Friday 28 April 2017

New Brighton Seaside Festival - Competition

As a family we love festivals that are suitable for both parents and children, and find that they are a great way of finding new activities to experience whilst enjoying a friendly atmosphere with great music too. We were therefore really pleased to find out about a new festival only half an hour away from us that is being held over the the May Spring Bank Holiday (27th to 29th May) called The New Brighton Seaside Festival.

It will take place in a huge space in front of Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton Beach, Marine Lake, and the Promenade and will be the first large scale seaside festival of its kind in the area. It is the brainchild of Liverpool event management company Orb Events; the team behind some of the City region's largest festivals including the award-winning Liverpool Loves, Liverpool Pride and Farm Feast!

The New Brighton Seaside Festival is a dynamic family feel festival that celebrates the hidden charm, culture and heritage of New Brighton. In it's inaugural year, The New Brighton Seaside Festival is delighted to be embracing a modern vision for the area and bringing in an eclectic programme to locals and visitors alike. Expect everything from storytelling to Oyster shucking competitions; with lots of live music and even a pirate puppy parade.

There will be a diverse range of events including live entertainment, street food, chef demos, family activities, and a host of seaside themed attractions. A full children's activity programme will also be taking place each day that includes a Vintage Funfair, Punch and Judy style puppet shows - and there will also be lots of exciting workshops by the Junior Chef's Academy.

For ticket information or to find out more about the activities on offer, then you can visit their website here:

Tickets can be purchased from: TicketQuarter with single day tickets costing £5 for an adult or £3 for a child, and weekend tickets costing £12 for an adult and £6 for a child.

Updates can also be found on the New Brighton Seaside Festival social media channels which are:

Twitter - @NBSeasideFest
Facebook - NBSeasideFestival

To celebrate The New Brighton Seaside Festival, we have a fantastic competition for our readers, offering you the chance to win a one day family ticket. If you would like to enter then please do so using the Gleam form below:

Win a Family Ticket to The New Brighton Seaside Festival

Terms and Conditions: Due to the time restrictive nature of the prize, winners must reply with 48 hours of being informed of being the winner so that the tickets can be sent out in time. If the winner does not reply within 48 hours then a new winner from the remaining eligible entries shall be picked. The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over. The prize is for 1 (one) family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) to 1 (one) day of the New Brighton Seaside Festival. Travel expenses/accommodation costs are NOT included. The winner's details shall be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfilment.

Thursday 27 April 2017

Thomas & Friends™ Adventures Shark Escape Playset! - A Review

If you follow the blog regularly you will have seen that we recently visited the fabulous Thomas Land at Drayton Manor over the Easter holidays, and as such Riley is very much into everything Thomas & Friends related at the moment.

It was therefore a lovely surprise for Riley to be offered the chance to test and review the new Thomas & Friends™ Adventures Shark Escape! playset, which is the latest track set from Fisher Price. I told him that he had a surprise coming in the post for him, and so he eagerly waited for the post man over the next few days. Once it arrived I told him to close his eyes and I placed it in front of him in order to catch his very first impressions of it on camera. As you can see, the smile says it all!

The box is really eye catching as it features Thomas trying to escape from the jaws of a shark. The main graphics show Thomas riding through the waves with the help of Harold the Helicopter and escaping from the shark. This gives you a basic idea of how you can play with the toy, with a much clearer image of the full track set up on the bottom right hand corner. You can also find the age recommendation of 3+ in the corner, and just above this is an advisory message stating that adult assembly is required. 

The top right hand side of the box is where you can find the die cast Thomas figure and the plastic Harold the Helicopter figures. It is great that these are visible on the outside as it gives you a better understanding of both the quality and size of the products included in the set.

The reverse of the box gives you a much clearer understanding of how to play with the toy, and there is a large image showing a young child playing happily with the toy. There are also a series of small pictures that highlight the main features of the toy which are the 'Lift Crate', releasing Thomas into the 'Looping Wave', and then watching him escape from the 'Chomping Jaws' of the shark.

The bottom left of the box features a list of contents, although this was a little hard to read due to it being small and overlapping both the blue and white colours, but it included:
  • 1 Playset (Assembly required)
  • 1 Engine
  • 1 Vehicle

There was also a small advertisement for another product that is sold separately and also available for purchase.

On opening the box we found numerous pieces and I was a little bit apprehensive of putting it all together. Self assembly is definitely not one of my best skills, however there are no tools required for putting it together and the instructions that were provided were relatively straightforward. There were three large parts and three bags which enclosed the different pieces of track.

