“ Address: Basingstoke Aquadrome, Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6PG / Type: Waterpark „
Since Harry's started his swimming lessons, he has really developed a love of swimming and I try to take him as often as I possibly can. Our local leisure centre where he learns to swim only has 2 pools, and isn't really much fun so recently I did a bit of research to see if there were any decent places in the area to take him swimming, and several of my mum friends told me to try the Aquadrome in Basingstoke. I've seen it a lot since I visit Basingstoke for shopping, but have never been to the Aquadrome so one Saturday when we had absolutely nothing to do, I decided to take Harry on a trip there to see what the fuss was about. Now we've been, I am sure we will be regular visitors because Harry absolutely loved it! The Basingstoke Aquadrome isn't just a swimming pool/lagoon, but it also has a fitness centre within. However, I have never visited this so for the purpose of this review, I will just be reviewing the swimming facilities. The Aquadrome is located close to the main shopping centre Festival Place, in the West Ham Leisure Park. Within the Leisure Park, there are a number of good facilities such as an Odeon cinema, Ice Skating rink, several restaurants including McDonalds, KFC and Frankie and Benny's, and a bowling rink also. Car parking is free throughout which is a bonus when you're swimming and don't want to keep watching the clock for your ticket to run out! There is plenty of car parking in front of the swimming centre, although all of the places are within walking distance of wherever you park. The Aquadrome boasts 2 swimming pool, a 25m competition pool and 20m learner pool although this isn't what most visitors come for! They come for the Lagoon - the rushing rapids, 3 flumes and spa pools that keep the kids amused for hours! The first time we went in, I was in awe because it looked fantastic - so much to do, spread out over a generous sized area and Harry was just over the moon. You enter the Lagoon at "the beach", a gently inclining slope with sandy look into the main lagoon area. This features several water sprays to get you wet, a monkey with a bucket that tips a torrent of water once it refills every 30-40 seconds or so, and this is the area most people hang around in with their children or just to have a rest. Slightly on from this is the Rushing Rapids, and boy do they live up to their name! Luckily I had decided to put Harry's arm bands on him for this trip as I didn't know enough about the pool to not have to wear them. The rapids are really quite fast and powerful, so much so that I had to hang on to Harry's hand all the way around or he would be swept away from me! It does just go in a complete circle so if you do get separated, no need to worry as you'll come out at the same place and there are lifeguards dotted all around the rapids. Around there, there are various things to look out for, some high pressure jets that are a bit powerful on your head if I'm honest, so Harry and I went around the outside to get the least impact we could, 2 spa pools inlets but you have to aim to get into them or you'll be swept by. They are quite bubbly but nice to have a little rest in! There are some toadstools to try and climb on, but we weren't successful in mounting these, too wet and slippery for us! Basically, the rapids are huge fun but unconfident swimmers do need a proper adult swimmer with them, and in fact it was quite nice just not having to kick around with Harry, just letting the current move us around the course! The depth of the rapids all around is 1.8 metres. As well as the rapids, the other main attraction has to be the 3 flumes available: Yellow Peril, Master Blaster and Space Bowl. Each of them has different safety rules and skill levels so be sure to read the signs before you and/or your children attempt them. Children do have to be a minimum of 1.10 metres tall to ride any of the rapids, and the lifeguards were frequently making children stand against the height bar, so safety was paramount and a lot were being refused entry. The safest and slowest of the flumes is Yellow Peril. You sit on an individual yellow rubber ring (with handles at the front) and allow yourself to go down the flume at a gentle speed and exit into a shallow water area. Harry was able to do this alone no problem, and loved being independent. You can't really go wrong as you can't fall off the ring (although Harry nearly fell through it cos he's so skinny!!) and if you do, you'll only continue to the bottom anyway. We both loved this one and did it several times! The second is the blue flume, Master Blaster. You ride this one on a 2 person blue rubber float, with the lightest person at the front. This one is a faster speed, and a bit more hairy for younger riders, and Harry did graze his back at a couple of the uphill bits as the hole was slightly too big for him, but we did enjoy it. This one was faster, had a few dark sections and we got a lot wetter on this one. The one we didn't attempt was the green slide, the Space Bowl. You aren't allowed to ride this one if you wear armbands, so I couldn't try it as I couldn't leave Harry but the queue when it was open was really big. You ride this one without a ring, and at the end, you drop into a large bowl, whirling round and round until you drop into the deep pool below, it did look cool! The worst thing about the flumes was the 4 storey stair climb all the way up each time, carrying 2 heavy rubber rings as well. You have to grab whichever float you want from the bottom of the appropriate flume, lug it up the stairs, then ride it, but it's hard work carrying them up there on your own time and time again. However, it was worth it as Harry loved it. We did go in the learner pool, which was a depth of 0.9m which was perfect for me as I could touch the bottom, and Harry felt quite confident with his arm bands on in this depth too. This pool was cooler than the lagoon and rapids but not in any way cold. You can walk through between the pools as you please, although I have to say I didn't see the 25m competition pool while we were there. Facilities wise, there were plenty of lockers, which took a £1 coin that is returned when you put your key in to open it. The lockers are a good size too and easily held all of our things. There were plenty of changing cubicles, includinng several double ones for families which was useful. There were showers at the end of each row that were nice and warm, toilets were well signposted, and there is also a vanity room as you leave with lots of mirrors, and hairdryers too, 20p for around 5 minutes which was great just to dry off my hair a little bit. Overall, I was really impressed with everything at Basingstoke Aquadrome, and Harry and I had such a fun time. We were there almost 3 hours, and for the £9.10 entrance I paid for the both of us, I think it was very good value for money. The pools were warm and clean, yes it was busy but we queued at the flumes for no more than 5 minutes a time which I thought was great. The only negative for me was the staircases and carrying up the heavy rings but needs must I suppose! I would definitely recommend the Aquadrome for swimming purposes to anyone living near Basingstoke as you can easily spend a fun few hours here in a safe and warm environment having lots of fun. Do be aware of pool depths, heigh restrictions and things before you go though to avoid disappointment. Fun for all, and it comes with a huge thumbs up from me and Harry, we can't wait to go again! For more information see http://www.basingstokeleisure.com/aquadrome Swimming Prices (for other prices see the website above): Peak Adult: £5.70 Peak Junior: £3.40 Family: £16.00 Normal Centre Opening Times: Monday to Friday 06:00 - 22:00 Saturday & Sunday 07:00 - 20:00 Bank Holidays 07:00 - 20:00 Thank you for reading.