places we have been in Blackpool
by louisechackett on October 23, 2012
Last month my friend and I made our way to Blackpool for the day with the intention of heading to the arcades, having some tea and then driving through the illuminations. The illuminations are on from September until early November I believe in Blackpool and they are a series of lights which fill the whole promenade and are usually nice to look at when the nights are dark.As we walked down the promenade in Blackpool there were of course people around selling the flashing toys which are always so popular in Blackpool around the time of the illuminations and whilst people do walk down the road trying to sell these to people in their cars we decided to purchase them from the street and were charged a very reasonable three pounds each for them. Had we purchased them off someone on the road they would have been at least five pounds and so we were happy with our savings.After we had eaten our tea we got back in the car to drive down through the illuminations and we soon found that the traffic was pretty much at a stand still as we tried to make our way through them. Whilst we know that the traffic is usually bad during the illuminations and worse at a weekend this was the worst that we had ever seen it. What was frustrating was one side of the road seemed to be moving a little better but as we tried to make our way to that side the other side of the road cleared and again we were stuck in stand still traffic. If drivers would just drive at a nice slow pace through the lights instead of stopping there would be so many less issues like this and I do think it is something that Blackpool Council need to look at and perhaps make provisions for.We were able to make our way towards Blackpool Pleasure Beach to see the Nickelodeon themed illuminations which were characters from SpongeBob squarepants and Dora the Explorer and so the children were pleased with them but we turned round just after these to try and make our way back towards the Tower end of Blackpool and so we had basically to see the same lights we had seen before and as the traffic was so bad it took us over an hour and a half to do this and it was 10pm and the children were exhausted so we had to call it off as a bad job which was such a shame.There are some lovely lights in Blackpool during the illuminations and the moving ones down past the tower are lovely to look at each year. I love how the Tower is lit up and changes colour and whilst it is a little bit tacky it is a nice traditional thing to do with your family but the traffic problems just make it a nightmare. Whilst we could have left the car on a car park and walked through the lights we felt our children were too small to do this as it is a massive walk to get through all of the lights and so we are hoping to visit again before the lights are shut off and see if we have a better experience. I would say if your child is in a buggy to walk through the lights as it will make your life a lot easier but you will need to wrap up warm as it is always freezing by the sea!
by louisechackett on October 3, 2012
My friend and I had taken our children to Blackpool a couple of weekends ago with the intention of spending some time in the arcades then going to Frankie and Benny’s for tea before driving through the illuminations. When we got to Frankie and Benny’s at 7.20pm we were told that we would have an hours wait just before we were seated and it wasn’t fair to make the children wait around for an hour before eating as it was already way past their usual time of eating. When we saw a McDonalds just over the road we decided it would make more sense to go over there for some fast food before attempting the illuminations.==McDonalds==I would be quite surprised if anyone hasn’t heard of McDonalds and the food they do but just in case I will give a quick overview!McDonalds is an American style fast food outlet which offers burgers, nuggets, chips and such like. The burgers offered do often include some limited edition specials but for the most part the menu is standardised and so you know what to expect no matter which McDonalds you visit.==McDonalds, Blackpool==The McDonalds we visited in Blackpool on this occasion is situated very near to Blackpool Football Club and can be found at the following address:McDonald's - Blackpool - Rigby RoadRIGBY ROAD LEISURE PARKRIGBY ROAD BLACKPOOLLANCASHIREFY1 5EPOn the occasion we visited it was quite busy as it was a Saturday night with the illuminations on but I wouldn’t like to see it on a match day because it was pretty horrible even on a non match day. The interior of the restaurant was bright and modern with greens and oranges being used as a colour scheme alongside dark wood. What I didn’t like is that through the centre of the restaurant is a panel which whilst isn’t solid makes it very difficult to keep your eyes on your children at the table whilst you are ordering and this makes me uncomfortable especially when it is busy. As the restaurant was so busy we had asked our children to sit on one of the limited tables available to us so that we wouldn’t have to stand when we ate. A member of staff did approach the children and give them a colouring sheet and some crayons so this kept them busy whilst we ordered which I thought was helpful.We had a short wait before we were served as there were a lot of people wanting to order as well as a busy drive through window too. At the counter I ordered a big mac meal which comes with fries and a drink and I ordered a happy meal with chicken nuggets for my son which comes with the same. We also ordered two McFlurry ice creams for after our meal. The meal came to around £9.00. The girl who took my order did seem a little flustered and forgot to give me my drink and I hadn’t noticed initially and so when I returned for it she did seem a bit put out but sorted it out quickly for me.The food was hot enough but not too hot that you couldn’t eat it and the area with paper napkins, straws and salt was well stocked despite being busy. A member of staff was walking around clearing some trays that people had left and tending to full bins so they did seem to be on top of things there despite it being pretty busy.The toilets were fine to use and clean but being busy there was a wait to use them but it wasn’t too long a wait thankfully.I would probably visit this McDonalds again if I was in the area as it was a pretty standard experience to other McDonalds I have been to but I just wish it wasn’t as busy as this does detract from enjoying the experience really.Thank you for reading my review!
