* Prices may differ from that shown
I recently took my little boys to the Sandcastle waterpark in Blackpool and we had a great time. It has been refurbished in 2012 and has new rides. The park is straight forward to find, we simply followed the brown tourist attraction signs once we got near to Blackpool. Its easy to spot as it has waterslides coming out of the building. There is plenty of parking close to the attraction but this has to be paid for, although I think you can park for free on the streets further back but finding a space might be difficult. It best to check their own website for opening times and these do vary depending on the season, it opened at 09.30 the day we visited. Now the admission price is slightly complicated, for admission to just the waterpark it is £13.50 for an adult if you buy tickets on the day. Plus a further £6 if you wish to buy a hyperzone wristband which allows you to ride four of the waterparks largest rides. Three of these hyperzone rides are for over 8's and confident swimmers, where as one is suitable for children aged 6-7years and they can pay an extra £2 to ride it. You may or may not wish to buy the extra hyperzone wristband. It best to check the website to find out which tickets your party will require. Family tickets can be cheaper and online booking gets you a 10% discount. Our family of 3 ticket was excellent value at £30.60 booked online. This attraction does get very busy, we went on a bank holiday, we arrived at the opening time and had pre booked tickets and still waited 10 minutes to get in. Once we got inside we were able to get a family changing area and a locker. There is a 50p deposit for the lockers which are quite small and you might need to couple to get all the families stuff in. Once change we headed up the ramp from the changing rooms into the waterpark. It is warm inside and very there are lots of tables and seating. You can not take your own food inside but you can buy food like jacket potatoes, sandwiches, burger and chips. These weren't over priced I think a kids burger and chips meal with a drink was £3 and £4.50 for a adult meal. As we are early we didn't have to queue for slides for starters but it did quickly become busy and we were waiting longer and longer for rides as the day went on. My kids aged 4 and 6 loved it here. We didn't use the Hyperzone at all as my two were too young for that so I can't comment on it, but we did enjoy the rest the park. First we entered the shimmiering shallows designed for younger guests, its just a shallow water area where the smaller slides finish, ideal for younger kids. Both the HMS thunder splash and fort riptide are locate here which both have mini slides for little children, non swimmers with armbands. My boys loved the Caribbean storm tree house this is play area suitable for non swimmers, water squirts out from the floor, kids can climb up stairs, shot water at each other, climb up rope ladders and tip buckets of water over unsuspecting passes by, lots of fun for kids. Next to this area was the treetop water slides, these are family friendly slides, they are colourful slides and three rides can race each other at once, they finish into very shallow water. Another big hit with my boys were the Thunderfalls waterslides, these are much larger waterslide, riders must be over 5 and able to swim to use the ride alone, younger non swimmers may ride with an adult. My 4 year old was happy to go down with me and my 6 year old loved going by himself. These are longer winding slides they end up in deeper water so you need to be able to swim to the side. We spent most of our time in the Ushi-cushi river creek, described as a lazy river where you can lay back and let the river do the work while you enjoy the meandering rolling river, but watch out for the surprises. Well personally I found it far from relaxing, it was quite fast moving and with one child who was a non swimmer and another still new to swimming I found it exhausting chasing after them in the fast following current. There around float rings that can be used on the ride, ut as it go busier they were harder to get hold of so we went in without. It is powerful and the strong current dragged us around the river, as it got busier and busier it was more difficult to keep up and hold of your child/children. Waterfall down into the river in places. It was lots of fun and by far our favourite attraction but not as lazy as you think and care needs to be taken. We also enjoyed the typhoon lagon which turns into a wave pool, it is announced before the waves commence so you can decide to either enter or leave the water. The waves are quite strong but lots of fun. The only ride we didn't use were the duelling dragon sides which are two fast slides for swimmers over 6 years old. We spent over 5 hours here and would love to return.
LOCATION The Sandcastle Waterpark South Beach Blackpool Lancashire FY4 1BB UK T: 01253 343 602 F: 01253 406 490 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.sandcastle-waterpark.co.uk ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING It is very difficult to find free parking in Blackpool. There is a large car park right next to the Sandcastle, South Beach car park, which is open 24/7. The charges there are £3.50 for 3 hours or £7.50 for 12 hours. Out of season (from mid-November to Good Friday, there is unlimited free parking on a numbers of small roads directly opposite the Sandcastle: Osborne Road, Withnell Road and Simpson street. During the season you can park on these roads for a maximum of two hours, however, they do tend to be busy and spaces get filled up quickly. There are good public transport links to the Sandcastle. The trams run right past it and there is a dedicated tram stop. The no. 1 bus runs along the Promenade and there is a stop close by. The nearest train station is Blackpool South, about 15 minutes' walk away. From the station, turn left onto Waterloo Road and keep going until you hit the promenade. Then turn left again and just keep going. You will see the Sandcastle on your right. It is a walk of about 15 minutes or so. OPENING TIMES AND PRICES Opening times vary greatly, depending on day and season. The earliest opening time is 9.30am in the season and during school holidays, and the latest closing time is 8pm on certain Fridays. It's best to check the website for the particular day you want to come. Some days out of season it's not open at all. The admission prices vary greatly and there are a number of different variables. There is a basic admission price plus an optional HyperZone wristband, which