The plastic casing on the outside of the box housed the character figures and these were very easy to remove from the packaging.

I felt that the two Thomas character toys were well made and had great detail. The Thomas train is made of diecast metal so is very hardwearing, and Harold the Helicopter is made of plastic and clips easily on to the lift carriage.

Following the instructions I managed to build it all in ten minutes. Some pieces were slightly harder to slot together than others, and the small blue wave next to the shark needed a bit of pressure to clip it into place. It wasn't anything too difficult though and it was great to not have to mess around with tools or batteries to put it all together making the process very simple overall.

Once built, my first impressions of the product were that it seemed a really good sturdy toy. The track and loop wasn't at all flimsy, and this reassured me that it could be played with over and over again without falling to pieces. The loop connected well together and didn't wobble at all even when Thomas was riding through the wave at speed.

Riley was able to understand the concept of how it worked straight away and quickly placed Thomas into the lift carriage. With the help of Harold the helicopter Riley raised the lift carriage into position, ready to release Thomas into the wave.

One thing I particularly liked was that when the lift carriage has been raised, it stays in place, so you don't need to worry about having to hold it and release Thomas at the same time. Riley was very excited to open the lift hatch to let Thomas go, and we were both surprised at just how fast he travelled through the loop-de-loop and escaped the sharks jaws.

Once Thomas had escaped the sharks jaws then Riley did find the remainder of the track slightly plain, however he added other pieces from track sets we already had to make some tunnels, and also created a seaside in the middle of the track where he pretended all his toy figures were on holiday watching Thomas and Friends.

He also realised that some of his other toy cars and vehicles were the same size as the track and so he also enjoyed lining all the vehicles up and pretending they were all on a mission to save Thomas.  On the reverse of the packaging is the statement "Go wherever your imagination takes you" and that is certainly what Riley has done with this toy.

Riley enjoys playing with it on its own, but also by combining it with his other toys which was really nice to see. There is also a spare piece of track on one corner that allows you to connect it to other tracks in the range. This is a great idea, as it means you can build your collection up, and I bet the sets look amazing when all connected together with lots of different adventures to be had.

Overall we both really liked this product and felt it was lots of fun and really good quality. Although there was a large section of plain track, this allowed for a child to use their own imagination to turn the remainder of the track into whatever they wanted it to be, and if you already own other Thomas and Friendsproducts then you can combine these together to make even more adventures. Riley enjoyed introducing some of his other toys to the play set, and since it arrived it has definitely been his most played with toy over the past week. It was easy to build and required no tools or batteries which are both big plus points in my opinion.

The RRP of the product is £29.99 and it has several key features which are:

  • Lift the crate to send Thomas down the loop-de-loop, translucent track wave
  • Shark jaws chomp as Thomas zooms past
  • Helps develop gross motor and sensory skills, and helps inspire imagination
If you would like to purchase your own Thomas & Friends™ Adventures Shark Escape! playset, then this is available from most good toy retailers or can be purchased here: Thomas & Friends™ Adventures Shark Escape!

*Disclaimer - We were provided with this toy on a complimentary basis for the purpose of providing and honest review of the product. All opinions, photographs and views are my own unless otherwise stated.

Thursday 20 April 2017

Family Fun with Dig In! - Review & Competition

As a family, we love playing games together. They are the perfect form of entertainment for in the evening, or on rainy days, and so we were really happy to be given the opportunity to try out one of Drumond Park's most popular games, Dig In!

The concept of the game is really simple, yet as we found when we started to play, it is also extremely challenging and frantically fun. It is a great test of hand to eye coordination and an enjoyable game for the whole family to enjoy.

The product comes packaged in a square box, which has been designed in a colourful and eye catching way. You can immediately understand what the game will involve from the images used on the packaging, and it is marketed as being "The great game of frantic finding fun!". It is recommended as being suitable for ages 8 +, which I can only assume is because of the small pieces involved, as I allowed Riley (age 4) to join in with supervision and he was able to understand how to play and really enjoyed it just as much as the rest of us.

The reverse of the box, provides further instructions on how to play, so it is great that you can find the majority of the information you need on the actual packaging, enabling you to make an informed decision about purchasing. A handy contents list is also provided, so you can see exactly what will be included in the box, and just what you are getting for your money. The contents list is as follows:
  • 'Dig In' Bowl
  • 128 pieces (32 each of Red, Blue, Green and Yellow)
  • 12 Double-Sided Cards
  • 15 Second Timer
  • Instructions

Setting up the game was really easy, and was simply a case of emptying the bags of the pieces into the large white plastic bowl. The cards were all placed together on a sheet of card and so it was just a case of popping them out along the perforated edges and in less than a minute we were ready to play.