by louisechackett on September 29, 2012
==Where is Coral Island?==Coral Island is situated on the main promenade in Blackpool and is down by the tower and so you are unlikely to miss it. From the outside it certainly looks the best of the amusement arcades in Blackpool as it has a large pirate style ship sitting above the front entrance to it and it looks to be quite well presented in a town where you do expect the bulk of the places to be quite tacky for want of a better word.There is a car park very near to Coral Island which you do pay for but it is an excellent place to park and is handy for visiting the beach, the sea life centre, the tower and of course Coral Island.You can find Coral Island itself at the following address Promenade, Blackpool FY1 5DW but I would just be mindful that there are a lot of one way systems in Blackpool and so your sat nav may lead you all around the houses!==Inside Coral Island==Coral Island is the biggest of the amusement arcades in Blackpool and as such I do think most people seem to congregate in this one. It has certainly always been busy when we have visited and when we visited this last weekend it was actually uncomfortable in there because of the sheer amount of people that were in there.There is various change machines dotted around the arcade but there are also a couple of manned change counters too. I can honestly say that every single time I have asked for a note changing to pound coins in one of these counters the staff haven’t smiled or spoken and have generally looked fed up to be there. Whilst I realise they are dealing with a lot of people throughout the day I still think customer service with a smile should be present!As you enter Coral Island through the main doors there are various small rides which you can pay to pop your children on. These usually cost 50p to £1 and can often be found being subjected to having adults sitting on them as they pose for hen party photographs or something! Further inside the amusement arcade there are some larger rides which are quite popular with smaller children but my son and my friend’s daughter don’t often ask to go on those ones. There is a small track ride which our children do quite like and you need to purchase tokens for this one. From memory I think you get a couple of tokens for two pounds so it isn’t too bad value really. There are lots of different cranes in Coral Island which can be used to win soft toys for the most part. These cost around 25p a go but it is more usual to pop a pound in and have four goes. I have never won a teddy in Coral Island through use of a crane but you do see some people carrying them around so they can’t all be useless! We do often find though that the cranes just don’t shut properly around the toy or large toys have been placed inside a crane with a tiny grabber so it just can’t cope with the weight of the toy! This fact of course doesn’t stop people trying their luck and so they are often very busy as you walk around the arcade.As you enter the main part of Coral Island there is a Kentucky derby area which does seem quite popular to play as there are rarely seats available to sit down and play! I suppose people like this as your odds of winning a soft toy are around 12/1 and you are able to upgrade your prize for larger ones should you win more than one game. This isn’t something we often play as there are never enough seats for the four of us to sit down and play.There are plenty of two pence and ten pence machines dotted around for those people who like those machines and there is also an over eighteens zone where people can play what I would class as "pub" machines to try and win larger amounts of money.The main area where we spend our time is actually around the machines which allow you to win tickets as prizes as my son and my friend’s daughter love collecting tickets which can then be exchanged for prizes. The range of machines in this area is good really and so you have things such as ten pence slot machines where we often win lots of tickets, deal or no deal, bejewelled blitz, ball drop games and other similar things. Depending on your luck on the day and how much other people have put in the machines before you (!) you can often win a decent amount of tickets in this area but the issue with being in this area is you can often spend up to twenty pounds in a short space of time as you just don’t realise it is all going to be honest. On Saturday my son and I spent ten pounds and for this amount we won 475 tickets. Around the main area of the machines that give tickets there are around eight machines in which you feed your tickets to and then print a voucher out saying how many you have and take that to the shop where all the prizes are. I would say that as a general rule of thumb at least half of these machines are always blocked and so there are often long queues to exchange tickets! On Saturday my son and I waited fifteen minutes before we could get to a machine as a couple had literally bags of tickets to put in to the machine. There don’t seem to be all that many staff working