“ Address: Melton Spinney Road, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. LE14 4SB. Tel: 01664 567777 „
Now as many of you regular dooyooers are no doubt well aware by now, I do like to discover a new family day out in my local area. The subject of our today's review is our most recent find - Twinlakes Family theme park in Melton Mowbray, and I'm very happy to say it didn't disappoint.
So if it's wild rides and all action adventure you are looking for - well unlucky really.
But, for the worn down parenting population out there, particularly those with families boasting one or more pre-teenagers, I can promise you a good value day out that has something to keep everyone happy.
~~~~Getting there and admission~~~~
OK let's get the formalities out of the way. Finding the place is pretty straightforward if you come in via the main routes. A1 and then A607 to Melton Mowbray should enable you to pick up the brown signs. As for admission, there are separate summer and winter rates. It's currently advertised on the website at £8.60 per adult or child with discounted rates available for senior citizens and disabled guests (carers go free). Not sure what the 2011 prices will be but as a guide it was £11.75 per adult / child last summer. If like us you are local and you can make it more than a couple of times a year, I would recommend investing in an annual pass starting at around £40 per person. Year round easy access, come rain or shine, picnic or indoor play - they've got it covered.
When you arrive, and you take in the sweeping panorama of attractions, you won't fail to notice that clearly this place was all part of a farm at some point in the near past, and in fact there is a barn area with a few cows, pigs, sheep and goats - I believe there's even a spot of ferret racing in the summer months. But before I start racing ahead, let me guide you through the various outdoor and indoor attractions waiting to be discovered.
Head left as you go through the entrance, and you'll come to a kind of medieval / castle / themed zone. There's a nice wooden castle structure, with a variety of slides and just round the corner there's a bit of a playground area. Our eyes were drawn to a medieval jousting ride - where you get to ride on a noble mechanical steed at an extremely untroubling pace - perfect for concerned mummy riding with our little one up front, and a back to my youth granny. Not so great for a big 6ft 2 oaf in terms of leg room but we survived!
Back down the hill, assuming you can pass up the two large indoor play areas for now, you'll find a couple of bears guarding the gateway to USA Adventure land (or something like that - I get confused). Straight away our little dynamo spotted the humoungously long (for a little nipper) assault course and right then and there we knew we'd be investing in season tickets. Believe me if your kids are fans of the likes of Wipeout / Takeshis Castle / Ninja Warrior or any active game show - they will love this. Only trouble is a fair few of the obstacles do require a bit of parental assistance for the under 6's at least, so Action Daddy had his day in the sun as well. There's a start and a finish line so if you ever feel like reenacting your Krypton Factor assault course fantasies this would be the place to do it.
Next up on my best of list would have to be the downhill dinghy slide. Assuming your legs are up to the steep climb, most kids are never going to pass up an opportunity for high speed sliding, so its a guaranteed winner. Just next to it are some very odd ball bouncy 4x4s in a carosel type ride. An intriguing ride, but really recommended if you suffer from piles that is for sure. If you are seeking a bit of maritime action, you could head out on the motor powered dinghies (subject to the weather as you'd expect). If it's big water you need there are the mighty twin lakes and a selection of rowing boats and pedalos for hire. As my title suggests - these ain't exactly in the Lake District class of size!
You could then catch the train that runs around park all day long, or head back via the zip slides or the Dodgems (basically the only ride you have to pay extra for). Why not round things off with a bit of rollercoastering. 2 to choose from and no white knuckles required - well put it this way one of them's a caterpillar (the other is a buffalo). My final indulgence was a ride on the high flyers - you can be Peter Pan for just a few fleeting moments - Orville eat your heart out!
As I said earlier there are two indoor play areas and they both have fairly decent cafe areas with the usual fast food fodder mixed with a few jacket potato and sandwich based healthier options. In the smaller Pirate themed area, you'll find a barrel river ride, a little train, an inflatable pirate ship, a mini drop ride called shark bite, and a power jet ball play area upstairs.