entitles you to also ride the Sidewinder and the MasterBlaster. Children must be eight years old cannot ride the Masterblaster, but they can ride the Sidewinder, so their HyperZone wristband price is cheaper. Single (12 yrs+): £12.00 plus £3.75 for the HyperZone wristband Junior (8-11 yrs): £10.00 plus £3.75 for the HyperZone wristband Junior (6-7 yrs): £10.00 plus £2.50 for the HyperZone wristband Junior (3-5 yrs): £10.00 - cannot buy a HyperZone wristband Infant (under 3 yrs): FREE Guests with disabilities/Carers: £7.50 plus £3.75 for the HyperZone wristband Senior (60+ yrs): £7.50 plus £3.75 for the HyperZone wristband There are also various family passes and group rates you can buy. These are detailed on their website. If you book online there is a 10% discount, but there is also a £1.50 charge. However, even with the charge it is still cheaper to book online if there is more than one person, and you get to jump the queues. A few years ago they brought out an annual pass which I bought for myself and my daughter, then 6. I can't remember how much it cost me then, but currently the annual pass is on sale for £100 for seniors/3-11 and disabled, and £120 for 12+. It includes access to the HyperZone also which at that time allowed younger children to go on the MasterBlaster. They had to change the rule as some smaller children were falling out! We went every Saturday morning for a couple of hours and really enjoyed our weekly swims. If we had paid the going rate, it would have cost us £1,534 - so we saved £1,314 - definitely worth considering if you're planning on going a lot. We worked out it only cost just over £4 a week for the two of us to go - far cheaper and much more fun than the local swimming pool and it really improved my daughter's confidence in the water. LOCALS Local residents get a discount of a massive 50% off the standard admission fee (excluding the HyperZone, which is still charged at full rate) on production of a proof of address such as a utility bill, showing an FY1 - FY8 postcode. THE SANDCASTLE EXPERIENCE You can really waste a good chunk of your day here. If you're planning on doing any serious swimming, it's not for you - go and do lengths at the local pool instead! But if you want to splash about and go on slides and have a blast, then it's great. The MasterBlaster really is worth going on, although it tends to be busy at peak times. Try and get there early if you can - when we went on Saturdays we were always one of the first there and the first to go on the MasterBlaster. It's described as "the world's longest indoor roller-coaster waterslide" and "the world's first uphill roller-coaster". You have to get an inflatable ring from at the bottom of the MasterBlaster, next to the wave pool, then carry it across the park and up several flights of steps to the top. These rings are large but they aren't heavy - my six year old could drag it easily. Then you put your ring at the top of the slide, settle yourself in and the assistant gives you a mighty push and you're off! You go down and round corners quite fast and then you hit the uphill bits. What they call "water injection technology" sends you up the hills but watch your bottom through the hole in the ring - sometimes it can scrape. The slide is 820ft long, and at the end, there is one final steep slide/drop, just to get the adrenaline pounding. Occasionally the "water injection technology" fails and the whole thing grinds to a halt, which is very funny! They have to send on e of the staff in to the slide and they walk through the now quiescent rollercoaster to where you are and you have to walk through and slide yourself down the final drop, which looks like fun, although it never happened to us. If that does happen to you, you do get another go! The Sidewinder is a huge white U-shaped structure dominating the middle of the waterpark. I have been on it twice and that was quite enough. Again, you get your ring from the bottom - they have double rings also so you can go on with a friend - and you take it to the top of the ride. You sit in your ring and they push you down the almost vertical sides of the U. You hit the bottom and slide up the other side part of the way, then gravity takes over and you slide back up the original side., Eventually your momentum runs out and you end up motionless in the middle, at which point you get off and go either, "I'm not doing that again - I think I left my stomach up there!" or "More, more, more!!". I was one of the former; the Sidewinder left me cold, but it is a very popular ride so there must be lots of people who enjoy that adrenaline rush. Even the video of the sidewinder on the sandcastle's website had my stomach churning! The rest of the waterpark has plenty to do for young and old. There are the twin yellow and blue slides, the Thunderfalls, which are always popular. Even toddlers can go on there, if they sit on an adult's lap and wear armbands. There is the pirate ship and fort, which have water shooters and baby slides - perfect for your little one. There is a large shallow area for your littly to splash and play in safety, which deepens into a larger lagoon area leading to the lazy river. At the far end of the park, there is a triple water slide, again suitable for smaller children on an adult's lap, although there is a fair splash at the end, so it might not be suitable for very young children. There are also two green enclosed slides, the duelling dragons, which are faster than they look. These have an age restriction of 6 and are only suitable for strong swimmers. The Caribbean Storm Treehouse is a watery adventure playground featuring as its top attraction, a giant coconut which slowly fills with water over about half an hour and then upends its contents all over the people below. Watch for kids squirting you as you climb the stairs! Finally there is the Typhoon lagoon. This is the best place for proper swimming - you can do quite a few decent lengths in here and the deep end is deep enough for anyone. But every hour on the hour, it transforms into a wave pool! Listen for the Hawaii-five-O theme tune and make your way across to ride the waves. There are two new rides coming soon, due to be open on an indefinite date! These are Aztec Falls, a bowl slide, and Montazooma, a mat slide. FOOD AND SEATING There are plenty of eating and seating areas in the Sandcastle if you don't want to be in the water all the time. There are also lockers so you can take your money with you, pop it in a locker while you have fun, then you can go and get it again when your tummy starts to rumble! Food varies from hot