on maintaining the machines to say it is such a large area and you can often be left looking for a member of staff to replace the ticket roll in your machine or deal with something that has gone wrong which is frustrating because the arcade must be making a fortune with tourists frequenting it!There is generally a queue for when you want to exchange your tickets for prizes at the shop too and so I would advise you take a quick look before you get in the queue and see what you want before you start queuing as it seems to make the whole experience easier, especially with children about. Once more the staffs in this area are looking fed up, busy and hot and so they don’t really come across as having great customer service skills. This is something we are used to now but as a tourist I would be really disappointed I think. On this occasion my son exchanged his 475 tickets for a small angry birds basketball, a blue plastic water gun and some sweets. They do have a good range of me to you gifts in which aren’t too many tickets and so there is usually something for everyone but I would say that you can probably just buy the item you win for less money than you spend getting tickets but that isn’t as fun is it?!==Toilets==The toilets in Coral Island are located right in the middle of the arcade. There are male and female toilets and a baby changing area as well.I have never seen any staff around the toilets and despite there being around eight cubicles in the ladies toilets there is more often than not a queue to get in.The toilets aren’t always the best in here to be honest as people don’t seem to care about if they are weeing on the seat or dropping things on the floor and so we don’t like going in to the toilets much but on some occasions we have to just make do.==Overall==I do think that Coral Island is the best amusement arcade in Blackpool for the sheer amount of different options available to you when you go in there. There is really something for all the family to do. The issue with being the best in the area is simply that the amount of people that pile in to Coral Island can make it ridiculously hot and uncomfortable and they don’t have enough staff to cope with the demands of the people in there either.I would say that I recommend going to Coral Island but just be prepared that as always in an amusement arcade your money will not get you very far and it may not be the most comfortable of experiences for the time you are in there. My son and my friend’s daughter love it in there which is probably why we do return and will continue to do so but there is a lot of improvements that could and should be made to this site.
by louisechackett on September 19, 2012
==Booking and Prices==Given that it is quite expensive to go to the theme park my friend and I decided to use some tesco clubcard vouchers to purchase an adult wrist band each which cost £9.50 in vouchers but if you were to purchase them using cash they would have cost us £35.00 at the time that we went which is obviously peak time. We both purchased a child’s wristband online which cost £20.00 each but this did allow us to go on other rides around the park as well as Nickelodeon Land.==Arriving==We arrived around 10.30am and the park opened at 10am. Times change obviously depending on the season and so it is worth checking out the website before you go. We parked on the car park next to the theme park and near to the Travelodge hotel and this cost us £7.50 for the day which isn’t too bad really. Despite arriving not long after the park opened there were quite long queues to get the wrist bands and even if you have booked online you do need to queue up to go and get your band put on. They do have plenty of staff working in the ticket office though and so we only waited for around five minutes. Staff put the wrist band on your arm for you and then you need to go through another gate and through some security measures which I can only liken to those in an airport. ==Nickelodeon Land==There is a short walk past some of the larger rides before you get to Nickelodeon Land. As I mentioned we did purchase wristbands which ensured we would be able to go on all of the rides in the park should we wish to but we couldn’t really make the most of them because our children are seven and four respectively and weren’t up for riding roller coasters for the most part! Nickelodeon Land isn’t that old really. It was built in 2011 and replaced Beaver Creek which was the area I remember from visits to Blackpool Pleasure Beach as a child. As expected from such a new build the six acre area is brightly coloured and features rides which look modern and colourful. Even as an adult I appreciated the coolness of this area and my son in particular was really excited to see areas such as "The Krusty Krab" as he is a real spongebob squarepants fan. There are actually only twelve rides within Nickelodeon Land and I was surprised by this as it is a large area but there was actually plenty to keep us going despite the fact that a couple of rides seemed to be out of action due to high