I’ve just been looking through my saved drafts of blog posts, and came across this one that I wrote four years ago! I think it’s worth publishing because the tips will still be useful, but the prices will be out of date now. My friend Traci and I took our village Youth Club kids to Butlins in Minehead, Somerset for the day…
Well, first I have to say I was pretty impressed with the place. There was a friendly atmosphere and it was spotlessly clean. It was also well laid out and difficult to get lost in, which is useful when you’ve got 10 kids to keep an eye on….
I do have a few complaints though. Mainly the price. It is just under £50 for a family of 4, so we got in as 3 families (3 adults with 3 kids each – and they very kindly let the spare kid in for free – excellent!). To be honest, that isn’t a bad price for a day’s entertainment, but I’m not really sure it was a day’s entertainment. The older girls soon got bored of the small fairground and were wandering around killing time till lunch. Then they went in the pool, which was brilliant, though not large enough to cater for the number of visitors and most of their time was spent queuing for the slides. A couple of them went to see Jedward who happened to playing there that day. (A tip for anyone going to Butlins to see a band: unless you’re major fans and don’t want to risk not getting in; don’t bother queuing. For some mad reason we saw people queuing to see Jedward more than an hour before they were actually due on stage. The 2 girls went in 10 minutes late and got right to the front with no difficulty. Also, I think the website is misleading – tickets to see the band were completely free – or at least, included in the day ticket. )
You’re given a booklet with the timetable of events as you go in, and it will quickly become obvious that not many things are included as part of your entry fee. The fairground is small and they still take the opportunity to take money off you for the Hoopla stalls and suchlike. The younger kids and the boys enjoyed the scary upside-down spinning ride though and were there for a while.
There is an area for smaller children to go on gentler rides, which looked really good, but it is quite separate from the fairground, and could be awkward for families with children different ages. Various sports activities are included, such as football and family rounders, and at one point in the day, arts and crafts. Karaoke and an animal show were free, but not on on the Sunday we were there. (Another tip: If you’re going on one day of the weekend, the better activities seemed to take place on Saturday.)
There were all sorts of additional fun things to do, with an average cost of £5-7 each. Go-karting, an adventure playground, a climbing wall, paintballing, lazer quest type game, fencing and archery. Not to mention all the arcade games conveniently placed in the centre of the complex. I felt like I was being completely fleeced everywhere I looked. All the actual fun things cost a lot of money and I would not like to be a parent with a child asking to go on them all every day of a week-long holiday! Having said that, if you were staying all week; with careful planning you could utilize the free activities much better than on a day trip.
We had to leave before the evening shows, which was also a shame as I’ve heard they are very good.
We took the kids to the Pizza Hut all you can eat buffet. Unless you know you’ll be able to
eat enough to make it worthwhile, I wouldn’t bother with that either. The cheese and vegetable pasta I had was not very nice, and surprisingly they didn’t each much pizza. There were more restaurants to eat than you could imagine, all charging double they would on the high street.
Despite my moans, it was a successful and lovely day. My favourite part was the walk on the beach though! The kids had a great time, and compared with the cost of other full-day activities, this was actually not bad value. I’d recommend it better for ages 12 and under.