dogs and burgers, to salads and sandwiches. CHANGING The changing areas and large and well-equipped with both communal areas and private cubicles. There are male and female changing rooms, as well as family changing. A lift is provided from the reception area down to the changing rooms if you have a pushchair and there is a slope from the changing rooms up to the water area, so you can take your pushchair with you. There are LOADS of lockers, which require a 50p piece (refundable). There is a change machine in the locker area but it is temperamental. I sometimes had to ask the till staff for a 50p - but there were always happy to oblige. There are showers, toilets and free-to-use hairdryers in all changing rooms. There are also two sets toilets in the water ark area so you don't have to go back to the changing room to use the toilet. OTHER FACILITIES There is a swimwear shop in the Sandcastle which sells and range of swimwear, goggles and armbands and other swimming accessories. There is also a gift shop selling sweets and souvenirs. There is a small amusement arcade and a bar selling alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in the main reception. There is a sauna and steam room in the water park next to the Palm Trees snack shack. This is only for use by customers aged 18 or over. They also do birthday parties. My daughter had her ninth birthday party here and it was a great success! CONCLUSION Basically a fab day out - a tiny bit pricy but really good fun! (previously published on ciao.co.uk)
Blackpool's Sandcastle Waterpark is a monstrosity of a building located at the end of the Golden Mile, just across the road from the Pleasure Beach. Housed inside is the 'world's largest indoor waterpark' which consists of pools, lazy rivers, slides and thrill-rides galore. I remember going as a child and really enjoying it, so we 'borrowed' the nieces and nephews and took them for a day out during the last half term holidays. We had an absolutely fantastic day out. The other half was worried that we'd get there and only last a couple of hours before the kids got bored and wanted to go. As it was, after six hours, we still had to drag them out of the pool to go home! Having visited the website first, we found out all we needed to know and the predominant thing that came from it was how extortionate the prices were. Brace yourself for a shock! It costs £10.85 for adults (over 14s) and £8.85 for children and that is just for basic entry. If you want to go on the thrill rides (more about them later) you need to purchase a 'Hyperzone Wristband' at an extra £5 per person, with no concessions for children. If you are a local resident (with an FY postcode) you can actually take advantage of 50% the basic admission price. This isn't widely publicised and you need to ring the park for details of how to apply for a resident's card. There are also small discounts if you buy family savers, which are available for families of 3 (maximum of one adult) 4, 5 and 6 (all with a maximum of two adults). Now you've taken your jaw off the ground, let me tell you a little about the park. There are indeed plenty of attractions (18 in total) and it is guaranteed to keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. Firstly there is the 'Hyperzone' which basically consists of the Sandcastle two most popular rides; the Masterblaster and the Sidewinder. The Masterblaster is Europe's longest indoor waterslide and is around 250 metres long. It winds in and out of the park (even going outside over the promenade) before dumping you back in a pool of water. Interestingly it actually takes you uphill (another European first!). The equally ominously named Sidewinder looks a lot like a U-shaped skateboarding ramp. You are launched down a vertical drop on one side and basically zoom backwards and forwards until you come to a stop at the bottom. You can ride this one in tandem with someone else for double the fun! Both of these rides have age / height restrictions (over 8 years and 1.15m for the Masterblaster and over 6 years and 1.1m for the Sidewinder) and you can expect big queues for both. The rest of the attractions are included in the standard price. Amongst others there are: the Caribbean Storm Tree House, which is a play area that incorporates water pistols and so on; Fort Riptide, which has small slides for the really young visitors; Duelling Dragons which are two slides that entwine around each other and you can race each other down; Tree Tops Water Shoots which are four brightly coloured slides side by side, again great for racing; Typhoon Lagoon which is a pool with waves in to the sound of the Hawaii Five-0 theme; and Ushi Cushi River Creek where you can grab a board and let the current take you gently around the river with no effort at all! All of the attractions are well planned out, with a very Caribbean theme, enhanced by palm trees and the like. It is pleasant to be in and the attention to detail is very impressive. Importantly all of the rides are well maintained and there is plenty to suit every visitor, whatever the age or swimming ability. Something that I always find telling about a swimming pool, is the standard of the changing rooms and we weren't let down at all here. There were plenty of lockers (that have a small fee) and there were plenty of places, both private and public, to change in. The shower area was very clean and well maintained as well. In terms of eating, there are a number of places that you can visit (all of which you can be in your swimwear for, as long as you dry off a little first). These places are again themed and offer a selection of the standard fare - burgers, fish fingers, chips etc. We didn't actually eat in the cafes, so I can't comment on the quality of the food, however I can say that the prices seemed to be in keeping with the entry fees and the food was expensive. We actually opted for the cheaper option of taking a packed lunch, which is not in the slightest bit frowned upon, as can be the way in some of these places. In fact it is encouraged as there are plenty of seating areas around the complex. It's also very easy to keep food in your locker and return for it later in the day. Overall, prices aside, I would say that this is a fantastic day out. There is plenty to keep children of all ages entertained - like I said; our only problem was trying to get them out again at the end of the day! If it weren't for the prices I would give the Sandcastle five stars, but I can't overlook the fact that, even though you get a days entertainment, the entry fee is very high - so three stars it is!