winds on the day we visited.What I found really frustrating was the fact that to enter a ride you needed to scan the bar code on your wrist band and much like on the tesco self service check outs there always seemed to be issues! There were members of staff there to help out when required but given that the children were wanting to go on some rides on their own I did feel like the system was a little bit silly. Fairy world taxi spin was the first ride that we went on and despite the name it isn’t really a girly ride and so my son was happy enough to get on it! You are sat in a taxi but there are buttons in each cab and so you are able to control if you go up in the air and when with that. My son thought it was hilarious as we bumped as he brought us back down from the sky and so this ride was a huge hit for him!Diego’s rainforest rescue was the next ride we went on and this was a hot air balloon style ride but each balloon had a handle in the middle much like on the tea cups ride which you could turn to make your balloon spin whilst in the air! My son thought this was great again but it made me feel quite sick and so I did have to limit the spinning on this one! The kids enjoyed being lifted in the bikini Bottom bus tour and as it was one they could go on on their own they felt quite grown up I think.The blue flyer is a mini rollercoaster for the kids and I have to say I loved this one as much as my son and would have happily gone on it again! There isn’t many big drops but it does tickle your tummy some what as it whizzes around and so it was a fun ride to go on. The larger Nickelodeon streak roller coaster was running but we didn’t go on this one as my friend doesn’t love roller coasters and I didn’t want to take my son on it and leave her daughter sitting alone or vice versa. The backyardigans pirate treasure was a little boat ride that my son and his friend went on alone but I have to say it whizzed round quite quickly! The kids loved it and felt grown up going on it on their own too. They also went on the Krusty Krab order up ride which is basically a ride which lifts them in the air then drops them quite suddenly. My friend and I were laughing so much watching them and wondering if they were terrified or that they loved it but they both came off and were asking to go on it again! The ride which needs the most special mention is spongebob’s splash bash. I have to say I was terrified about going on this ride because the concept is simply that your boat is lowered in to the water and you spin a handle which in turns works a water gun which you spray at the others boats and people watching from the side lines! My friend told me the last time she went on this she was soaked and given that I am a girly girl with my hair and make up nice I was worried I would look a drowned rat or be a target for people! Still I got on with it and got on the ride and can honestly say it was one of the funniest things I have ever been on! You literally do get very wet, even with your hood up but squirting unsuspecting people who on concentrating on getting other people wet is hilarious and we all thought this was the best ride of the day! There are drying booths for you to go in when you come out but we didn’t bother and we did dry off naturally relatively quickly.The rides are obviously the main focus in Nickelodeon land and they are colourful, modern looking. At no point did I feel unsafe and to be honest there are some rides in the main area of the pleasure beach that I wonder why they haven’t fallen to pieces yet! Obviously around the area they do want to make extra money off us parents and so the children did have a go on a hook a duck game which cost four pounds for two go’s and in the end my son ended up with a rubbish little cushion being thrown at him by the attendant which he could attach to his window and he was quite upset by this. In retrospect I do wish that I had just called in the Nickelodeon shop and given him a fiver to spend because at least then he would have had some choice over what he got.There is a designated area where characters come out to meet and greet the children and you can have your photo taken with them. There is an official photographer taking photo’s but we were allowed to take our own pictures too at this point. My son had his picture taken with SpongeBob and Patrick from SpongeBob Squarepants.==Overall==I would certainly recommend a trip to Nickelodeon land with your children. I think the area is bright, modern and fun for all of the family and it is a great day out. I would recommend looking to tesco clubcard vouchers or visiting during term time or out of season if you can simply because it can prove to be expensive for all of the family to go but I do still very much recommend it as a day out. It does frustrate me that bags are checked for food and drink and you are not allowed to take your own in because I feel the costs are already expensive enough to go in to the attraction but you can leave the park and get your hand stamped for a later return and just head to a chip shop or café nearby.