We began by mixing the coloured pieces together in the bowl, and then shuffled the cards before  selecting one at random. There are two options with the cards, in that you can either play on the grey side where you just have to match the object, or on the coloured side where you need to select the correct colour as well as the right object. Each card features six objects.

When it is time for the first player to take their turn, they simply press the timer down which allows 15 seconds for you to rummage through all the items to try and find your pieces. This sounds really simple, and in theory it is, but as you are aware that your time is running out, it becomes a frantic scramble to try and locate your pieces just in time. 

On your first go in the game you can use both your hands as each player takes a turn, and then once everyone has had an individual go, it then becomes a free for all, where you can all 'Dig In' to find your matching objects, however you can only use one hand this time. The first player to collect all six matching objects wins the round, and the first to win three rounds is the overall winner.

We loved the fact that the game was so easy to understand and play, as it meant less time reading through instructions and more time to 'Dig In!'. Despite the concept being so easy, I quickly got frustrated at not being able to find my pieces or complete my card as fast as the kids could, much to their delight.

Both my daughter and I are extremely competitive and it became a fun battle filled with laughter as I became determined to find my missing objects. I found that some objects were easier to identify in a rush than others, and the ones with less shape to them such as the banana were much more harder and several times I would completely overlook an object whilst the kids shouted and screamed that I had just touched what I was looking for.

As I mentioned earlier it is recommended for ages 8+ but Riley who is 4 really wanted to join in and so I had no problem with him playing whilst supervising. As it turned out, he actually won the first two rounds and seemed to find his objects far more easily than the rest of us. It was nice to have a game that the whole family could enjoy together.

Overall we found that the game was much more fun than we had initially expected it to be, and I particularly liked how easy and simple it is to set up ready for play. This makes it an ideal game to get out when the kids friends come round, or if we have a spare half an hour in the evening to have some family time together. Everything fits back in the box really easily as well, so it is easy to store and keep all the pieces together which is always a bonus.

The RRP of this game is £19.99 and as it is a game that is really simple to set up and play, you should get plenty of use out of it for your money. The plastic objects are all well made and not flimsy and so I think that the price represents a good quality product.

If you would like to have a go at playing Dig In! with your family, then I have the chance for one lucky reader to win their own copy of the game by entering my giveaway using the gleam form below.

Win Dig In! by Drumond Park

Terms and Conditions: Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over. Any bulk/third party entries will be disqualified. The winner shall be drawn at random from all eligible entries on or shortly after the closing date of 30th April 2017. The winner shall be notified by email and will have 14 days to confirm that they wish to accept the prize. Should the winner fail to respond, then a new winner shall be selected at random from the remaining eligible entries. The winner's details shall be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfillment, which shall be sent directly from the promoter. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. There is 1 (one) prize of the Drumond Park game 'Dig In!' with an RRP of £19.99. In the event of any prize becoming unavailable then the promoter reserves the right to replace with a different product of equal value.

Disclaimer: I was provided with this product on a complimentary basis, for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review of the game. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.

Friday 14 April 2017

A Splashing Time at Alpamare Waterpark!

Following our week in Somerset, we ventured to the North Yorkshire coast for a couple of days of camping. This is an area we haven't visited before, and so we were keen to find some fun things to do in the area.

Whilst doing some research online, I came across the Alpamare Water Park located in Scarborough, and the website pictures looked extremely impressive. The attraction is less than a year old, and I knew that it was somewhere we definitely had to visit.

We chose a cloudy overcast day to visit and I had hidden the fact that we were going to a water park from the kids, and instead simply told them that we were going swimming. Some of the slides looked similar to what we had experienced in Florida last year, and so I knew that the kids would absolutely love it!

As we pulled into the large car park which can accommodate up to 300 vehicles, the slides were immediately noticeable, and Emma and Ben's faces lit up with excitement. They couldn't believe their eyes as they stared at the huge colourful slide tower in front of them, and quickly ran towards the entrance.

First impressions of the outside of the water park were that the car park was very clean and spacious, and the building was very bright and eye catching. We couldn't wait to enter and see what was inside.

As we entered the main reception area, we received a friendly greeting, and the receptionist explained about the electronic wristbands that we would be required to wear during our visit. These wristbands record the time of arrival and departure, provide access to the lockers, and also allow you to charge food and drink to an account that you settle when you leave. We loved this modern idea and the cashless system seemed a great convenience to have.