Sandcastle Water Park bills itself as the UK's largest water park. It is on Blackpool's promenade right next to South Pier and those familiar with the climate in the North of England will be glad to know that the attraction is indoors. The kids were desperate to visit this park after we read about it online before visiting Blackpool so we headed there on a wet day. I was shocked at the admission charges, an adult pays £14.20 for admission to the pool and to ride all of the chutes with a child ticket costing £11.85. You are free to stay in the waterpark all day once you have paid but I would also have liked to have the option of paying less for a two hour visit. The waterpark has a tropical theme with fake palm trees and brightly coloured birds dotted around the place. The first impressions I had was that despite being the biggest park of its kind in the UK that it was not particularly huge. There are two main pools, one is shallow with loads of kids activities and the typhoon lagoon for stronger swimmers is deeper and has waves which are switched on every half an hour. Despite the relatively small size the park has 18 slides dotted around the sides of the pools, play areas for younger children, a waterfall, a rolling river and a wave pool offering fun for all the family. The most impressive of the slides is the Master Blaster, the worlds longest indoor rollercoaster which also holds the title of being the worlds first uphill rollercoaster. Riders are seated in small inflatables while the water injection technology propels riders along the 250m long slide which snakes outside the building. The slide is not particularly fast so is suitable for children from the age of 8 and is the most popular slide in the park and so the queues can be long and despite paying extra for a wrist band to use the rollercoaster then you may be limited to only one ride. There were queues of half an hour to use the rollercoaster the day we visited but the kids thought it was well worth the wait. The fastest of the chutes are the duelling dragons, a thrill ride where strong swimmers can race side by side to see who reaches the bottom first. On the sidewinder the riders are dropped down a steep slope on a rubber dinghy. The Thunderfalls and Treetops water chutes are suitable for families and kids from the age of 5. The Ushi Gushi Water Creek was a favourite with all of the family. You simply relax and let the flowing water carry you around a backdrop which looks like it is a tropical paradise. There are three areas which provide extra fun for the under 10 crowd; the Caribbean Storm Treehouse is an area with water jets and canons and a coconut up in the air which you can use to tip water over yourself. HMS Thundersplash is a wooden boat area by the poolside which has more water canons for the kids to shoot at one another. The third area is especially for the youngest children and is called the Shimmering Shallows and has special small and gentle slides and more water jets where pint sized non swimmers can safely have fun in shallow water. You have a choice of changing rooms with separate areas for males, females and families. They were spacious with ample cubicles so you could get changed in private and were impressively clean with dry floors and ample showers and toilets, make sure that you remember to take a 50p piece for the lockers! If you are not swimming you have to pay an extortionate £5 to sit by the side of the pool in the sweltering heat of the Palm Tree Snack Shack. Swimmers are encouraged to eat here during their visit by going into the changing room and getting some money so you will be surrounded by people in swimwear if you sit here. The food itself is unimaginative comprising of poor quality burgers, hot dogs and chips and the prices are really high for what you get. Away from the poolside Sandcastle have designed more ways to part you from your cash with a souvenir shop, the amusement arcades which you can never escape in Blackpool and an overpriced coffee shop in the entrance although thankfully the paninis and coffee are better quality than those offered by the poolside. The kids aged 12 loved Sandcastle Waterpark and would happily go back again. The adults were not quite so impressed, yes the pools were nice but it was not as spectacular as it seemed from the brochure and no doubt our opinion was coloured by the fact we had paid almost £50 for four of us to go for a dip. The kids were happy to run around the complex all day and loved the variety of the rides and attractions but the adults got a bit bored after a couple of hours. This is a place that kids from the very young to teenagers will enjoy and the adults will pay the inflated prices to keep their nippers happy.
***THE SANDCASTLE - GREAT FUN ON A RAINY DAY!*** ***The Sandcastle Water World Blackpool*** I have just returned from a mini holiday to Blackpool and one of the days was spent in The Sandcastle Water World. We had a great time and I thought I would give a few hints and tips as to what to expect. ***Admission*** You can either pay on the door, but you do get a 10% discount if you plan ahead and book more than 24 hours ahead. I checked the weather forecast and planned to go on of the days which looked rainy and generally dreary. Booking ahead is definitely to be recommended - we arrived around 11.30am and the queue was horrendous, but having online ticket confirmation meant we went straight to the front of the queue and went right in!! The website is easy to navigate and gives plenty of information as to what to expect and all the prices. There are generally two tiers of admissions. The first is basic and gains admission to the majority of the rides. If you go up one step to include the hyperzone, then you can go on the two major rides as many times as you wish. When you arrive they put wristbands on you which signal what you are entitled to. Tickets can either be bought individually or handily they save you a little bit of money for a family or 3, 4, 5 or 6. The only downside is that booking online means that you have to be specific with the day you wish to visit, so you would be unable to be flexible with you plans. Tickets can be bought up to 3 months in advance and they also do children's parties. The prices are as follows (the first column shows admission to only the waterpark, the second includes the hyperzone rides): Single (14 yrs and over) £9.76 £12.78 Junior (8-13 yrs) £7.96 £10.66 Junior (6-7 yrs) - NB The Hyperzone price is for admission and Sidewinder only as you need to be 8 and over to ride Masterblaster £7.96 star £9.76 Child (2-5 yrs) £6.16 star Under 2 years FREE Senior (60+ yrs) £5.26 £7.96 Guests with disabilities £5.26 £7.96 Family of 3 saver (max 2 adults) £23.85 £31.95 Family of 4 saver (max 2 adults) £30.60 £41.40 Family of 5 saver (max 2 adults) £37.80 £51.30 Family of 6 saver (max 2 adults) £45.00 £61.20 There are also discounts for groups of 10 people or more. It is open all year round, but for much reduced opening hours in the winter - again this is all detailed on the website. ***Location*** The Sandcastle is in a pretty good location, it is situated right opposite the Pleasure Beach, although as far as I could see, it did not have it's own car park. We parked behind the Pleasure Beach in a secure car park, which was manned until midnight and payed £7.00 for the whole of the time we were there. It is much more expensive if you park in the official Pleasure Beach Car Park. There is also a Pizza Hut just a little way down the street, opposite which is handy when you come out starving!!! ***Changing Rooms*** There are both male and female changing rooms and also a family changing room provided that they child is under 11. There were an adequate number of showers and toilets, though I felt they could have done with some more care and attention. There were also numerous lockers that you could use costing 50p which was refundable. The keys were designed to be worn around you wrist. Someone has already commented saying the showers were a little hot and I would agree with this. Having said that they were not unbearable and my son who is 9 years could cope with it fine. I did have a few problems with my locker though and they were on the point of breaking into it, but eventually managed to tweak it open. There was plenty of space and I though we came out at quite a busy time, as we stayed until nearly the end. I think that it is time for a bit of an update and a lick of paint though, because these things become dated very quickly. The waterpark is not directly outside the changing rooms, there is a small walk up a ramp, which doesn't sound like much, but when you are continually going back and forth to your locker for money etc, it feels like a bit of a distance. ***What's it like?