Thursday, 14 November 2019

Day of the Dead Festival at Southport Pleasureland - A Review

Earlier this month, Southport Pleasureland hosted a fantastic evening of entertainment and fireworks for their Day of the Dead Festival, which was attended by a huge crowd of visitors and brought an end to the 2019 season. My family and I were invited along to enjoy the celebrations and find out more about what was on offer for guests to experience at the event.

We arrived just before 5pm and made our way into the attraction. This was our first time at Southport Pleasureland, so my children were very excited to be attending and couldn't wait to see what rides and acts were available. As we entered, we were greeted by two stilt walkers in Day of the Dead themed costumes and face paints, as they spun circles of fire in front of the arriving visitors. Riley was mesmerised watching them and was looking forward to seeing the rest of the entertainment.


I had saved the list of timings on my phone, but realised once we were there, that we didn't know the locations of each act. Fortunately we seemed to be in the right place at the right time when it came to viewing the action and my children loved watching the performances. The Bring the Fire Project Skeletons got the evening off to a great start with their movements and flames, whilst the Creo Dance Company offered some creative dance displays.


We particularly enjoyed the LED jugglers and spinners who wowed the audience with their wonderful light displays. Our favourite however, was the Katumba Drummers which really helped to create a carnival style atmosphere. My eldest son is currently learning to play the drums in school, so he absolutely loved this part of the evening.


In between the acts we enjoyed ourselves on all of the rides. Each of them were being offered at a discounted price of £1.50 per ride which seemed very reasonable. To go on the rides you needed to purchase a Fun Card, which could then be pre-loaded with credit using one of the machines around the park. We had been provided with £10 credit on each on ours and this lasted us the whole night. I felt that the reduced ride prices offered families great value for money and that the Fun Card system would also allow families to budget accordingly.


There was a great choice of rides to choose from and we found that the queue times for each of them were reasonable and not too long. The Dodgems were very popular, but my eldest son managed to get a couple of goes and he had great fun driving the vehicle around and trying to avoid others. Riley loved the Balloon Ride, the Dumbo's and the Convoy and used the majority of his £10 on these rides. A particular mention must go to the member of staff running the Convoy ride, who was fantastic with the children and made it a great experience for them all.


All three of my children loved the Dock Funhouse which is one of the largest I have ever seen. They all said it was fantastic and lots of fun, with plenty to see and do inside. They all went on this at the start of the evening and then each chose to visit it again at the end of the night too.


For an additional charge, guests could also participate in one of the many fairground games to win prizes, which were located at various points around the attraction. I thought that the one indoors looked great and the prizes seemed to be of a good quality too.


There were plenty of food options available from various vendors and there was an ample selection of choices on offer. Items ranged from sweet treats such as waffles and pancakes to the more traditional favourites of fish and chips. A vintage bus which doubled up as a bar was also in attendance, so adults could enjoy their favourite tipple, whilst taking in the entertainment. Both hot and cold drinks were also available throughout the park at varying prices.


The evening ended with a fabulous fireworks finale which lit up the night sky beautifully. It was a wonderful display which was the perfect way to end the event.

Overall we had a wonderful night at Southport Pleasureland and it will definitely be on our list of places to return to next year. We felt that the Day of the Dead Festival offered something different to the usual Halloween and Bonfire Night events that were being held during the same weekend and it is great that there is an attraction offering some variety.

We loved the family friendly atmosphere and found all the staff we came across to be extremely welcoming. The rides were all enjoyable and there was a great selection that were suitable for various ages from toddlers to adults, so there was no worry about anyone missing out on all the fun. Ultimately we had a great evening and we look forward to visiting again in the future.


Attraction Details

Southport Pleasureland has now closed for the 2019 season, however they are due to reopen in March 2020 and you can find out more information on the attraction here:

Address - Southport Pleasureland, Marine Drive, Southport, PR8 1RX
Website: www.southportpleasureland.com/
Twitter: @SNPleasureland
Facebook: facebook.com/SouthportPL
Instagram: @snpleasureland
Parking - There are 3 car parks located on the Esplanade and on Marine Drive
Public Transport - Southport Pleasureland is easily accesible by public transport and is a short walk from the park and ride station, the town centre and Southport Railway station.


*Disclaimer - We were invited to this event as guests of Southport Pleasureland, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own.


Friday, 8 November 2019

A Family Day Out at Fantasy Island - A Review

During the October half term, we travelled to the East Coast and spent a week in the county of Lincolnshire. We were really pleased to find so much to do in the area and enjoyed some fantastic days out as a family including a visit to Fantasy Island in Ingoldmells,Skegness.

The weekend prior had brought torrential rain, so we were a little worried that our day could end up rather wet, but luckily the weather was on our side and we were able to enjoy everything that Fantasy Island had to offer, both indoors and outdoors!