As we entered the changing rooms, I was pleased to see how clean the whole area was, the cubicles, toilets and showers were all spotless, which is very surprising given the amount of people who must use the facility. Cleanliness and maintenance is very clearly important to Alpamare Water Park and their excellent standards were easy to see.

The lockers were a very nice size, and we ended up using three between the five of us. It made a nice change to not have to search for some pound coins to use them, and the kids enjoyed being able to use their wristbands to open and lock them.

Once we were changed, we made our way to the pool area. I was very surprised on entering just how spacious it felt, and despite being busy, it didn't feel crowded at all. There were sun loungers situated around the outside of the pools, and we saw the nicely presented restaurant to the left of us. Emma and Ben immediately made their way towards the slides with their dad, whilst Riley and I began to enjoy the Splash and Play area. It wasn't long before we were soaked, as somehow I had failed to spot the giant tipping bucket filling up over our heads, and so as we made our way over to the steps, the bucket tipped all over us, resulting in hysterical laughing from Riley as he looked at my shocked and wet face!

I glanced over to the slides area, where I saw Mr F, Emma and Ben all carrying a very large rubber ring that could seat four people, and realised that they had chosen to ride on 'Snow Storm'. The other rides were called 'Black Run', 'Olympic Run' and 'Cresta Run'. Each slide had their own age and height limits so it is an idea to check this before visiting to make sure that your children are old enough and tall enough to ride, to help avoid any disappointment. Luckily Emma and Ben were able to ride on them all, and they had an absolutely fantastic time. Emma said it felt like we were abroad in a posh resort, and although it is true we have visited many waterparks overseas before, this was definitely the most modern and clean.

The Splash and Play area where Riley and I stayed was great fun, and there were lots of water play activities for Riley to enjoy. There were steering wheels on the steps and platform leading up to the small toddler slides that could control the water fountains and there were handles and wheels on a large structure of tubes, funnels and paddles. These could also be controlled by the children and Riley really liked being able to squirt water at me.

About half an hour into our visit, both Emma and Ben came over to say that the wave pool was about to start and so we headed over to the main pool area to wait for the waves. Emma and Ben enjoyed jumping and swimming amongst the high ones, and Riley and I sat on the edge of the water so that we only had the little waves to deal with and Riley could jump over them and splash. When the wave pool had finished we enjoyed a little swim, until Mr F came over and suggested that we went in the outdoor pool. I immediately said no as surely it would be freezing outside, but Mr F told me to trust him, and we made our way down several steps and through a partition into the outdoor pool.

We were all extremely happy to find that this was a really warm pool which is heated at 35 degrees celsius. It also had a beautiful back drop looking out towards the coast, and it was like being in a giant hot tub. We managed about twenty minutes out here, before the kids decided that they wanted to venture back on to the slides. I could have happily stayed there for hours though! In addition to this, there was a further outdoor pool, called the infinity pool which again had sun loungers placed around the outside, and I can imagine this being absolutely lovely in the summer months. I later found out that this pool also contains healing iodine water.

When we returned back inside, Emma and Ben went to the slides again, and Riley decided that he was going to brave the smaller slides in the Splash and Play area. He had been unsure of this to begin with, but after watching several other children go down safely he nervously took his turn. He let out a high pitched scream as he went down the slide and splashed into the water, quickly followed by the words "Again, again".

In total we spent just under three hours in Alpamare, and the time literally flew. If we lived in the Yorkshire area, it would certainly be somewhere that we would visit regularly, and I think it is an ideal place to visit with the kids after school. Just before we left I took a quick look at the restaurant area which serves a range of both fresh and healthy choices including salads, pasta and pizzas. Hot and cold drinks are also available to purchase. The benefit of the cashless wrist band system also means that there is no need to return back to your lockers or get notes wet in the process which is a fabulous idea.

In the reception area there was also a shop which sold a wide range of swimming related items, so if you have come on holiday without your swimming costume, or you have accidentally left your childs armbands at home, then don't worry as these can be purchased here.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time, and the next time we are visiting the Yorkshire area, we will most definitely be visiting Alpamare again. In terms of cleanliness and modern facilities, this water park has set its standards extremely high, and the pools and slides were absolutely excellent. We would definitely recommend to other families looking for a fun day out.

Important information

You can visit the Alpamare Scarborough website here: Alpamare

Opening times: Alpamare Scarborough is open 365 days a year between 10am til 10pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am til 9pm on a Sunday.

It is located at North Bay, 28 Burniston Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO12 6PH.

Entry prices are as follows:

Daytime entry 10am til 5:30pm
Adult (16+) - £19
Children (6-15) - £15
Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) - £60
Under 6's are free!