*** ~Rides~ The temperature was something I was dreading, because I first visited two years ago in the October and it was FREEZING!!!! Maybe being July it was different this time, the temperature was fine - not boiling - but comfortable enough to spend all day in the water and to sit and eat food in your swimsuit without getting cold. I wouldn't call it tropical exactly, but ok for spending along time in the water. We pretty much went on all the rides and here I have an issue. Although my 9 year old son was old enough and tall enough, the hyperzone rides were just too much for him. In particular he hurt his back on the Master Blaster and they took him to first aid to apply a cold compress. He was literally flung out of the inner tube at the end of the ride with force and he wasn't the only one. I saw other children who hurt themselves at the end. My daughter too hurt herself and she is nearly 12. I think that rather than age or height you should perhaps bear weight in mind, because if you are like you could be pushed about as my son was. I will definitely wait until they are older before they attempt anything like this again. The Master Blaster does claim to be the longest indoor water roller coaster in the world and you do actually go outside of the building at one point (although you can't see through the tube - a shame really!) The Sidewinder is a similar story - if you don't hold your bottom off the ground you get friction burns!!!! Yet, it is hard to hold yourself up because you fear falling out. I think that perhaps we should stick to the milder rides in future. If you do wish to go on these rides, then the queues really do go down alot by 4.30 in the afternoon. So wait until then and you will still get to go on them loads, but won't waste lots of time queueing up. The Lazy River ride was a big hit though - my children loved it! This was a river what swirled around an island and the current took you along. There was also water canons and chutes taking aim at you as you swam through. We went round and round so many times we got dizzy!! It was nice and gentle but such good fun. There were also some floats around too, so that you could use these as well. There was also a wave pool that I think activated every 30 minutes or so to the sound of Hawaii Five O. You should stay in the shallow end if you are not a good swimmer as it does get a bit forceful in the deeper part. There is also a Caribbean Storm Treehouse - which is like a kind of big cooking pot on high, constantly filling with water. Every 15 minutes or so this empties out onto people standing underneath below. Again, beware this isn't a gentle drip drip, - it is FULL FORCE water gushing and would probably be a bit of a shock for a young child. Other favourite rides were blue and yellow slides which could be made fast and exiting if you were lying down or reasonably gentle if you sit up. You splash into a pool of water at the end. Again, the queues were non existent after around 4.30pm. Traditional slides were you can race each other were suitable for most ages. There were also some gentle slides and a pirate ship for younger children and toddlers. Manually operated water cannons offered some good fun for younger children keen to splash their parents or friends! I noted that some of the rides allowed adults to accompany their young toddlers so that they could enjoy the fun. It says on the website that there are 18 rides, I didn't count them all, but there was plenty to do. ~Staff~ I could not fault the staff, they were friendly and interacted well with the children. They seemed to be mostly students I think, but they were kind and when my son hurt himself they noticed and took us along to first aid. They were attentive without spoiling anyone's fun and at times they joined in with the children splashing them and generally making it more pleasant. Sometimes when you go to places like this the staff are miserable, but here no - they were a credit to the company and have either been well trained or have been well recruited. There were plenty of staff about, so if you had any queries, there was always someone there to help. The attendants also regularly changed their posts so that they remained fresh and vigilant. ~Food~ The food is generally of a fast food standard, with fries, burgers and hot dogs etc. The queues aren't too bad if you avoid peak times and the prices are a bit expensive, but so is most fast food. It was difficult to find somewhere to sit, as people reserve seats with towels and leave them there all day GRRRRR! This is really annoying when you just want somewhere to sit and eat your food. We eventually found a table high up, but beware there is a bit of a 'towels by the pool' mentality. They also sell tea, coffee, coke and slush puppy etc. Again the staff were really polite and friendly. ~Overall~ I felt this theme park offered good value for money, especially on a rainy day and especially if you can stay for a long time. There is a gift shop on the way out, but if you are quick enough, you can rush through there as my children were tired out by that time! My children and I enjoyed it but next time I think we will take up the lower priced tickets, as they enjoyed so much without the hyperzone. I think it is also a warmer and better trip going in the summer months. Yes, there are improvements that could be made, but I would recommend coming here for a day trip if you live close enough. If you have to come for a short break you are in danger of being sucked into the Pleasure Beach money drainer, which is a review for another day...
Not one for going to theme parks and other such attractions on bank holidays or other busy time I chose to take my three to the sandcastle on a Sunday in February so I can't comment what it would be like on a busy day but can definately recommend it in general. I booked in the morning before we left on the internet and recieved a 10% on-line discount and also this means you go in through a separate interest so if there had have been any queue's (which there wasn't) we wouldn't have had to wait. There are two lots of prices depending on how adventurous you are the lower price does not include the hyperzone (basically the bigger faster slides) and if you don't like these the smaller slides are great and the lazy river is great fun. For those who like the bigger ones I can highly recommend the side-winder and masterblaster which are probably better htan a lot of slides I have been on in waterparks abroad. We went with our 3 children ages 12, 10 and 2 and there was planty there for all of them to keep us occupied from 11am till gone 5pm (and my 2 year old still cried that she didn't want to leave). The internet states strictly no bringing your own food and drink so I didn't although when we there we saw plenty of people with picnics, it also states that this is for health and safety reasons although you are not restricted to eating their food in the eateries provided and can take it to any or the seating areas. They have family changing rooms and family showers which were great although some of them were only quite small we were lucky to get a large one as it was fairly quiet so I don't know whether these would be sufficient in busy times. There are lots of seating areas although not that many poolside so in busy times you could end up not as close as you like although to be honest we only sat down to eat. Inside the waterpark there is only a burger bar and a snack place as well as vending machines, the cafe is in the entrance area so you would have to dress to eat there. There is also a swimwear shop for anything you forget or if you discover when you arrive that a new swimming costume is see through and need to buy a new one, this was slightly expensive but better than the alternative. All in all my family and I had a fantastic day here and I would and have recommended it to others but would suggest you try and pick a quiet time to get your full value for money, we went on Sunday 15th February and didn't have to queue so could go on things as many times as we wanted and didn't have to worry about losing the kids in the crowds.
