Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Family Sledging Experience at Snozone Milton Keynes

After our exciting time at iFLY Indoor Skydiving at Xscape Milton Keynes, we were very happy to be returning the following day to experience another attraction situated in the same great building. This time we were heading to Snozone to enjoy a family sledging session and it was something we were all really looking forward to!

Earlier this year Mr F, Emma, Ben and my stepson Liam all travelled out to the World Ski Championships in St Moritz, where they had their first experience of skiing and snowboarding. For Emma and Ben it was the first time that they had ever actually had the chance to go sledging and play in real snow. Whilst there they also had the opportunity to have some sledging fun on the Swiss Airlines course and so they couldn't wait to visit Snozone to do it again.

My youngest son Riley has never experienced snow at all and the last time we had a slight covering of snow was the day after he was born back in January 2013. It was therefore really exciting to see what he thought of the snow and whether he would enjoy it.

Snozone is a family friendly attraction and it currently has two venues in the UK with one being based in Castleford, West Yorkshire and the other in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. We visited the Milton Keynes Snozone which provides real snow slopes for skiing and snowboarding as well as offering snow experiences such as tubing, sledging and family snow play sessions. The main slope is 170 metres in length and is covered by more the 1500 tonnes of real snow, making it the ideal place to learn, develop and have some fun!

We made the booking for our sledging session over the phone and soon after I received both a text message and email confirming our booking. There was a lot of additional information attached to the booking which I took the time to read through the following day. It is very important to read the complete booking confirmation as this tells you all about the arrival time, cancellation policy, slope rules, clothing and equipment hire, medical conditions, the supervision of children and the consumption of food and beverages to name but a few. Our email stated to arrive approximately one hour before our sledging time to ensure that we were all booked in, kitted out and ready to start at 11am promptly.

Snozone is well signposted from the main roads and very easy to find. There is plenty of pay and display parking available and the price for parking varies dependent on your length of stay. However, we found the costs to be very reasonable and from memory it cost us around £3 to park for the duration of our activity. Our children already had clothing suitable for the slopes, so they got ready in the car park before entering, simply putting their ski gear over the top of their normal clothes, however there were large changing room facilities inside.

My husband was also well prepared, which left only me to get sorted with some hire clothing. I had read online that clothing hire was £9.99 however, I was pleased to find that this is for skiing and snowboarding. For a summer sledging session this is only £3.50 which I thought was very reasonable. For hygiene reasons you cannot hire gloves or socks so these are a must to bring with you or alternatively you can buy them on the day from Snozone for £19.95. This could obviously prove very costly if you need them for your whole family, so I would definitely recommend bringing your own with you. You also need to make sure you have suitable footwear for sledging so my children wore snow boots and wellies which were both absolutely fine on the snow and gave good grip.

We arrived one hour before our sledging session and a very friendly gentleman checked us in on reception. We were provided with our tickets which we were told to hand in once we met our instructor at 11am. I also requested to hire some clothing and was provided with a further ticket that I could hand in to the clothing desk to exchange for some salopettes (I already had a jacket). The check in process was very quick and easy and once this had been completed we had 40 minutes to spare so had a quick look around the surrounding shops and restaurants. About 15 minutes before our session was due to start I went to get changed and we placed our valuables in one of the lockers which cost £1 and is refundable. We then made our way to the equipment area and found some helmets for each of us. The helmets varied in size so the kids had to try a couple on to make sure they had a helmet with the best fit for them, but there were plenty available so more than enough for all the guests.

Once 11am arrived we were met by Andy who took all of our tickets and led us through to the slope. The whole area was much larger than I had expected and I was surprised by just how great it was. It was a chilly -5 degrees celsius once inside, however because we were constantly moving I never actually felt cold at any point. I watched a few people fly down the slopes on their skis and was very impressed with the whole set up.