Evening entry 5:30pm til 10pm Monday to Saturday & 5:30pm til 9pm on Sunday
Adult (16+) - £16
Children (6-15) - £12
Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) - £50
Under 6's are free!

Social Media Channels:
Facebook - Alpamare UK
Instagram - Alpamare UK
Twitter - @AlpamareUK
YouTube - Alpamare UK YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of providing an honest review of the attraction. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Entry prices and opening times are correct at time of writing, however I would always recommend checking directly with the attraction for the most up to date information.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

A Fascinating Experience at Wookey Hole Caves

Wookey Hole is a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time. We had made plans to visit last summer whilst camping around the UK, but as a result of bad weather, our holiday ended sooner than expected, and we sadly missed the chance to go. Therefore, as soon as I found out that we would be visiting Somerset this April, I made it a priority that we would have to visit the Wookey Hole Caves and find out more about the legend of the Wookey Witch.

Our journey from Burnham-on-Sea to Wookey Hole took around 40 minutes, and saw us venture along many winding roads and lanes. It was really well signposted and so we found the attraction with ease, and with little help from the sat nav. The first thing that caught our attention when we arrived was the huge hotel located at the top of the car park. The hotel looked lovely, and there seemed to be ample parking for both hotel guests, and attraction visitors.

We made our way over to the ticket kiosks, where we were greeted by the Wookey Witch whilst waiting in line. She wasn't at all scary, and engaged in conversation with the children, asking where they were from, and whether they knew anything about the caves already. When it came to our turn at the kiosk, we received a friendly greeting, and we were provided with a map and a sheet of paper for their Easter Egg Hunt.

The Easter Egg Hunt, featured a number of clues, which would tell you where to find a rabbit, who would be holding a letter. You then had to write this letter down on the sheet of paper, and continue to follow the clues, until you had completed the answer in full. This looked really good fun, and I searched my bag for some pens, so make sure you have a couple spare if visiting over Easter.

The clues began at the start of the cave tour, and so we made our way up the hillside path, towards the entry to the cave tour. Here we were met by a lovely lady with a great sense of humour trying to sell glow sticks. My children didn't want one of these, but we had a nice chat and laugh with the lady and it helped to pass the time whilst waiting for our tour to start. The tours run every ten minutes and so we didn't have to wait too long for our guide despite it being busy.

Unfortunately I didn't catch our tour guides name, but he was excellent and had my children captivated from the very beginning. I sometimes worry that my children will get bored on structured tours where they have to listen to someone talking, but even Riley was interested in the stories he had to tell. The guide spoke loud and clearly to make sure that everyone could hear, and also answered questions that were asked. He also clearly fore warned us of any low areas or steep steps so make sure that we knew to be careful in certain parts.

The caves were wet and slightly slippy in areas, and at several points the height of the areas you needed to walk through dipped to no higher than 4ft. We loved this though as we were in an actual cave and felt like explorers wandering through from chamber to chamber.

As we made our way into chamber two, there was a large area of water which was beautifully lit by purple lighting. The guide told us more about the Wookey Witch and the legend that surrounds the caves, and also pointed out several notable formations in the rocks. We found this really informative and fascinating.

In chamber three, we learnt more about the diving that has taken place within the caves. I found this really interesting as well as intriguing. It must be so scary diving through the dark areas, unsure of what you might find.

Part way into our tour, we came across an area which is used to store cheddar cheese. The caves maintain a constant cool 11 degrees celsius temperature all year round, and so cheddar is matured within the caves and can also be bought from the shop near the exit.

The chambers that followed were recent additions to the caves that had been opened up for guests to walk through. The rock formations in some parts were amazing, and as we visited the newer part of the tunnels, we were provided with hard hats for our safety.

The tour was fantastic, and well worth the visit. It was something I had always wanted to do, and was really pleased to have had the opportunity to experience the Wookey Hole Caves. The tour guide was really good, and made a few jokes around the tour which gave us a giggle. As you make your way down the steps, you find yourself back outside and at the end of the tour. In total it lasted approximately 45 minutes.

I had read numerous reviews on Wookey Hole Caves prior to our visit, and had seen a few people mention the attractions that follow the caves being 'mismatched'. Whilst I agree that these aren't really in keeping with the caves and don't follow a particular theme, they are enjoyable nonetheless, and as the main purpose of our visit was to experience the caves, everything else that was included within the entry price was a bonus. We also thought that these additional activities that Wookey Hole Caves provide, also make the entry price really good value for money. They make the attraction that would only be a couple of hours at the most, into something that you can visit all day.