On your visit to Blackpool, at the end of the Golden Mile, opposite the Pleasure Beach and on the seafront you may notice a peculiar pyramid building. Half is given over to the Grosvenor Casino, and the other half is The Sandcastle Water World. Apparently the Sandcastle used to have parking next to it, it appears however that this has been appropriated by the Grosvenor Casino with warning signs of dire consequences if you do try to park there. There is plenty of public parking around though. I had actually heard about this after doing a bit of research about tourist attractions in Blackpool. It promised to be one of Europe's largest undercover water parks, sub-tropical conditions, loads of water rides and would be a wonderful 85 degrees. And that was what sold it for me, I'm currently suffering a bout of rheumatoid arthritis and was assured that nice warm water and swimming would be perfect to relieve the aches and pains. So I was absolutely determined to go, so we did absolutely go on the last day of our holiday. Walking in I was a little disappointed, there was a very nice, smart and clean café on the right, however on the other side was a pile of tables and chairs and obvious signs of building work. Although it wasn't too dangerous it did make the place look messy and slightly grubby. Unfortunately that look continued as we waited in the queue, past the obligatory fruit machines and shop. It looked old and dated, the décor was a faded grey and the cashiers windows looked like they hadn't had a clean in months. There are several prices available dependent on individuals or family tickets. All Day and after 1.30pm Single 16+ £9.00 £8.50 Single (6-15 Years) £7.50 £7.00 Single (2-5 Years) £6.00 £5.50 I NFANTS UNDER 2 FREE FREE SENIOR CITIZENS/DISABLED £6.75 £6.25 FAMILY of 3 SAVER TICKET Max 2 Adults £23.00* £21.00* *Additional Persons add £7.67 £7.00 FAMILY of 4 SAVER TICKET Max 2 Adults £29.50* £27.50* *Additional Persons add £7.38 £6.88 FAMILY of 5 SAVER TICKET Max 2 Adults £36.00* £34.00* *Additional Persons add £7.20 £6.80 FAMILY of 6 SAVER TICKET Max 2 Adults £42.50* £40.50* *Additional Persons add £7.08 £6.75 It is open everyday, but does seem to have a lot of different opening times dependent on the time of year, rather than list them all here I suggest you check out the website beforehand. The two prices listed above are prices if you arrive before 1.30pm and then after. My expectations of what the place was going to be like seemed to indicate that this was going to be good value for money. Just in case you've forgotten anything swimming related there is a shop there selling swimming costumes, goggles and all manner of flotation devices. Amazingly it was a lot cheaper than I anticipated. Goggles started as £2.99 and the swimming costumes were no more than Asda or Tesco's prices. I, was of course, completely organised and only need to buy everyone goggles. If you are not swimming then you have to walk through here to get to the poolside, no sneaking in though, theres a nice big security guard making sure you have your tickets before you get in! At first glance the changing rooms seemed quite clean, but there were nowhere near enough changing rooms, there were approximately 25, very small, and no family cubicles, so there were bare bottoms sticking out from the curtains! (Dont you just hate it when you are getting changed and your wet bum sticks to the curtain? There was quite a bit more changing areas outside the cubicle and as us ladies know we are usually quite happy to change in front of each other. At least we are when there aren't boys running about! I'm not talking little boys either, I'm talking up to 10yr olds wandering around the changing room. I understand Mum would be a little worried but I do think the mens changing room is more appropriate for that age group, but if Mothers are worried about it perhaps they could encourage their kids to have a little decorum and respect for others? Then off for a wee and a shower before diving in. At least I was going to go to the changing room toilets but soon changed my mind. They stank of urine and faeces, imagine a really old public toilet, which the tramps sleep in and tend to urinate in the corners instead of the loos. Well that was what they smelly like, and they expected us to use them in bare feet? No way! Apparently, they check them hourly, not a chance, toilets don't smell like that after an hour. The poolside toilets were a huge improvement, although not perfect. Still the showers should be more of a comfort, right? Wrong, they were red hot, hotter than would be recommended. I couldn't get under them and I'm just glad I didn't stick a small child under there. Well the most important thing had to be the pools. I walked in there and the place did look really big, the roof is all glass and give the illusion of a big space. There are 2 pools, both graduate from very shallow to deep. The slightly bigger pool had the 4 water rides attached to it. There was also a house type structure with spray guns and showers, intermittently it also poured huge amount of water onto a waiting crowd which admittedly was quite good fun! There were plenty of life guards about, who didnt seem to do much, but perhaps we were all just behaving ourselves, it would have been nice if they could tell the children who delighted in splashing the smaller