotto and a wonderful ice-skating rink for guests to enjoy. With the expectations set of a Winter Funland even better than before, my children and I couldn't wait to visit and find out exactly what was on offer for families to experience.


On arrival we made our way straight to the food court and with three hungry children to feed, I was hoping that there would be something that they liked. I needn't have been worried as there was a fantastic variety of food available for sale, ranging from children's meal favourites to curries, hot filled baps to yorkshire wraps and tasty burgers and hotdogs. The prices were slightly high, but in line with other attractions and the portion sizes were fair for the cost. We purchased two large Bratwurst sausage hot dogs, one kids meal of chicken nuggets and chips with a chocolate milk drink, a bacon cheeseburger, a beefburger and a portion of chips which all came to £32. As well as the main food court, there was also a pick and mix stall, a bar area serving alcohol and a slush factory.


Once we had enjoyed something to eat, my children excitedly ran to some of the fairground rides. They were pleased to see some of their favourites, with Riley being very happy to spot the flying elephants. There was plenty to choose from and we loved wandering around from ride to ride in such a family friendly atmosphere. Sociable elves could also be spotted regularly saying hello to the children and making them feel really welcome.


We really liked the variety of rides available and that there was something to suit all ages. I was also pleased to see that there was a good mix of both traditional and modern rides, with popular favourites such as the dodgems and a carousel also in attendance. All of the ride operators we met were really friendly, particularly the gentleman running the planes who was great with my children, along with a lady running the car ride near the entrance, who made sure that all the children got off the ride safely. A welcoming smile can make all the difference, so it was great to see staff being so helpful and polite.


In addition to the rides, there is a wonderful ice skating rink for visitors aged 4 and above, where you can glide gracefully across the ice. However if you are a bit unsteady on your skates, then there are staff on standby to give you advice, as well as useful skating aids to give you a helping hand.

For those who enjoy some added excitement, then there is a thrilling festive circus to enjoy, which is sure to mesmerise the whole family. Featuring hilarious clowns and a host of talented performers, a trip to the circus is sure to entertain.


Visits to Santa's Grotto are also included in the ticket price, however for an additional cost, you can also purchase a gift or photograph. With the grotto being very popular with families, the event organisers have listened to feedback from last year and implemented some changes to improve the experience. I think it is great when companies listen to their customers and I think the displaying of queue times, the option to purchase fast passes (at the time of booking tickets), as well as the grotto being opened 30 minutes prior to the session start times, will all be of benefit to guests.

The grotto has been well planned out for those important memory making moments with Father Christmas, making it a truly magical experience for children. Visits to Santa's Grotto will only be available up until Christmas Eve so please bear this in mind when booking tickets. The queue for the grotto will close one hour before the session ends.


If all this wasn't enough, then there is also a Christmas Panto, providing entertainment to audiences young and old. Telling the story of an Arctic Adventure, this fabulous festive treat offers something for everyone to enjoy and is a fantastic addition to Winter Funland 2019!

Overall we had a great time at Winter Funland and found there to be a huge range of rides, shows and activities to choose from. The staff on the rides were really friendly, as were the excitable elves who could be found wandering around the event. There was a good amount of security who had a very visible presence throughout the evening, which I think is very important at present, especially at large events such as this. Everything is well laid out and despite being busy, it didn't feel crowded at any point and my children rarely had to wait more than a couple of minutes to go on a ride. The atmosphere was fun and festive, making it a great place to enjoy some family fun together this Christmas.


If you would like to find out more about Winter Funland, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website: www.winterfunland.com
Facebook: facebook.com/winterfunland
Twitter: @winterfunland
Instagram: @winterfunland

Event Details

Event - Winter Funland
Venue - EventCity (opposite Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Trafford City, Manchester
Dates - Various dates from 6th December 2019 to 5th January 2020
Times - Times vary, so please visit their website for the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets are priced at £23.50 per person with under 3's admitted free of charge. Fastpass tickets to visit Father Christmas at the Santa's Grotto are also available from the website.
Parking - There are over 3000 free parking spaces available


*Disclaimer - My family and I were provided with complimentary wristbands for the VIP night, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience at the event. All opinions and photographs are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the attractions own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday, 6 December 2019

SuperZings Series 3 and Rivals of Kaboom Playsets - Toy Review

We love a good collectible in our home, especially when there are accompanying play sets that allow you to build and play with your collection. We were therefore really excited to learn more about the fantastic range of SuperZings toys, which are based on everyday objects that can transform into Superheroes or Villains. Created by Magic Box Toys, they are a great collectible series that encourage children to use their imagination and create scenarios that bring their characters to life.

