It was Boo’s 4th birthday last week, so we decided to treat her to a night away at Alton Towers’ Splash Landings hotel.
After a leisurely morning spent opening and playing with presents, we loaded up the car and made the journey northwards. We arrived at the hotel at around 2pm, and our room was ready for us so we went up to explore straight-away. Boo was VERY excited that there were bunk beds, and immediately declared that she would be sleeping on the top bunk- well, she was 4 so quite a big girl now 😉 She was then thrilled to discover Nemo soap! We could see the water park (through the lashings on rain against our windowpanes) from our room, so we got ourselves sorted and made our way down to the pool.
This is where things went slightly awry! Firstly, I’d like to point out that the changing rooms and pool areas were spotlessly clean, the staff very helpful, friendly and attentive (there were lifeguards patrolling all areas constantly), and it was lovely and warm everywhere. No complaints, in fact. Apart from our children not really liking it there…! As soon as we entered the pool area, the sounds of all of the waterfalls and slides assailed us, and it was all too much for Little Man – queue screaming and inconsolable crying. Though he did of course calm down after lots of cuddling, he clung to me for dear life for the rest of the afternoon, and no, he didn’t make it into the water, other than a tentative toe-dip. With hindsight – a lovely thing – he has only ever been swimming once before, so this is a lot to take in, and there were plenty of children there of his age and younger that were quite happily playing there. He was also tired, as he proved by falling to sleep on me, so I sat on a bench for some time…! Boo was definitely more excitable about it all, until she went down a big slide with daddy and ended up with her head going under the water – a big no-no for her since she had swimming lessons last year and her teacher dunked her under without warning. It put her off a little, though she did go on a couple of other slides, played in the pools and enjoyed shooting and spraying the water from the towers.
My children and our poor-planning aside, it was a great environment for families, some had taken their pushchairs in there for ease, it was really warm so no worries about little ones and there was loads to do. I’d recommend it and we will go back there, though will make sure Little Man’s better rested and we’ll take him to our local pool a few more times before another visit.
So, dried and dressed, we made our way to the games room to entertain ourselves before dinner, and then we went off to Flambos Exotic restaurant for our dinner. Boo was really looking forward to this – she’s a big fan of restaurants (I’m not sure whether that reflects badly on my cooking?!). It’s a buffet service, and a little steep at £19.95 per adult, I think, especially as we had to pay for our drinks (just soft drinks) on top of this. Boo was £6.95 and Little Man £1.95. We were there at 5.30 when it opened, so the food was all fresh and hot, and the service friendly. There was a good range of starters and mains, then a chocolate fountain, ice cream machine and lovely platter of desserts for afters. Suffice it to say we were all full up when we left!
After we’d all had a good night’s sleep (yes, all in the same room and the kids slept well!), we filled up on a delicious hot breakfast (think juice, pancakes, croissants, sausages, hash browns, fruit..you’re getting it :)) and we made our way to the monorail right outside the hotel and got into the park. It was a drizzly day, so it wasn’t too busy. Hotel guests can also get on the rides from 9am, before the park opens at 10am. This is great, though I’d point out that not all of the rides open early, so plan wisely.
We’ve been there a few times, though all before having children. I’d forgotten how big it is and spread out. There was a fair bit of walking involved (and I found myself enjoying the leafy stroll much more than my teen self would have done!), though we loved crossing the park in the cable cars, and they were really easy to get the pushchair in and out of. We spent a little time in Cloud Cuckoo Land..
We then looked around Sharkbait Reef, before moving onto the Storyland area, with the Squirrel Nutty Ride and the farmyard with a ferret roaming about with a keeper, playground, tractor ride, and boat ride with animals sound effects buttons you could press – that was a much-enjoyed feature…
Boo’s favourite ride of the day was the Runaway Mine Train, which we could have guessed as the girl loves a roller-coaster! And while the husband and Boo were on that, Little Man and I explored the gift shop..
All in all, it was a fun break. We’ve loved visiting Peppa Pig World, Thomasland and Legoland, and I’d have to say that for little ones, these do offer more (though we really liked the baby changing room feature of being able to play your chosen tune while cleaning up in there!). But we knew that, and this was about trying out somewhere new, along with the water park and hotel experience. And as regular readers will know, we never pay for our theme park trips – Tesco Clubcard every time! I don’t know whether Alton Towers are even looking to get more of the young family market, as they do so well with the thrill rides, seemingly coming up with bigger and better ones every year. The whole Storyland and Farmyard area does look a little tired (though no complaints from the kids!) and there is plenty of space there to inject some new life into it, so who knows? But a big thumbs-up on Splash Landings park and hotel – great places for young families.
Have you visited recently? What were your thoughts? And I’d be interested to know which theme park is your favourite for little ones?
Exciting addition since writing this Just found out that CBeebies land is being added to Alton Towers next year. Great idea and brings something for little ones to the park – hooray!!