On leaving the caves you make your way down a walkway where you then arrive in the Prehistoric Dinosaur Valley where there are lots of models of dinosaurs, as well as a giant statue of King Kong. As we continued along the path, we came to the 4D cinema and saw that there was a show starting soon, so we joined the queue and waited approximately ten minutes for the doors to open.

We have visited numerous 4D cinemas in the past, but we were really impressed by this one at Wookey Hole. The start of the attraction saw you waiting in a holding area, where the witches bat had tried to do a spell which had gone wrong, and as a result the room was upside down. The witch then appeared on a television screen and some dialogue between the witch and the bat continued for a short while. The secret passageway to the cinema then opened where we took our seats.

The seats were really comfortable, and the short film that was shown was really good. Riley absolutely loved it and it captured his attention the whole way through. I loved the fact that he laughed throughout the whole film, and made various woooaaahhhh noises as it appeared that we were riding on a rollercoaster. The effects were fantastic too, and even made me jump in some parts. When the film had finished, Riley had a huge smile on his face, and said 'Mum, I really loved that' which was a great response. Ben and Emma thought it was great too, and had it not began to get busier, I think we would have definitely watched it again.

Following the 4D cinema, we visited the caving museum, where we saw lots of the equipment that had been used over the years. We also watched an interesting video, following someones caving journey through the Wookey Hole Caves. We liked that this was connected to what we had just learnt during the cave tour, and it helped to expand on what we had learnt from the tour guide earlier.

After this we had a short stop in the large indoor play area. There was plenty of seating, and a nice soft play area for children, so we enjoyed a twenty minute rest here whilst the children burnt off some energy. We enjoyed the opportunity for a sit down, before continuing our visit with a trip to the Penny Arcade. We really enjoyed this, and it cost 50p for five old coins that could be used in a wide range of old arcade machines. These varied from slot machines to pin ball games, and even a football table. It was nice to see how the old machines compared to modern day versions, and Riley really enjoyed riding on the mini carousel that was in this part of the attraction too.

After a quick go through the mirror maze, we walked back through the Penny Arcade and exited via the shop. We had began to get a little hungry by this point and so we made our way down to Captain Jacks restaurant to have some lunch.

There was a huge amount of seating in the restaurant, so plenty of space for everyone, and there was a nice selection of both hot and cold food available. The food was around the average price for an attraction restaurant with a adult main of sausage, chips and beans costing £5.45, and sandwiches costing around £3.50 for a tuna mayo filling. The service was quick, and the food was hot so it was an ideal place to stop for lunch, knowing that we could return to some of the attractions within the building again after a bite to eat.

On our way to the restaurant, we had noticed a sign for a circus theatre show, unfortunately we had just missed one of the shows prior to eating, and so we didn't get the opportunity to watch this, however I spoke to another family who said that this was really good, and worth a watch. As the kids wanted to enjoy a game of mini golf though, we opted to do this instead of returning for a later show.

The pirate adventure golf was busy but good, and we didn't mind waiting whilst other families completed the stages they were on. Everyone seemed more than happy to be patient for one another, whilst letting children try their hardest to get the ball in the hole. It was great fun, and a nice end to our day out.

Overall we had a great day out at Wookey Hole Caves and there was plenty for my family to see and do. The caves themselves were really interesting, and I was fascinated by the rock formations as the tour guide led us through the chambers. The 4D cinema, penny arcade, and indoor play area were all added bonuses to our day out and were thoroughly enjoyed by the kids. I liked the fact that there was plenty more to do after the caves, which on there own would be a very short day out and so these added attractions offered good value for money on the entry price.

If you would like further information on Wookey Hole Caves, then you can visit their website here:
Wookey Hole Caves

Entry prices to the attraction are as follows:

Adult Online: £17.10
Adult Gate price: £19.00

Child Online (3-14 years): £13.50
Child Gate price: £15.00

Seniors Online: £15.30
Seniors Gate Price: £17.00

Concessionary rates are also available. For full details or to book online please visit: Prices & Opening Times

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review on the attraction. All words and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Entry prices, opening times and attraction information correct at time of writing, but I would always recommend checking the company website for the most up to date information.

Monday 10 April 2017

An Eggs-ellent Easter at Drayton Manor - Review

The last time I visited Drayton Manor was around ten years ago, and so when we had the opportunity to return recently, I was very excited to see all the changes that had taken place in that time. I could remember certain aspects of our last visit, and how much I loved their 'Shockwave' stand up rollercoaster, but having visited as a couple with my husband previously, I knew that this trip would be so much more fun and exciting as a family.