We were recently sent a selection of blind bags, a Superzings Hero Monster Roller Truck, a SuperZings Kazoom Lab Battle Play Set and a SuperZings Power Assault Tower to review and Riley couldn't wait to start testing them out.


Firstly, Riley absolutely loves blind bags and gets very excited when he has the opportunity to open some. They create that feeling of intrigue and suspense as you get to see which character you have inside. It was therefore no surprise that Riley was absolutely delighted with his SuperZings blind bags and he very quickly started to open them. Much to our amazement he received no duplicates at all, so we were both really happy with each of the figures enclosed.


SuperZings are now in their third series and have quickly become a popular choice of collectible, and it is easy to see why. The blind bags are ideal pocket money purchases with an RRP of only 80p per pack and there is a great selection of over 90 to collect.

These brightly coloured and cleverly designed collectibles are aimed at children aged between 4 to 7 years old and when combined with the play sets, they can encourage a whole world of storytelling. Riley absolutely loved getting creative and imagining a whole variety of adventures as the Superheroes and Villains took on challenges against one another.


The collectibles are based on everyday objects, so it is easy for children to see what their object relates to and identify it. We absolutely loved the great range of names for each of them and Riley checked through each of his figures to see if he had managed to obtain any ultra-rares. He also enjoyed checking each of them to see whether he had a Superhero or Villain. The Superheros each have white eyes and the Villains have yellow eyes, so it is very simple to tell the difference between the two. There are also team leaders and the Ultra Rare Mr King to look out for!

Riley didn't receive any of the team leaders or the Ultra Rare, however he was really happy with the selection he had and immediately set up his playsets and figures to start their escapades.


The first item that caught Riley's attention was the SuperZings Rivals of Kaboom Monster Roller, due to its brightly coloured and chunky design. I had read the caption on the front which stated 'Catch the Villains' so Riley was hoping that the figures would fit inside and indeed they could.

In addition to the Monster Roller vehicle, you also receive two SuperZings which can sit inside the vehicle to drive it. We found the opening hatch slightly stiff to open the first couple of times, but once Riley had started playing with it regularly it was absolutely fine and you can simply lift this up to place your figures inside.


However, the best bit, is the vehicles ability to capture the villains, using its innovative roller system underneath. Riley placed his Superheroes in the driving hatch and then lined up a series of villains, which he then drove over with the truck. The roller collects them and traps them in the SuperZings Monster Roller cage. This can hold a maximum of 10 figures at any one time and to remove them you simply pull the lever down on the front of the truck, which will open the bars to release the villains.


Riley absolutely loved capturing the villains and it was great to see him using his imagination as he drove the vehicle around the floor. It is a really good quality toy and feels very sturdy and strong, so it is perfect for little hands and SuperZings adventures. The Monster Roller also has another fun feature in the form of a built-in blaster that can be used to fire at the villains, helping to create yet another element of play. It has an RRP of £29.99 which I think is a good price for this product.


Whilst Riley was busy playing with the Superzings Hero Monster Roller Truck, I set about putting together the SuperZings Kazoom Lab Battle Playset. Self assembly is required for this, but it only took a few moments as it was simply a case of slotting the pieces together, so in no time at all the playset was ready for use.


The SuperZings Kazoom Lab Battle Playset was a really good size and it also included a further two Superzings collectibles which were Enigma and Professor K. Riley instantly noticed that there were a number of great features within the lab, so he started to explore it with his figures and began pressing the buttons and pulling the levers to see what each part could do.


He found a number of hidden traps and thought that the super-cannon was great. The set also included a rocket ship vehicle and robot to add to the fun which Riley was really pleased with. He noticed that there were plenty of platforms to place your collectibles on, so he brought in some more Superheroes and Villains to join in with the battle and displayed them all in various parts of the playset.


There is plenty to play with and explore, so with an RRP of £40 I think it does represent good value for money. It has lots of features to enjoy and Riley loved pressing the button on the top of platform that would reveal the hidden Kaboom.