We were then led to an area which had been sectioned off on part of the slope which is where the sledging could safely take place. This was away from the skiers and snowboarders and meant that we wouldn't get in anyone elses way and vice versa. The sledging slope was plenty high enough for us and I was a bit worried that Riley would find it too high initially, but he was absolutely fine and we quickly grabbed our sledges and made our way up to the top of the sledging slope.

Riley was so excited to be playing in the snow and wasted no time getting stuck in and having a good play in between sledges. He enjoyed climbing and rolling around in it as well as making the obligatory snow angel! Each time we climbed to the top and then sled down to the bottom he would have a little play in the snow and it was lovely to see him so excited and happy.

As there were a few other people in our group, I didn't let him sledge down the full slope on his own, as you needed to be able to stop and steer away from other people, if need be. I therefore sled down next to him each time and held on to both mine and his sled in order to keep us together. This was really easy to do and was definitely a lot safer for him. I wasn't too keen on going overly fast so the slightly slower speed of going down together was much better for me too.

Emma, Ben and Mr F on the other hand, took great delight in speeding down the slope and seeing who could get to the bottom first. The sledges look really small but are actually suprisingly comfy and easy to carry to the top. The walking to the top can get a bit exhausting after a while but there is plenty of space at the bottom of the slope to have a rest if you need to, before climbing the hill again which certainly gets your muscles working and calories burning.

Ben was definitely the fastest down the slopes and beat each one of us to the bottom when we raced. He had loved his time in St Moritz back in February so he had been really looking forward to being able to play in the snow again. He couldn't help but admire some of the skiers, as they went flying past and I think he would have definitely liked to have given skiing another try, as this was something he picked up really quickly in Switzerland. We are definitely going to have a look into getting him some lessons arranged, or perhaps, a short course which Snozone offer at both of their sites. I was also pleased to find out from Andy that they offer both private, group and family tuition as well as day courses and summer camps for children.

Ben and Mr F quickly got the hang of steering the sledges whilst going down the slope and also managed to do a few little twists and turns. Ben loved racing his dad to the bottom which often resulted in them both lying laughing on the floor, it was so much fun!

About three quarters of the way into our session Emma and quite a few others decided to take a little break at the bottom as walking to the top began to get pretty tiring. Riley however was still shouting "Again Again!" each time we got to the bottom so I had to try and find the energy to keep getting back to the top although I think my walk up got much slower each time.

We had initially thought that an hour wasn't very long for sledging, but we were very wrong and it was actually just the right length of time for us all, as we each began to get a little tired. We could see the large cafe calling us through the giant viewing windows and so as soon as the session was over we returned our helmets and then made our way through to the cafe to have a well deserved rest and a drink.

The cafe offered a nice selection of food and drinks as well as a range of ice creams. Emma and Ben both chose a slushy and Riley chose an ice cream whilst both Mr F and I enjoyed a nice hot drink. Once Riley had finished his ice cream he was also able to enjoy the under 5's soft play area. This isn't huge but it is great for little ones to have somewhere to go whilst you have a rest and finish your meal and beverages.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time at Snozone Milton Keynes and will definitely be returning again in the future for a family ski or snowboard lesson. The staff were friendly and approachable and we found all aspects of the attraction to be very clean and tidy including the cafe and soft play area. The sledging session was great and very enjoyable as well as being a great opportunity to introduce Riley to the fun you can have in snow. We will definitely be back!

Important Information:

Milton Keynes address - Snozone Xscape, 602 Marlborough Gate, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3XS

Castleford address - Snozone Xscape Castleford, Colorado Way, Glasshoughton, Castleford, West Yorkshire, WF10 4TA.

Telephone number - 0333 0030 520

Website - The Snozone website provides the most up to date information on pricing, lessons, courses, bookings and events. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website before visiting. Their website can be found here:

Alternatively, you can follow Snozone on social media. Their social media channels are:

Twitter - @snozone_uk
Facebook - SnozoneUK
Instagram - @Snozone
YouTube - SnozoneVideos

Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary family sledging session for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. I paid for hire clothing at my own expense. All photographs and opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

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