Saturday 8th April, marked the start of the Eggs-ellent Easter event which is running until the 23rd April. During this time there is plenty to see and do including, Easter Trails, Live Shows, Animal Feeds, Thrill Rides and of course Thomas Land.  You can print off the Easter Trail prior to your visit, or obtain a copy of guest services on arrival if you don't have access to a printer, and find the answers to the questions whilst making your way around the park. On completion you can hand your sheet into guest services who will reward you with a delicious Easter treat (subject to availability). Very Egg-citing!

We found Drayton Manor easy enough to find, although our sat nav tried to send us down several small lanes. Luckily it was well signposted as we got nearer, so we ignored the sat nav once we had left the motorway and decided that good old common sense would get us there easily enough and it certainly did.  The main entrance was clearly visible from the main road, and we began to make our way down the long drive way to the parking area.

There was a large queue of vehicles to get in, and so we were concerned that the park was going to be really busy. We needn't have been worried though, as after the initial car parking queue and ticket queue on arrival, the longest we waited all day was 25 minutes and that was for a ride in Thomas Land. The rest of the time we waited less than 10 minutes and on some occasions walked straight on. The park never felt too crowded at any point either, despite being busy which was fantastic.

We had made a plan beforehand as to which rides we were going to visit first, however this plan went straight out the window once we entered the park and the kids were quickly pointing in all directions as to where they wanted to go. Riley absolutely loves carousels, and so as there was no queue we jumped straight on the carousel in the centre of the park. We enjoyed this ride as a family, with Emma and Ben choosing horses, and Riley opting for a carriage.

Once we had left the carousel, Emma began to jump up and down and point at the large tower located towards the rear of the park. She was feeling extremely brave, and quickly insisted that she must go on the ride called 'Apocalypse', and that I must join her!

We made our way to Apocalypse, and Riley, Ben and Mr F went on the Flying Dutchman ride together whilst waiting for us. As we entered the main ride area, we had the choice of opting for the standing up ride queue, or the seated queue. We both decided that standing up would be far too scary, and so opted for the seated position instead, and were very happy to find a very short line of approximately ten people. This meant that it wasn't long at all before it was our turn. Whilst the tower looks high from the ground, it seems even higher as you are slowly making your way to the top. As we paused for a moment, I wondered to myself why I had agreed to come on with Emma, but I didn't get too long to think, as we were promptly released and the seats plummeted back down at speed towards the ground. I will admit that I screamed the entire way down!

As Emma and Ben had now each been on a ride of their choice, we excitedly took Riley over to Thomas Land. His little face beamed with delight as he began to spot familiar faces from the show and ran round excitedly trying to take everything in. Once he had calmed down and taken a good look around, he decided he wanted to ride on 'Winston's Whistle-Stop Tours' which was an aerial ride that took you along a track all above Thomas Land and gave you a birds eye view of all the rides. We all really enjoyed this, and when the ride came to a stop, Riley had already chosen his next adventure - Bertie Bus!

Bertie Bus had no queue at all, and so we walked straight on. The bus had bench style seating inside, and there is a maximum of one adult allowed per row. The bus then lifts up and moves in a circular motion whilst all the children excitedly cheer as it makes each rotation and it gently gets your tummy (a bit like going over a small hill in a car). This quickly became Riley's favourite ride, and each time we rode on it he got a little bit braver, and by the fourth go, he had his arms raised in the air like a true daredevil! I have to mention the member of staff on this ride who I thought was brilliant. Unfortunately I didn't catch his name, but he was very welcoming and friendly and it was obvious that children's safety was really important to him.

We were very impressed with Thomas Land, the rides were all like miniature versions of bigger rides but accompanied by a Thomas theme and the area was very clean and tidy. There was a wide range of choice for children, and I think if travelling with young kids, you could quite easily spend all day in this area alone. The rides all looked well maintained, and I liked that fact that there were replica engine models located around the rides, to provide you with some photo opportunities.

After Bertie Bus, we climbed onto Lady's Carousel. Again there was no queue, so Riley picked a carriage and I climbed in with him. Ben also decided to join us on this ride, as he enjoys spending time with his little brother. It never bothers him about going on smaller rides, as he just likes to see Riley having fun and spending time with him, which is really lovely.

After visiting the Sodor Classic Cars ride, and Flynn's Fire Rescue, we headed back into the main park area, to find a family ride to enjoy together and so left it down to Emma and Ben to choose.

They both decided on Splash Canyon which is a river rapids ride, and each boat can hold up to 6 people so this made it ideal for us. Foolishly I made a comment in the queue, that people didn't look too wet as they came off the ride, but I mustn't have looked carefully enough as when it came to our turn we got soaked, much to the children's delight!