The last set Riley received was the SuperZings Power Assault Tower which has an RRP of £19.99. This is a relatively small playset, but still has plenty to be enjoyed. It includes the Power Assault Tower, a ramp, skateboard and two SuperZing collectibles Metalhead and Skateboy.


Using the ramp you can launch different SuperZings, by placing them on the skateboard and pulling the lever to set the height. You then simple flip the launcher behind the skateboard and watch as your SuperZings fly through the sky to reach the target.  Riley absolutely loved trying to aim them at the tower to get them into the building. This is yet another great item for encouraging imaginative play, as well as helping to improve hand to eye coordination.


Again it was a really good quality item and its bright design and chunky hard wearing plastic, makes it ideal to withstand regular play. It is also a great place to store your SuperZings when not in use, as the cage at the front can hold quite a few inside.


Overall we were really impressed with the SuperZings Playsets. This was our first experience with these products and Riley absolutely loved them, especially the SuperZings Hero Truck Monster Roller. Riley really enjoyed opening all the blind bags and it was great to see the excitement on his face as he opened each pack and built up his collection. I thought that all the toys seemed really good quality and I liked the colour and design of each product. I think that SuperZings will make excellent stocking fillers, especially the blind bags, whilst the playsets will be perfect Christmas presents to put under the tree for Christmas Day.

If you would like to find out more about SuperZings, then you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

YouTube - SuperZings
Instagram - superzings_uk
Twitter - @superzings
Facebook - SuperZings.UK


*Disclaimer - We were gifted these products for the purpose of writing an honest review of the toys. Thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Creating Gummy Sweets with Bandai Foodie Surprise! - Review

Foodie Surprise is a brand new craft toy collectible from Bandai, that combines the fun of getting crafty and creative with a collectible treat. It is the world's first sweet making collectible and the DIY sweet making kits come with everything you need to get started in making your very own gummy sweets.

There are currently four main Foodie Surprise Food Carts to collect which are the Ice Cream Cart, the Pizza Cart, the Sushi Cart and the Bubble Tea Cart.  Each of these come complete with a mould for creating your sweets, along with a sweetie storage collectible containing at least 10 surprises inside. As well as the Food Carts, you can also purchase Mini Collectible Take Out Sets, which are smaller than the main Food Carts, but still contain all you need to get started.


Riley was sent several products from the range to review and he couldn't wait to get started making his very own sweets. We began with the Foodie Surprise Food Cart, as this was the first item that caught Riley's attention and we opened the box to find out what was inside. We had received an Ice Cream Cart and enclosed within the box was:

  • 1 Food Cart
  • 1 Candy Storage Container
  • Numerous packs of Candy Powder
  • 1 Collector's Poster
  • 1 Eye Dropper
  • 1 Mixing Tool
  • 1 Mixing/Measuring Cup
  • Vac Form Mould Trays
  • 1 Ball Chain
  • A set of instructions

We began by having a look through the instructions to get a good idea of what we needed to do, before beginning to create the first part of our Foodie Surprise sweets. The first item we created were the waffle bowls and we filled the measuring jug with water up to the recommended fill line in the guide.


We then added the peach coloured powder and mixed the solution together. We then poured this into the moulds and allowed them to set. Next up was the cherries, so I gave the tools a quick wash and then followed the same process of filling the measuring cup to the guide line and adding the red powder to create our gummy cherries. It was then the same process for the gummy bananas so we were starting to get the hang of things.

The ice cream scoops were slightly different as this involved rolling the mixture into a ball using your hands, much to Riley's delight. We did this for both the Vanilla ice cream scoops and the Strawberry scoops.

With our sweet treats now starting to take shape we commenced the final part of the process to create the drizzle topping, which was really easy to do and Riley was really pleased with his finished Foodie Surprise Gummy Sweets. These could be placed into the food cart, which involved a minimal amount of self assembly and our set was then complete. Our first attempt turned out well with a jelly like texture, so our attention then turned to the Takeouts Box.


Our smaller Foodie Surprise Takeouts Box contained a Foodie Surprise Donut Takeout Set, Confectionary Powder, Moulds, an Eye Dropper, Measuring Cup and a Mixing Tool. The instructions were simple enough, however they are visual with images as opposed to text and personally I prefer written instructions to ensure that we are following the process accurately.