In the main arena, which has a Gladiator theme you'll find the Soft Play. Kids get measured by the Centurions on guard (aka semi-bored people in red caps) and if they are over 90cm they can go in unaccompanied. Great we thought - our little man's quite tall for his age - of you go son. Only then did it dawn on us just how big the play zone actually was. Numerous rope ladders and inflatable climbing apparatus. A giant multi laned slide in the middle and even steeper , crazy drop slides flanking at each end. More levels than the Crystal Maze, you could lose yourself in this place. So after he came back looking fairly daunted I decided to join him on an adventure. Now it has to be said that when you are pushing 15 stone and bear footed the wooden rope bridges aren't the most comfortable , nor are the narrow squeezy tunnelly bits. But I have to say it was great fun, and probably the first soft play I've seen where the adult can join in with all the good stuff!
Once we'd emerged for a well earned rest, there was a fresh challenge awaiting. Perseus's magical mirror maze. A little unnerving it has to be said once you get in there, but after a few minutes we cottoned on that all we had to do was follow the incredibly smug kids who were shouting we know the way out and we were sorted. I'll let you uncover the secret technique for yourselves.
If you've dabbled a bit too much in the fizzy colas and burgers of the day, I wouldn't recommend taking a trip on the big drop ride in the middle of the hall -otherwise the results could be very interesting.
So far we've only visited twice, once over Halloween half term and the second time in the early run up to Christmas (late November). I have to say on both occasions they have really gone out of the way to decorate the park according to the theme. As well as ghosts and ghouls, bats and lanterns every where you looked , (plus there were a couple of guys dressed with the Scream masks who did get a few jump out of skins on the big drop ride when they sat next to the kids) they held a special pumpkin carving workshop and all the left over pumpkins could be taken home for free. Likewise at Christmas, for a small extra charge that included a half-decent present, they had a Santa's grotto including an indoor winter wonderland walk full of real christmas trees and jolly decor which went down very well with our little cherub.
So there you have it - yabba's whistlestop guide to a great family day out. Certainly looking forward to attending in warmer climes, but even if it's a rainy Sunday afternoon it's good to know that there's more than enough fun to be had in the Gladiatorial softplay alone to give us an easily accesible local option.
You could even buy a combo ticket that includes a sister park called Wheelgates up near Mansfield and one other park down in Devon.
I'm sure like most places they've suffered a bit during the downturn, but for me, it continues to be a winning formula if you've got a place where adults can bring out the big kid that's in all of us, and the little ones go home so knackered they'll sleep all the way through for once....
So come on give it a try!!
I am always on the look out for new places to take my children. All my children are young so it is very hard to find something that they can all do due to most places cater for the older children and the younger ones get a small petting farm or ball pit.
When I visited my local town I spotted a leaflet for this park and picked it up to see what they had got. I had never heard of this park before and knew that I had never visited it when I was younger so this would be an experience for us all.
The leaflet was very informative. It told you the prices and the fact that you can buy a pass for the year which you are able to use at two of the parks they have. It showed a big map of the area that displayed what they had and where it was on the site. It also stated special days that they held their such as pepper pig, halloween night and bonfire night. It stated the opening times and how to get their. It also told you on the leaflet that they had other sites which are camp sites. If you purchase a annual pass you are able to use the Woodlands park and Twinlakes park.
We decided that we would try this place in the holidays with the children due to all the facilities that it showed. We left later than what we originally stated which was about half 11am I now wish that I had left at 9 am like we had decided. It does state that you need atleast 7 hours to get the full experience of the site and that is very true. We luckly have a sat nav that took us their and it took an hour and half to get their. The only problem with the travel is that the park is not sign posted until opposite the enterence which makes it very easy to drive past.
We drove onto a very big car park and was directed on where to drive by very polite stewards. We had a slight walk to the gates which took around 5 minutes with 3 children in tow. I ensured that I took the double pushchair for my two younger children and although my 2 year old refused to go in it I would advise to take a pushchair due to it is a very large place with lots of walking.
When we were in the cue it took around 5 minutes to pay in and have the time of our lives. I thought originally that this would be an expensive day. I had packed some sandwiches, fruit, crisps and pop for the children to eat while they were there expecting to have to pay for thing when we were in the site.