Splash Canyon was really good, as it started quite gently, and gradually picked up in pace. We did get stuck on one part near the main dip to the faster rapids and ended up bobbing around between the barrels for a short while, but soon enough another boat came along and bumped us back onto course. The kids found this hilarious, and we were soon back on our way getting splashed from all angles. We left the ride soaking wet, but with it being really nice and sunny, we soon dried off in the sunshine, and within minutes Emma and Ben had already began queueing for their next ride which was Air Race.

Air Race is a selection of aeroplanes arranged in a circular formation. On first glance it appears similar to a children's ride, that you would sit in and it goes round in a circle. I then looked on the map and noticed that this was labelled as a thrill ride which confused me. This confusion was soon cleared up however when the ride started and the planes quickly began to move upside down! Whilst moving around in a circle the planes would also spin upside down, slowly at first, suspending riders upside down in the air, before gradually gaining speed and making the rotations much quicker. I was shocked that Ben wanted to ride on this as he doesn't like scary rides unlike Emma, and had certainly never been upside down on one before. I was half expecting him to leave the queue half way through, but much to my surprise he soon boarded his plane and both Emma and Ben screamed with delight as their plane began to rotate. At one point I noticed that Ben had his eyes firmly shut, and I was really worried that he would come off the ride upset. Instead he came off smiling and feeling very proud of himself for tackling his fears and trying a thrill ride. I was very proud of him too, but was also secretly glad when he said he didn't want to go on it again.

After the excitement of the rides so far, we decided to slow things down for a bit, and visit the Zoo where we could grab a drink and have a nice walk around whilst seeing the animals. The first animals we saw were the meerkats, and then opposite this was the reptile house, which was Ben's favourite area. We saw some absolutely massive snakes, as well as some lizards, iguanas and frogs.

After our relaxing walk around the zoo, we headed back to Thomas Land where Riley enjoyed more of the rides, and an obligatory trip to the gift shop, which was stocked to the roof with all things Thomas related.

Riley and I went on Bertie Bus (yes again!) whilst Emma and Ben went over to the Troublesome Trucks Runaway Rollercoaster with their dad. I liked that some of the rides were also suitable for older children, so that there was something for everyone to enjoy.

In terms of dining, there was an ample selection of places to eat, whether it be for small snacks, sweet treats, or a tasty hot meal. There were small snack kiosks in all areas of the park we visited selling drinks, donuts and ice creams, as well as take away options and sit down restaurants including Burger Kitchen, Pizza and Pasta, and Chicken Diner.

We found the facilities to be clean, and there were plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities available throughout the park, so you were never too far away, no matter where you were within the attraction.

Scattered amongst the rides, were numerous 'fairground style' games, where you could win prizes. I was pleased to see many people walking around the park throughout the day carrying jumbo sized teddies, which gave me reassurance that these games can actually be won.

One thing I really liked about Drayton Manor, was how family orientated it was. There really is something for everyone there, and certainly plenty to keep my family and I entertained. Unfortunately we found that we were unable to visit everything in just one day, and so when we return in the future, we will definitely look to purchase a two day ticket and either stay over at their on-site hotel or pitch our tent on their Camping and Caravanning Club Campsite to make a weekend of it.

Overall, we had an absolutely brilliant time, and will definitely be returning again in the summer.

Drayton Manor offers a discounted rate for tickets booked online, and these can be purchased up until midnight the day before you plan to visit. Ticket prices are as follows:

                            Online (Prebooked)      On the day rate

Aged 12-59                     £25                              £39

Aged 4-11                       £20                              £29

Aged 60+                        £20                              £29

Aged 2-3                         £7                                £7

Under 2's                         Free                            Free

Disabled/Carer                £20                              £20

Expectant Mother           £20                              £20

4 for £80                         £80                              N/A

Adult & Toddler             £20                              £20

After School                   £10                              £10

For more information on the rides, attractions, and full details on entry prices and opening times, then you can visit the Drayton Manor website here: Drayton Manor

You can also find out more by following Drayton Manor on social media and their pages can be found as follows:

Twitter: Drayton Manor Twitter
Facebook: Drayton Manor Facebook Page
Instagram: Drayton Manor Instagram
YouTube: Drayton Manor YouTube Channel

Disclaimer: We received complimentary family admission for the purpose of reviewing Drayton Manor. All opinions and photographs are my own. Prices, opening times, and ride availability was correct at time of writing. I would always suggest visiting the Drayton Manor website prior to visiting in order to obtain the most up to date information.