ones and snatching the floats off of them to behave. Then came the biggest problem, 85 degrees, my backside! That water was cold! OK, not freezing but more of a slow progression in rather than a jump. Of course our body temperature does adapt, but eventually the cold water did my joints no good at all, I couldn't even swim because the resistance and the cold made it too painful for, so it had to be an early exit for myself. The owners obviously intend you to be there a while as a large space is given over to several food and drink outlets. You can grab yourself a burger, jacket potato, panninis and more. I was aiming towards a nice jacket or panini, but rather predictably was dragged off to the Bongo Burger joint. I expected it to be expensive but I wasn't too shocked. It wasn't great value, all burger meals were more expensive than say, McDonalds and were definitely smaller, for example the drinks were half the size. It also took rather longer than necessary to get our food, OK, it was freshly cooked but nearly 20 minutes to get a spoonful of chilli on our burgers, was quite unacceptable. They did taste good though! You have to note that your cant take your own food and drink in, but quite honestly I don't see how they can check up on this, and plenty of families did so. Apparently there used to be a miniature golf course upstairs, but this has been taken away and has been replaced with more seating. Still no smoking in the entire building though! It would be wrong to suggest I didn't enjoy myself, because initially I did. I loved seeing my son, who last year was scared to get water on his face jumping under and having fun. But it was far from what I expected, especially for £30. The whole place looked dated and run-down, it was colder than anticipated and there wasn't much room to actually swim. Not to mention the absolute pervert who thought it most amusing to entertain the contents of his swimming shorts with a section of small water jets in front of all the kids. You really do need to keep a close eye on little ones as well as there isn't a separate pool for babies and toddlers, both pools graduate to a very deep end. One pool has a strong wave machine in it as well, which you do get warned about with the honking of a horn. Neither is there anything to stop them just wandering completely out of the pool, the building and onto the road outside! In my honest opinion The Sandcastle is most suitable for those of the teenage variety! They have a DJ who plays all the chart hits, and a small are where they play games. For serious swimmers it's a no no as there is no real space to swim. Small children have to be watched like hawks and babies may quickly become cold. With a lick of paint and some decorating, improvements in the toilets and the turning up of the heating this could make The Sandcastle the 'North West Tourist Attraction of 2004 that it purports to be. P.S Theres no sand!!
THIS IS A SERIOUS WARNING TO ALL PARENTS OF TODDLERS VISITING BLACKPOOL SANDCASTLE FOR THE ILLUMINATIONS SEASON. In the Sandcastle at blackpool is a childrens play area by the cafe. Now though you only get 45 minutes for £1.50, that's not my gripe. There is one entrance/exit in the play area yet it is in my opinion unsupervised. You pay at the cafe and your child is given a couloured smock to put on. I think the Sandcastle's idea is that parents sit in the cafe and supervise their kids themselves for 45 + mins, going to the cafe to buy food, snacks, drinks etc. It would be easy to put an attendant on the entrance to ensure that kids didn't leave unless accompanied. 200 yards from this was the tram lines and main road. Goodness knows what would happen if a child left the play area while a parent's back was turned for a minute whilst buying a drink in the cafe, or spending a penny. I had to watch my 6 year old like a hawk, and kids were popping in and out for a second or two to go to parents in the cafe. The cafe attendant was too busy serving customers. I asked a member of security walking round whilst it was unsupervised and the reply was that the kids have smocks to wear so that staff or security cameras would spot then walking around unattended. This is not good enough, in fact it's simply dangerous. Anything can happen to our kids. God blessed mankind with our little treasures, and the Sandcastle should remember this.If the Chief executive's children were hurt or injured in any way he wouldn't be happy, yet it's ok for our kids to be put at risk. And can the sandcastle being packed with people give us any reason for their staff/camera operators would not simply assume that a child in a smock outside the play area was looking for their parents and ignore them. This is simply a tragedy waiting to happen. Am I right to be complaining, or should we all be staying watching our children whilst in the play area? Other play areas have an attendant at the entry so kids can't walk out on their own, or locked doors, but not the sandcastle. And does anyone know to whom I should be addressing my complaint to at blackpool council, and an apropriate e-mail adress. And have the Sandcastle been pulled up over this before. After all, any child's life is worth far more than a £17'400 a year minimum wage for 2 attendants on a rota. Unfotunately I cannot give this the No Star rating I think it deserves so 1 will have to do.