Our Donut set involved three different elements that we needed to make, starting with the donut dough base and then followed by the green and white icing. Riley really enjoyed it and he loved the fact that he was making his own sweets which made our efforts completely worth while. The process is a little time consuming and our donut dough gummy seemed to have a different consistency to the gummy sweets we had created previously, so I was a little unsure as to whether we had done this one correctly and without a written guide to refer to, it was hard to tell.

Overall Riley enjoyed attempting to make some gummy sweets that we could eat and it was fun to try a completely different kind of creative activity. There are 4 food carts to collect in Series One which come in two different colour ways for each theme and I like the fact that the food carts can also be used as storage for the sweets or moulds once you have finished your sweetie-making craft. Riley really enjoyed creating gummy sweets himself and then displaying them in his food cart. He would then pretend that he was running a sweet shop and would invite his brother and sister to come and sample his food. We found the Foodie Surprise Food Cart sweets turned out much better for us than the Takeouts Box, but Riley enjoyed using both items. The products are recommended for children aged 6+ and I think that this is accurate with parental help and supervision. 

The Foodie Surprise Food Cart has an RRP of £15.00, whilst the Foodie Surprise Takeouts Box has an RRP of £8.00. Both of these items are available for sale from toy retailers including The Entertainer, Smyths Toys and Amazon.


*Disclaimer - We were gifted these products for the purpose of writing an honest review of the items and our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Blackpool Tower Circus Pantomime Review - Pinocchio

Last weekend we were invited along to visit Blackpool Tower Circus and review their 2019 pantomime production of Pinocchio. My family and I are regular visitors to pantomimes throughout the North West and often review quite a few during the year, but this one was of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons, so we happily accepted the invitation.

Firstly, we have never seen a pantomime version of Pinocchio before and secondly I was very intrigued as to how a circus could combine with a festive show and make it enjoyable. I therefore told the children that we were off to watch a pantomime with a difference and we excitedly made our way to Blackpool.

There was plenty of parking nearby and the Blackpool Tower Circus is very easy to find. We had tickets booked for the 1pm show, so I collected these from the ticket desk approximately 20 minutes before the show was due to start. I was surprised to see that seats were not allocated, so as we made our way to the circus entrance, I was a little worried in case there were not five seats together. I needn't have worried however as there was plenty of seating and we had no problem whatsoever in finding somewhere with a good view.

The seats were comfortable and well raised, so even if a really tall person was to sit in front of you, then you would still be able to see all of the show very clearly. The circus cast were already in the ring when we arrived offering face painting or the chance to buy some plate spinners and flashing lights. We were told by the ringmaster that the show would start promptly so if you missed your chance to purchase goods before the show, then there would be a second chance during the interval.

The running time of the show is 2 hours with an interval, so we got comfy with our drinks and snacks and waited for the show to begin. We had no idea what to expect, so my husband and I were just as excited as the kids to see how the story would be interpreted and performed.


The show was a quite a loose retelling of the story, but featured all the main characteristics with an added modern twist. All the pantomime elements that you would expect featured throughout, whilst being cleverly combined with outstanding circus skills. From the very beginning we were fascinated and I loved watching Riley's reaction to some of the acts as they took to the ring.

The performers are all extremely talented and the show features the fabulous clowns Mooky and Mr Boo who did not disappoint. In the first half alone, we were treated to jaw dropping stunts, comedy antics, incredible fast paced dance routines and a stunning and innovative water scene that was simply spectacular.

Riley was mesmerised as we watched Pinocchio's adventures and he laughed continuously throughout the show. Mooky the Clown was marvellous as the little wooden puppet and we felt that the whole production was really clever.


During the interval we purchased some ice cream which was £3 per tub and waited patiently for the show to recommence. The second half brought even more acts of strength, skill and stamina, whilst Riley repeatedly kept saying WOW each time someone performed.

Our highlight though was the 12 Days of Christmas act, which is one of our favourite parts of any pantomime. We always love seeing which props are involved and this rendition was no exception. It was hilarious from start to finish and Riley screamed with excitement when he saw all the water guns!