We were staying approximately 45 minutes away at Tattershall Lakes Country Park and it was a really simple drive to the attraction. On our arrival we found the car park easily and there were plenty of spaces for visitors. It cost £6 to park all day which we thought was a really reasonable price.

My children's eyes lit up with excitement as they saw the huge rollercoasters reaching towards the sky, whilst Riley was really keen to find out what was inside the large pyramid building. We therefore made our way over to the main entrance at the pyramid to obtain our wristbands and begin our day.


Fantasy Island has over 30 rides to enjoy as well as being home to Ingoldmells Market, which is Europe's largest seven day market. There is also a huge arcade which uses a state of the art i-card that brings a contactless system to the attraction.

Entry to Fantasy Island is free of charge, so you then have the choice of paying on a ride by ride basis, or you can purchase a Ride All Day wristband which offers great value for money. We loved the fact that it was free entry as this meant that my parents could also join us for the day, as although they are unable to go on the rides, they could enjoy watching their grandchildren have fun without having to pay an excessive amount for entry.

The wristbands vary in price depending on the time of the season, but if you purchase them in advance online, you can also get a 10% discount. Online bookings can only be made up until midnight on the night before the visit, so make sure you book in plenty of time if you want to take advantage of the online discount. Opening times vary throughout the year, so to check the most up to date information on wristbands and opening, you can visit their website here.


Once we all had our wristbands ready, it was simply a case of deciding where to go first. We had noticed on arrival that the queues for the larger rides were quite small, so thought it would make sense to take advantage of this, so we made our way towards The Milennium. This is a huge purple and green rollercoaster which stands at 150ft in height and travels at up to 55.9 mph. There are also two loops which my husband and daughter said were fantastic!

Our next ride was The Odyssey which travels at 62mph and has plenty of inversions as well as a vertical loop. It is certainly not for the faint hearted, but my husband and daughter thought it was brilliant and the boys and I watched safely from the ground as they zoomed past at speed.

With the two main thrill rides out of the way, we enjoyed the rest of them at a more leisurely pace and my children would choose between them which ride to go on next. My youngest son enjoys the more simpler rides, but his elder brother always goes on them with him which I think is lovely. Riley thought that the Bouncing Bugs were hilarious and he also really enjoyed the Bizzy Dizzy Beez.


As the day got progressively colder we made our way into the pyramid and enjoyed some of the rides that were on offer inside. The range of attractions was fantastic and there was so much to see and do. Our wristbands included a game of crazy golf which was absolutely brilliant, with a dinosaur theme. We are all really competitive so this was great to have a fun family competition. The 18 holes are spread across two floors and the whole area seemed really clean and well maintained. I was convinced that I had won, especially as I had got two holes in one, so admittedly I was really disappointed at the end to find that my husband had beaten me by two points - he always wins!


My favourite family ride was the Seaquarium which we thought was a fantastic facility to have inside the pyramid building. It was really good fun with lots to see and Riley enjoyed pointing out various fish and figures amongst the displays. Every ride we went on seemed immaculately maintained which not only made them look great in appearance, but also offered reassurance that the rides were really safe too.

In addition to the rides, there were also some shows on throughout the day which provided entertainment. As we were visiting over the Halloween period, the shows had a spooky theme and there were leaflets that provided the show times. This made it easy to keep track of where you needed to be and when.


The arcade was very popular with my children and they really liked the I-Card system. We have used something similar to this only once before and that was in Florida, so it was great to see this modern technology making its way over to the UK. One thing that stood out to me about the arcade was just how clean all the areas were. Also if we ever needed any assistance obtaining our 2p machine prizes, we could always find a member of staff with ease, who would happily help. Like most arcades you can win tickets whilst playing on the machines, which can then be exchanged for prizes. At Fantasy Island there is no need to carry a huge mound of tickets around with you, as just like the cash, your tickets are automatically added to your I-Card which makes things so much easier. My children enjoyed exchanging their tickets for prizes and there was a good selection on offer in the prize shop. They were all happy with their choices and came away with some small toys and sweets.


There were plenty of dining options to choose from on site and we found the prices of the food to be very reasonable. We had taken a picnic for lunch, so utilised one of the many picnic benches located around the site to eat our sandwiches. Later in the day though, we all opted for some burgers and chips which were delicious and the children enjoyed some slush drinks which were only £1 each. Throughout our visit we also purchased both hot and cold drinks and we were very pleased with the service received at each vendor that we used.