During the summer holidays my friend and I took our children to Nickelodeon land which is situated in Blackpool pleasure beach. It is quite frustrating that Blackpool pleasure beach will not allow you to take sandwiches or drinks in with you for your lunch and so you do need to either eat in the park or head out of the park and get your hand stamped so you are able to return a little later on. We had planned on heading out of the park to eat because we thought that it would be cheaper but whilst in Nickelodeon land we noticed the Big Pizza Kitchen which offered all you could eat lunch and decided to try there instead. The restaurant opens at 11am and shuts an hour before the rides shut down for the day which obviously depends on season.==Appearance==The Big Pizza Kitchen did look appealing from the outside I have to say. It featured lots of glass windows but you couldn’t see right in to the restaurant so as a diner you aren’t going to feel as though you are in a goldfish bowl which is nice in such a busy area.There was a board outside the restaurant telling us that adults all you could eat cost £7.95 and children £4.95. There was no queue to get in and this did add to the decision to go in and eat there. When we got in the restaurant there were plenty of dark wooden tables with black chairs around them. The floor was a dark laminate and with the bar in the corner the restaurant gave the impression of being more high street than one situated inside a theme park. There is an outside seating area at the top end of the restaurant but we didn’t really want to sit outside and it was only as the restaurant became busy at around 12.30 that people seemed to start heading outside that way.==Inside the restaurant==When we walked in to the restaurant although there were a few staff scattered around there were none at the entrance and so we just made our way to a table and sat down. Seeing other people come in later there was a member of staff waiting to show them to a table so perhaps we should have waited but nobody rushed over to us! A waitress did come over to our table after a couple of minutes and we asked whether drinks were included in the offer. We were told we would have to purchase them separately but unlimited refills of fizzy drinks were only a couple of pounds each and so we decided to opt for those. She took our order for the buffet and drinks and it was no problem to pay for our meals separately as we were both paying by card. When we had placed our order she returned with plates for us all to take down to the buffet area. The buffet area compromised a large metal area where you could see the pizzas being cooked. This area had the pizzas and pastas on. There was also a free standing cart which featured the salad and dips as well. The whole area seemed clean which was nice and although I didn’t see anyone cleaning up I can only presume they were doing it as they went along as there were no bits of food that had been dropped on the floor or the sides when I went up each time.There were a few pizzas on offer such as cheese and tomato, ham and pineapple, spicy chicken, pepperoni and meat feast. There were also a couple of plates of sliced garlic bread as well. The plates were regularly topped up and I went down three times and saw a good selection of pizza each time so they were really on top of the amount of pizza required to cater for a busy lunch time in my opinion. I wasn’t really keen on the pizzas for the most part and whilst I tried a couple of pieces I found that it was quite doughy. Everyone else on the table enjoyed them though so I suspect I was just being a little fussy! I did really enjoy the garlic bread which was thin and crispy but I wish they cut it in to eight as opposed to small rectangles because I felt greedy picking a few pieces up at a time!The pasta on offer was all penne but one was in a tomato and herb sauce whilst the other was in a cheesy sauce with bits of ham. There was nothing to tell us what the pastas were and so although basic we did have to work this out for ourselves. I did find the pasta to be quite bland and tasteless in all honesty and it was in no way authentic.The salad bar wasn’t particularly inviting in terms of offering lots of variety. There were basic salad items such as lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion and corn but not a lot else and to be honest I expect more from a place which offers all you can eat salad as one of it’s options. Perhaps they think people will just fill up on pizza and pasta instead but I would have liked a set up more like pizza huts salad bar which offers much more variety. Another negative was that there was nothing to say which any of the dressings were and so as such it was guess work and I decided to avoid them all in case I got something I didn’t like.Drinks was also self serve as we chose to get refills on fizzy drinks. There was ice in buckets for us to add to our drinks as well as straws too. Getting a drink was easy and there was never a queue when we needed one despite the restaurant becoming very busy around 12.30.When in the restaurant we asked if there was a toilet and were told only the ones outside which were for the whole of Nickelodeon land and I did think this was disappointing. We were paying for a meal and it wasn’t cheap in my opinion and so I would expect to be able to go to the toilet whilst in there.==Overall==Whilst the food was ok I don’t think I would go back to this restaurant simply because I wasn’t completely taken with the food and there were a few too many negatives to make it a first class experience. When I pay £16 ish for a lunch I do expect to know what I am getting and to have a good choice on an all you can eat buffet and there just wasn’t enough in my opinion.Thank you for reading my review!
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