Over Easter weekend I did something I vowed I would never do: I went swimming at Blackpool Sandcastle. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the Sandcastle, per se, but there’s a lot wrong with it on a Bank Holiday, namely all the tourists. Still, it couldn’t be helped. The Sandcastle is on the South Promenade in Blackpool, almost directly opposite the Pleasure Beach. It’s somewhere I went a lot when growing up, but normally off season and mid week when it’s bearable. Weekends or Easter, half term or summer and it’s packed. Most days the pool opens at 10am and closes between 4.30 and 6pm. We arrived about five past ten because I know from experience how fast the car parks in Blackpool fill up. We parked right next door in the Sandcastle’s own car park. This is pretty pricey if you stay all day unless, like us, you pick a day when the meters are out of order thus leaving you with no option apart from leaving a nice note on your windscreen and, erm, not paying. If you can’t get a space here, try over the road at the Pleasure Beach, on the road in one of the pay and display parking bays or up the road in the more central multi-stories. Inside the complex there are toys and amusements and cafes and toilets before you even get near the pool. There was already a long queue to the cash desks but an entertainer (“Jezz”) was on hand to keep the kiddies entertained. Be warned, if you do have children, or intend bringing more than one person with you, the entrance fees soon mount up. It’s £5.20 per adult and £2.40 per child for those who live a long way away. Those in postcodes FY1 - FY8 and PR1 – PR5 can join special privilege clubs allowing discounted entry (proof of address is required), and family tickets are available which work out marginally cheaper if you have 2 adults and 2 or 3 children in your party. After 2pm it’s also cheaper, but not by much a nd the parking’s almost impossible, so I wouldn’t recommend it. After flashing my Fylde Family Club card (10 years old, but still valid), insisting that Quy was my adopted brother to get him in cheap too ;-) and paying, we were on our way. Once you hand over your ticket you head down the stairs (there’s a lift for wheelchair users, but it’s tiny) to the changing rooms. These are quite spacious, or at least the female ones are. There’re communal benches, individual cubicles (although with curtains rather than lockable doors), lots of lockers (returnable 50p needed), toilets, showers, play pens and a vanity alcove full of mirrors and hair dryers (20p) for making yourself look presentable as you leave. The area is generally cleanish and there’s always a member of staff around if you have any questions / comments / complaints. On the clean point, this is probably due in part to the sign in each cubicle which kindly requests that you refrain from “eating, drinking or urinating” while inside…. You could follow the signs to the pool of you can find them. I couldn’t, but then luckily years of experience helped me remember the way – go to the showers and head away from the loos and through the unmarked doors. Here the changing rooms meet and there’s a ramp up to the pool area. Bags are permitted here, so we usually put valuables in the lockers and bring towels and books out to leave by the pool side. There are 2 main pools and 2 splash pools from the chutes. Around the edge there are tacky plastic picnic style tables and chairs and sun loungers (hence the need for towels – to reserve these while you swim – German? Moi?), vending machines and a handful of cafes although all serve the same food. There are also toilets, baby changing facilities (for when your kids are doing your head in and you want to swap them for someone else’s, perhaps?), first aid stations and a los t children room, plus a small sauna. For the children there’s an entertainment area in high season where Jezz and co organise Karaoke, limbo competitions, quizzes and so on, all free of charge. There’s also Treasure Island play area and mini golf. Typhoon Lagoon is to your right as you exit the changing rooms. It slopes down getting as deep as 1.8m at the far end, although non-swimmers and those with floats or arm bands aren’t allowed this far. Twice an hour the lagoon turns into a wave pool, and the onset of this is signalled by a rather loud HONK. The other pool, Sleepy Lagoon, has baby slides, mushrooms waterfalls and a mini-jacuzzi. This pool goes up to 2m deep at one area, and there’s a small section where diving is allowed. There are 4 chutes : the Gentle Giants (blue and yellow – the blue’s faster - non-swimmers only when accompanied by swimmers) and the Barracuda and Serpent Slides (green and patterned, too steep for me now (although I liked them when we came on a trip here with Brownies many moons ago), no non-swimmers at all). The management are obviously very aware of safety requirements, unlike at some pools I’ve swum in. Everywhere there are notices stating the depth of the pool, and the life guards seem to be paying attention, at least most of the time. If an especially small child is riding on someone’s back into the deep area, for example, they’ll ask him to swim a bit to show them he can. Although this could annoy the little ones, it’s better safe than sorry. On the slides there are strict riding regulations and exclusions – pregnant women, those with back problems, glasses or goggles wearers and epileptic swimmers all have special instructions. There are 10 life guards on duty at any one time (8 on the poolside and one on each pair of flumes), and during the waves more than usual congregate around that pool. For general admissions, every under 8 must be accompanied by an ad ult on a 2:1 ratio, and under 5s on a 1:1 basis. Non-swimmers over 8 must also have a responsible over 16 year old with them at all times. No glass is allowed by the pools, including jars of baby food which should be decanted into plastic containers when you get there. The leaflet you get when you go in explains the safety information and includes a map of the complex, including depths, so you can take a minute to plan before you swim, and they even let you know how the pool’s disinfected (with a Bromide Hypochlorite System) in case you’re one of those allergic types. So after all that, what do I think? I’ve been here a lot, although not recently, and I must confess that it seems to have lost its charm. The pool is looking a little worse for wear, but it hasn’t been renovated in all the time I’ve lived here, so it’s not surprising. Although the water is clean enough, the pools themselves seem to be getting a little grotty. The policy of no food not bought inside being allowed to be eaten inside is obviously commercially viable for them, but a pain for visitors as the menu is very limited. There’s an extensive bar (bit stupid really since their leaflet states “persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not welcome in this pool” ) but the cafes only offer burgers, chips, ice cream and donuts. The prices are reasonable though – and significantly lower than inside the Pleasure Beach. The children’s play area, although fun, really requires shoes and maybe shorts and t-shirts, not just swimming costumes, unless your offspring particularly like pinched skin and scratches. I don’t know what the pool’s capacity is, but they sure seem to let a lot of people in – during our final wave session last weekend it was almost wall to wall. According to the adverts it’s the “warmest, wettest, wildest family day IN” and this plays on a good point – the lovely British weather. My advice – if you live locally and you have children, go out of season. If you come to Blackpool for a weekend and it rains, go early in the day. If you have a tattoo, go to show it off (almost every person in the pool bar me and him had one – and that’s not an exaggeration). If you want some serious swimming time, don’t go because you won’t get any. I won’t be back again in the near future, but I’m kinda at the wrong age – too old to be the kid and too young to have the kids. Still if you’re there in the near future, say hi to the flamingos for me. -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-* Sorry this is long, but I wanted to include everything. If you still want more information, have a look at www.sandcastle.co.uk This is up to date and has the times for each day they’re open this year, although be warned, their customer service is a bit poop. I emailed them through their “please, contact us!” link more than a fortnight ago, and still haven’t had a response. Blackpool Sandcastle South Promenade, Blackpool, FY4 1BB 01253 343 602 Oh and I know this isn’t about Blackpool in general, but I’ve asked them to move it as soon as they put up the right category. I would’ve waited to post it, but I’m inpatient, and plus I’m off on holiday for a week :-)