Overall we absolutely loved Blackpool Tower Circus' version of Pinocchio. It was entertaining from start to finish and also had quite a few heart in mouth moments, when the performers were completing incredible acts high up in the air. We loved how different it was to other pantomimes we have visited and my children thought it was fantastic. There was a great range of variety during the show with some mesmerising performances, which provided a really enjoyable experience. I would happily recommend the Blackpool Tower Circus Pantomime to others and I have no doubt that we will definitely visit again in the future.

Listing Details

Show - Pinocchio
Address - Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 4BJ
Dates - Pinocchio is being performed on various dates up until the 19th January 2020. You can find out more about dates and show times here.
Website - https://www.theblackpooltower.com/attractions/blackpool-tower-circus/
Tickets - Ticket prices vary depending on age and seating preference, but you can find a full list of ticket prices here.


*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Feeling Festive at Coral Island Blackpool - A Review

If you are a regular reader to the blog, then you may remember that back in April, we paid a visit to Coral Island in Blackpool. We had a fabulous family day out and we all had a fantastic time playing on the rides and the machines, as well as enjoying a treat in the restaurants. Therefore, when I recently saw an advertisement for the Santa's Grotto, I knew that my children would love it, so we organised another visit to this popular seafront arcade.

We began our day with a full cooked breakfast at Peggy's Snack Bar. They have a great choice of breakfast items on offer and having eaten here during our last visit, we knew that the food was good quality as well as being great value for money. Coral Island currently have a 'Kids Eat Free' offer on throughout their restaurants, so children under 10 can get a free children's meal with each full paying adult meal, which is great. We purchased four full english breakfasts since my older children have adult appetites, and Riley enjoyed his free children's breakfast which consisted of toast, beans and sausage. We also bought some hot chocolates, which my daughter claimed was the nicest hot chocolate she had ever tasted, along with some fresh orange juice for me and a cappuchino for my husband. The service was fast and friendly and there were plenty of seats and tables available to choose from.

Once we had finished in Peggy's Snack Bar, it was time for some fun, so after collecting our tickets for the Santa's Grotto, we spent some time in the arcade enjoying some of the games and rides, before heading over to see Santa at 12pm.


For only £7.50 per ticket (or £5 for under 3's), each child gets to spend some quality time with Santa, a goody bag filled with tickets and gifts, tokens for the camel derby and rides, as well as the chance to choose your very own gift from Santa's workshop. Tickets can be purchased in person on the day, or alternatively they can be booked in advance online, however a small booking fee does apply. I thought that this price offered excellent value for money, so we couldn't wait to see if this was just as good as it sounded.


In my honest opinion, it actually far exceeded my expectations and as my children and I joined the queue, Riley excited looked around him at all of the decorations and reindeer. Everywhere he looked there were lights twinkling, mischevious elves hiding and Christmas trees galore. It was beautifully decorated and created a lovely festive atmosphere. We queued for around twenty minutes before it was our turn, which we were quite happy with as there was plenty to look at in the queue and we enjoyed chatting to Riley about what he was going to ask for off Santa. We could also see that families weren't being rushed, so we knew that we were going to get a nice amount of time with Santa to make it all the more special.


Once we reached the front of the queue a friendly and welcoming elf, invited us into Santa's workshop and Riley took a seat on the small bench next to him. Riley absolutely loves dinosaurs and had won a keyring on one of the machines earlier, so he began to show Santa and started talking all things prehistoric. Santa was absolutely brilliant with him and they had a good chat all about dinosaurs and the toys that Riley likes to play with. He asked him what he would like for Christmas and Riley asked for a large dinosaur playset, which Santa said he would try his best to do. The conversation flowed so easily and Riley, who is normally quite shy, really engaged well and thoroughly enjoyed the moment. He had a huge smile on his face the whole time and it really helped to make our visit quite magical.

My eldest two (although now past the age of believing in Santa) also had tickets, so that they could join in with the experience for Riley. My eldest son took his seat on the bench and we had a good laugh as Santa made some jokes and chatted to him in a way that was suitable for his age. This was great for us as it meant that my eldest two also really enjoyed it and each of my children left the workshop with huge smiles on their faces.


