Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Gulliver's Warrington review

The wonderful world of Gulliver’s-Warrington

Note: I am writing this review based on my own experiences. I paid for our own tickets-this review is not endorsed by anyone.

When you have children your idea of entertainment and a day out are no longer a an afternoon of shopping followed by dinner at a fancy restaurant. Oh no. Soft play will be your ultimate destination and if you are lucky a leftover Happy Meal will be your five star lunch (as voted for by kiddies). Your DVD collection will be replaced by Scooby Doo, Disney and random films that your little cherubs have developed a thing for (Minions anyone?). And a day out starts with military planning. You check the weather, stroller access, what food outlets are on site and how much it will cost to keep your bambinos entertained. You then buy tickets, plan wardrobes and pack your nappy changing bag like you are off into the Sahara dessert or Antarctic depending on what time of the year it is. You then pack a bag of snacks and drinks. Then and maybe then you can sleep easy and leave the house by a reasonable hour. Okay so now that you understand that you are not the only parent who runs around like a loony on redbull let’s get cracking (by the way Mamas-I have a list that I use when I am packing for days out-if you would like it please let me know).

My three and half year old have developed a thrill seekers streak. She wants everyone to drive faster, and wants to go down slides head first. I do wonder if my love of adrenaline rides has worn off on little one but that’s a different story. After our semi-disastrous trip to Alton Towers I decided that I should look for a venue aimed just at kids. No really these places exist outside the world of soft play zones. The venue also needed to be within at least an hours drive-after all my 1 year old doesn’t enjoy audiobooks the way the older one does (oh yes, your CD collection will consist of Disney soundtracks-altogether now "the cold never bothered me annnnnyyyyywaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy). So with that we decided to give Gullivers World in Warrington a go.

Cost wise I must admit we had a strike of good luck-the park had discounted tickets for their Ben and Holly weekend and as some parents will know a lot of little folk are madly in love with these lovable fairies and elves. So I booked tickets at £9.00 per person. I checked the weather *sunshine-wow* and did some research online to access what was worth potentially queuing for. Some of the reviews slated the park no end. Other reviews were glowing (easily pleased perhaps?). Either way I was going to experience this place for myself.

We got to the park at around 11:30 (with oldest dresses as a Princess) and there was ample parking available-on a grassy area. We noted that if we wanted to park on the official car park we needed to arrive earlier. We decided to arrive late as my children can only really last between 3-4 hours before their batteries run flat.

We noticed a queue for tickets and bypassed them with our printed out online bargains. The staff were friendly and told us what time we could expect Ben and Holly to make an appearance on the main stage.

As soon as we got into the park the oldest was happy-very happy. The type of happy were children scream with delight. The park was clean with enough bins dotted around to keep it clean. We had a brief sit down whilst little ones had an early lunch of sandwiches (we took our own packed lunch based on the reviews of the eateries at the park-I won’t risk eating horrid food I have to pay silly money for). After lunch we waited in a small queue to have our photos taken with Ben and Holly. There was no pushing or shoving-the kids were very well behaved and the parents too.

We got our photos taken and quickly moved onto the rides. The first thing I noticed was-NO QUEUES for the rides. You read that right! No queues! And...most of the rides were suitable for a three and a half to ride-across the whole park. Not only that but a lot of rides were under cover so if rain did appear it wouldn’t spoil the day. And the icing on the cake? There were rides the oldest could ride alone and rides we could take littlest on too.

Best rides & some worth avoiding:

The best bits:
  • Tree top Swings
  • Carousel
  • Leonard’s flying raft
  • Caterpillar Rollercoaster
  • Runaway train coaster
  • Mad hatters Tea party (cups)
  • Barrel ride
  • Ellie’s Animal Merry Go Round
  • Pirate ship
  • Adventure Canyons (especially in damp/hot weather-insect overload)
  • Tomb raiders-I’ve never seen a more bored 3 and a half year old in my life *enough said*
  • Water rides-unless you have a poncho to protect clothing as wet kids tend to be grumpy. I’ve seen some cheap ponchos around so buy before you go.
Okay it’s rant time....

Hygiene of the toilets and baby changing facilities

The smell of wee drives me insane. For crying out loud how hard is it to maintain clean floors when you claim to check the toilets every hour?! I used the toilets near Ellie’s Animal Merry Go Round and there was enough water on the floor to provide a group of barbie dolls with a lake. There were two toilets that needed a good clean (why do some people NOT flush toilets?!). The smell? Bloody awful. Baby changing facilities were okay-but still needed a good clean to be up to my standards (sorry there Gulliver’s).

I also had the misfortune of using one set of toilets that had net curtains in them that looked like they needed binning. Yuck. The rest of the park was clean and tidy.

I would suggest that you do not sit near the bins or pedalos to have something to eat. The wasps will drive you insane (that’s if you have any sanity left with being the parent of a toddler/pre-schooler).

We only purchased a bottle of water and ice creams on site. The prices were reasonable.
As mentioned before this was due to reviews we read. Plus let’s face it-food is generally overpriced at Theme parks. We did see a parent complaining the fresh doughnuts she had purchased were rock hard. Not sure if they are meant to be inedible. A new diet trend perhaps? We took our own food and found plenty of suitable places to sit down and enjoy food. There is also sheltered picnic areas for when the weather is less than sunny.

First aid:
We didn’t require it however I always carry a small kit with me. I have three kits made up and left in changing bags and in the bag we take with us to the local park. Plasters, a few antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream and dry antiseptic spray and we are usually good to go.

What to pack:
  • A picnic (if you are looking at a frugal meal)
  • A small cool bag to keep drinks cool in. I froze a couple of boxes of juice and took them out in the morning. Not only did we have cool drinks but the boxes kept the food cool too.
  • Hats, glasses, sun cream
  • If you are visiting in potential wet weather take wellies
  • Your camera-unlike places like Alton Towers Gulliver's
  • have limited on ride photography
  • Wipes-ideally the antibacterial ones you use around the home. For use on chairs, baby changing and even toilets.
  • Your usual baby changing supplies
  • Your usual baby feeding stuff. I recommend that you take food pouches for little ones as they are easier to transport.
Ticket pricing
Buying in advance like many other things is more cost effective than buying on the day. There are plenty of special events at Gulliver’s Warrington-from weekends dedicated to Grandparents to Father’s Day events which often include special discounts (e.g. Daddy goes free).

Would I go again?
Well we did. We visited twice in June. We attended the Ben and Holly Weekend and then a Toddler Thursday where we paid £5.00 per person. The only ride we noticed closed was the pedalos. Would I pay full price? That’s a hard one. Yes I would only because this place made little ones happy.

We went into the shop to have a little look around and walked out with a Princess Gully mouse. She cost us less than £15.00.

Final thoughts:
Yes the park would do with a bit of a makeover. A lick of paint would be lovely. The park does look tired however let’s be realistic; kids love this place. Children can ride the majority of rides-which is the appeal of this place. Not many three year olds will notice how the paint in chipped and some of the gazebo fabric needs repairing/replacing. What matters is the little one have fun-and they did.

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