Ah, the inset day. That most hallowed of days when you can visit what is usually an incredibly busy attraction on a, relatively, quiet day. I pore over the school calendar every year looking for them and the most favourite of ours is the one on a Friday at the beginning of July when, hopefully, you have a chance of some decent weather too!
So last week, the family and I (kids 8, 6 and nearly 2) decided to give Blackpool Pleasure Beach a whirl, having not been there since I was a nipper myself. The rollercoasters rise quite majestically out of the pavement when you pass it on the seafront and once inside, it packs a surprising amount in for quite a small area, with rides looping around and under each other. My 8 year old rollercoaster-mad son was agog with excitement!
We used our Kids Pass membership to get discounted tickets – 1 child was free for every adult (and we had 3 adults as my sis in law came along too). So for the 6 of us it was £97 which is pretty good going for a theme park. You can get cheaper tickets if you buy online for a particular day and there are also Family ticket packages available. It’s worth noting that if you have a toddler, even though they can technically get in for free under 2, it’s worth buying a wristband for them as otherwise they can’t actually go on any rides. Which would be a shame as there are plenty on offer for the little ones!
We split into 2 groups – the adrenaline junkies headed for the scary rides and myself and the smaller ones headed for the tamer ones! Nickelodeon Land was great for my toddler as she could go on pretty much everything and it was nice and colourful and themed with characters from the shows (Sponge Bob, Dora etc). There were also regular character appearances from the likes of Paw Patrol and TMNT. My crazy 8 year old went on the Pepsi Max Big One twice (I could barely watch!), arms in the air screaming with pure delighted terror! He also really enjoyed the Big Dipper, Avalanche and Infusion.
There are quite a few gentler rides suitable for all the family to enjoy together. We particularly enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit ride and the River Caves were magical (which the attendant told me date from 1929!) Some of the rides (The Mouse, Grand National) are wooden and really quite old and rickety so you do get thrown around a fair bit but that’s part of the charm!
We had read on the website before going that picnics weren’t allowed. However, once inside we spotted tons of people picnicking so we went back to the car, put ours in a rucksack and brought it in. Security didn’t seem to mind and it is reassuringly tight at the moment, with walk through scanners and bag checks etc. If you do need to buy food inside, there is the usual choice of fast food outlets which appeared to be reasonably priced.
We filled the whole day very happily, and had to be booted out at 5pm when it shut! We didn’t queue for any longer than 15 minutes for a ride and most only a couple of minutes. I imagine it is very different on a weekend or in the holidays though. We didn’t quite manage to cover all the rides but certainly got our money’s worth.
As the weather forecast was good for the next day, we had decided to stay over and explore a bit more. Last minute, we had booked a room at the Premier Inn Blackpool East (we love a Premier Inn – I will be so sad when my youngest is out of a travel cot and we have to buy 2 rooms!) which was really convenient and very comfortable.
The next day, we decided we’d try the beach at Lytham St Anne’s. The two places really are world’s apart, even though only a couple of miles apart, with Lytham having a much more genteel feel than its rowdier neighbour!
The St. Anne’s end of town is the closest to Blackpool and had the traditional seaside feel we were after. It has a lovely traditional wooden pier, with just the right amount of tacky amusements on it to keep the kids (and adults!) happy. Who isn’t partial to a 2p machine?!
The beach stretches on for miles and appeared to be very clean. The sea can be quite a way out at low tide and the sand does get quite squelchy but we had great fun digging and splashing. We parked next to a lovely Beach Cafe amongst the sand dunes which appeared to be really popular and between there and the pier is a lovely walk along the Promenade dotted with plenty of things to do. There is a miniature train that runs around a small pitch and putt course, some mini amusements, a family pub, a paddling pool and a good playground. There are also some really nice, newly renovated beach huts to hire. We stopped and looked at the RNLI station which had a lovely shop in the bottom and viewing platform/Visitor’s Centre above which was great and really interesting for kids and adults – all free! We rounded off the day with fish and chips and of course, the obligatory ice cream on the seafront!
So all in all, a fab couple of days on Lancashire’s Fylde coast. We will definitely return to Lytham St Anne’s for another beach day out and no doubt, my 8 year old will be nagging us to return to the Pleasure Beach! We’ll have to save Blackpool Tower for another day……….
NB: This is a guest post that has been submitted by Kristianne who has 3 children aged 8, 6 and 2.