We ended our day with a visit to the high ropes course. My only minor complaint here was the length of time that it took for a turn, as there is no time limit in place. It therefore works on a one off, one on basis which meant that my children waited 50 minutes before two people left the course. It would perhaps be better to impose 20 minute sessions to ensure that guests don't have to wait too long to have a go. Once they were up on the course though they really enjoyed it and it was fun watching them complete the challenges on the climb. It is a great facility to have and all in the comfort of the warmth inside, so no need to worry about weather spoiling the enjoyment.


Overall we each agreed that Fantasy Island is a great day out for the whole family and felt that the prices were really reasonable and fair. My daughter said that it was one of her favourite attractions that we have visited as she liked the variation of rides and facilities that were available. There was a great choice of rides to suit all ages and I felt that the wristbands offered excellent value for money. As well as the rides we were able to enjoy crazy golf, bowling, arcade games, plenty of food options and even a large market, which meant that we were able to have a non-stop day packed full of fun. We would absolutely recommend Fantasy Island to others and we will definitely be returning next year!


Fantasy Island

Address - Sea Lane, Ingoldmells, Skegness, PE25 1RH
Website - www.fantasyislandresort.co.uk
Facebook - facebook.com/fantasyislanduk
Twitter - @fantasyislanduk
Instagram - fantasyislanduk


*Disclaimer - We were provided with 4 x complimentary wristbands for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. I also purchased an additional wristband, £30 arcade credit and food at my own expense. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Horrible Histories Live on Stage - The Terrible Tudors at Storyhouse, Chester - A Review

My two eldest children are now both in high school, where they have quickly found that subjects are far more focused than they were in primary. They find History absolutely fascinating, but with so much to remember it can be hard to retain some of the factual information at times, especially when delivered in a traditional classroom setting. One thing that has always helped them in relation to their History topics, is the Horrible Histories series of books, which deliver history in not just an educational way, but also in a manner that is fun and enjoyable too. We were therefore delighted to attend Storyhouse in Chester last night to see Horrible Histories Live on Stage - The Terrible Tudors!

There was grisly gags and bloodthirsty battles galore, throughout this action packed show that was cleverly delivered by a talented trio of actors from the Birmingham Stage Company. There was never a dull moment as we were taken on a journey through the Terrible Tudor times and learnt about the murderous monarchs, manky medicines and perilous punishments that were typical of this historical era.

Image credit: Mark Douet

The show began with Richard III and a brief comical portrayal of the Battle of Bosworth, where we were then introduced to Henry VII also known as Henry Tudor. As the show progressed we learnt more about his successors and of course the fiercesome Henry VIII and his six wives. My children particularly enjoyed this part of the show, especially the very easy song which had all of the audience singing along and joining in with some simple choreographed moves.

We were initially surprised at the minimal use of props, as I had envisaged there being quite an elaborate stage setting due to the stories that would be told. However, this quite simplistic appearance actually worked fantastically well and ensured that the focus was on the actors and the exciting way that they were delivering the show. This compacted telling of British history was extremely enjoyable and we remained fascinated through the show, right up until the demise of Queen Elizabeth I.

In between learning about the Tudor monarchs and their families, we were also provided with some very disgusting facts about how life would have been. My son chuckled at the idea of Edward VI's whipping boy, whilst my daughter and I laughed through the comical rendition of Greensleeves.

The crime and punishment scene left us all shocked at just how horrific the sentences were, whilst the manky medicines left us equally disgusted at their choice of treatments and potions. We were amazed from start to finish and remained engaged and excited as our historical knowledge increased by the minute.

A particular highlight for us all though, was the Elizabeth I and Will.I.Am Shakespeare scene which made us want to get on stage and dance along with them. It was fantastic and certainly very memorable. We also enjoyed the added novelty of Bogglevision 3D effects during the second act, which provided yet another exciting element to the show.

Overall we had a wonderful time at Horrible Histories Live on Stage - The Terrible Tudors and we were very impressed by the cast and their performances throughout the show. It was educational, entertaining and most of all fun, with plenty of audience participation too. Packed full of facts, jokes and a colourful script, we all came away from the show having learnt something new, as well as a song that will be stuck in our head for weeks to come!

Horrible Histories Live on Stage is currently performing BOTH the Terrible Tudors and the Awful Egyptians at Storyhouse this week at varying times, so make sure you don't miss out and check out the listing details below for the remaining dates.

Listing Details

Horrible Histories 
Performances until Friday 8th November
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR
Tickets: £13.50 children under 14 / £18.50 Adults
Each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee

Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors
Thursday 7th November 2019 at 6pm
Friday 8th November 2019 at 10:30am

Horrible Histories Awful Egyptians
Thursday 7th November 2019 at 10:30am
Friday 8th November 2019 at 6pm

Tickets can be booked online at www.storyhouse.com, or by calling 01244 409113. Alternatively you can visit the Ticket Kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR.

*Disclaimer - We were provided with press tickets for the purpose of reviewing the show. All opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.