The first place that we went was the toilets to ensure the children would not need it while we were walking around. The toilets were very clean and well maintained. They had disabled access and parent changing facilities which I found very good. We then got the map out and decided the we would go and see the animals they were in a very large shed, there wasn't a lot of animals their which disappointed me slightly but you were able to pet them which was nice also they had had babies so my children loved to see all the little pigs. There was sinks and handwash provided so that you are able to wash your hands after touching the animals which was very good. As we came out they had a hill that had a bridge on it where the goats were, I called it billy goats gruff's bridge which the kids thought was great. Next to that there was a maize maze, this was the children's best place. You had 12 meerkat boards that gave you information about meerkats that you had to find around the maze. This was very hard to push a pushchair around but the children loved running through it to find the next board. We did get slightly lost and it took us about half an hour to get through the whole maze. Then we saw some chickens which were in a big field and walked down to the fair. I was expecting to have to pay for the fair rides and was pleasantly surpprised to find that they were all free. We sat and had an icecream which was not overpriced like most places are. The seating area was very clean and no rubbish or nasty smells which was very good too. The rides are targeted for ages 3 and up, my son who is 6 was able to go on all the rides and my 2 year old daughter could also go on some of them as long as I was on with her. Although you had to wait in cues for the rides you were only waiting for a maximum of 2 minutes which was very good due to how impatient children can get when they have to stand and wait.
The next place we went to was a big barn shed that had got a small ball pit area for babies a slightly larger one for toddlers and a huge one for the older children, it also had a ride inside that my son loved and carosel swings for my daughter to go on which she insisted going on 3 times. There was a large seating area with a cafe where you could buy food and drink, gaming machines where you did need money for and a picnic area upstairs where you could sit and eat the food you took with you. The large ball pit area was brilliant and my daughter had me climbing around with her. It had 3 different slides, alot of rope bridges, ball pits, lots of soft play areas and tube slides. It was 3 levels high and I must say I think I had the time of my life in their with her. The fact that you are able to go in with your children is brilliants and they are also very safe to be able to let them go in alone as long as they are over the hight requirement the stewards have measuring sticks to ensure safety for the children that are going in. We later found out that above the picnic area in the building there was an ice rink and wish we had been able to go up and have a go.
They had got another shed that had another play area that my son liked because you got to shoot balls in the pit and some smaller rides. My daughter loved this one because she got to play on push along cars, she also went on a water ride. The theme of this barn was pirate and was decorated very well and also had a winter wonderland train ride for the young children. This barn also had toilets which were also very clean. I orderd food when we got their due to we were all hungry and for 3 large hot dogs, 2 large packs of chips and a large coke it cost just over £10 which I think was reasonably priced but in future I will be taking more food of my own just to save a few pennies. The staff on the counter were very helpful and polite and would go out of their way to ensure you were satified. The food was also very nice and the catering area was also very clean and well looked after.
As we were walking around their was alot of little huts that had seating areas for you to eat your own food in which was great, due to it being a lovely day when we went all the people were sitting out on the grass areas eating their food.
The best area that I went to was the falcon centre, we read all about the different birds which my son loved and we also made the show just in time they do one show at 1pm and the second at 3.30pm. We got a demonstration and we learnt alot about the birds. This show was also free to watch and the birds are very well looked after.
There was a huge outdoor castle that was made from wood this is where we lost our children for atleast an hour. It had slides and lots of levels for the children to go up. My daughter and son were playing hide and seek in their and it took me 15 minutes to find them to tell them we had to go home. Next to the castle was a swings play area which my son had a quick go on before we left.
There were peddle boats and rowing boats there with some more small rides that we never made it to which is why we are going back next year and leaving earlier.
There is only one gift shop which I liked due to in most places they are everywhere trying to make you buy things. We left at 4.30pm which meant we had a good 5 hours there and didn't get to do it all but it is a very good day for the over active children.
The price of this park is £11.75 per person if your child is under 95 cm they are free in so we only had to pay for 3 of us. Everything apart from food and drink is then free inside which makes this brilliant value for money.
You have to have a child under the age of 14 to be able to get in because it is aimed at children. It opens at 10 am and closes at 5pm for enterances.
I would advise they you wear a good pair of comfortable shoes due to their is alot of walking involved.
This is also a good place no matter what the weather is due to all the indoor areas that are provided for the children. I would advise to give this a try if you have children of all ages and is worth the money.
I will be going again next year and I am looking at going to one of the camp sites with the children for a few days next year too. Definatley worth every penny.