However, before we left, we were provided with a gift bag that contained some prize tickets and sweets and each of my children could also select a gift from the workshop. Riley chose a Car Garage Playset, Emma chose a giant Elf on the Shelf which is now perched on the top of one of our Christmas trees, whilst Ben chose a Car Racing Playset which he is donating to charity following a recent Christmas Toy Appeal that he saw before our visit.


Following our visit to Santa, we decided to try our luck at a game of bingo. We had been lucky enough to have won some games on our previous visit, so we were hoping that we could possibly win again. The bingo boards are all touch screen, which really helped Riley as he simply needed to tap his board and the numbers would auto-mark. The prize display looked fabulous and we loved how there was a Christmas and Winter theme with Santa toys and elves in abundance.


Ben managed to win his first game and received a prize ticket worth 50 points. The more points you collect then the bigger the prize you can claim and there is a great selection to choose from. Unfortunately we didn't win any other games, so I was a little worried that he wouldn't be able to find anything for 50 points, but there was still quite a few small prizes that were suitable and in the end he opted for a good quality Blackpool themed pen.


After our games of bingo, the children decided that they wanted to use their Santa's Grotto voucher to claim their free go on the Camel Derby. This is great fun and so simple to play, so it is suitable for the whole family to enjoy. All you have to do is roll balls as quickly as you can and get them into the coloured holes. The more balls you score, then the faster your camel runs in the race, so you have to be quick to compete against the other players and be the first to the finish line. Emma was delighted to win this on her first go, despite playing against several other people and she exchanged her win for a small cuddly toy.

We spent a further hour playing on the various 2p machines and ticket machines, to try and win as many tickets as possible to exchange in the shop. My children absolutely love 2p machines and they could spend hours playing on them. The machines at Coral Island are well stocked with plenty of keyrings or sweets on the edges to try and win. Ben and Riley won 18 prizes from the 2p machines alone and are now the proud owners of various themed keyrings.

Each of my children also had tickets to exchange at the prize shop, so before we left we used the ticket eaters to count our tickets and print a receipt. We then took the receipt to the prize shop and each of my children chose some prizes up to the value of the tickets. Coral Island has such a great selection of prizes that there really is something for everyone.


Due to having a full english breakfast at Peggy's Snack Bar earlier in the morning, we had skipped lunch, so were looking forward to a filling dinner before heading home. We ate in the Buccaneer Family Bar and Restaurant which is located within Coral Island and offers a great selection of family favourite meals to enjoy.

The menu is extensive and the Kids Eat Free offer applies in this restaurant too. It was very busy on the day of our visit, but we asked a member of staff to help us find a table and they soon found one available for us. We each took some time to look over the menu, before my husband went to the bar to place the order. The meals we ordered were 2 x Buccaneer Burgers, Steak and Chips, Scampi and Chips and my youngest had Chicken Nuggets from the children's menu. 

Despite the restaurant being full, we found the service to be very quick and we were served within 20 minutes. The food was absolutely delicious and we were all happy with our choices. A waitress also came over part way into the meal to check that everything was ok, which it most definitely was.


Overall we had a wonderful festive day at Coral Island Blackpool. We absolutely loved the Christmas Grotto and were so impressed with Santa. He was fabulous with the children and knew how to interact well with the different age groups. Riley loved chatting to him about dinosaurs, whilst my older two children enjoyed just having a laugh with him as he told some jokes and a funny story about him and Mrs Claus. His elf assistant was just as friendly and welcoming and this made for a fantastic family experience. I feel that the ticket price offers excellent value for money and there was a good selection of gifts to choose from. As well as the Santa's grotto, we enjoyed playing on the gamesm rides and 2p machines, and we found the whole place to be well maintained and immaculately kept. If you are looking for somewhere fun to visit this winter, that also has a wonderful Santa's Grotto, then Coral Island Blackpool is most definitely the place to be!

Santa's Grotto will be open every weekend until the 22nd December between 11am to 6pm. Tickets are available to purchase on the day subject to availability, or alternatively can be booked in advance online.

If you would like to find out more about Coral Island in Blackpool, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.coralisland.co.uk
Facebook - facebook.com/coralislandblackpool
Instagram - @CoralIslandBlackpool
Twitter - @LoveCoralIsland


*Disclaimer - AD - We were welcomed as guests of Coral Island for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Our breakfast in Peggy's was purchased by ourselves. Opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.