Gulliver’s World Hotel – Warrington

With a last minute spark of inspiration, we booked to stay at Gulliver’s World Hotel in Warrington. Having booked it at 2.30pm on Friday afternoon for that evening, we raced to get over the Pennines to have a really, really fun one night stay.

The main reason to stay at Gulliver’s World Hotel is to go to Gulliver’s World, and you can read about the theme park itself here.  We have been more than a few times and we absolutely love it. We cannot wait for the new one to be open in South Yorkshire in 2020!!

Gulliver’s World Hotel Facilities

Gulliver’s World Hotel is a standard hotel and whilst it doesn’t have any special facilities such as a gym, you’re likely to be shattered after running after the children!

The car parking is free and you can get quite close to the entrance. However, one tip is to move  your car from next to the hotel to near the park entrance in the morning. You’ll be glad to save the 50 yards walk at the end of the day!

Gulliver’s World Hotel playroom
Gulliver’s World Hotel playroom

In the hotel, there is an activity room full of toys and children’s books, which all the children loved. Also, there is a mini playground outside, but it was too dark/wet for us to play in that. Also, the hotel bar has a video game console which is free to play on!

The Rooms

We stayed in the Family Suite, which was quite generic apart from the children’s beds. However, going through the range of hotel rooms, there are loads of really cool options available!!

The room was a very decent size and the bathroom was good, having a shower over the bath, which gives loads of options. The room had everything that you would want.

Gulliver’s World Hotel top bunk
Gulliver’s World Hotel top bunk

However, the highlight was the children’s beds, which were bunk beds and each bed had its own TV! Also, there was a blackboard for the children to draw on and the decor was amazing and made it look as though they were in treehouses.

Bottom bunk!

Their beds were tucked away, with a curtain divider so they had their own den, but you could hear them and they could come to you in case of nightmares etc!! It was simply perfect!!

We ordered a sweetie tray as a little treat and I am somewhat ashamed to say that the children barely ate any as they were eaten by the grown-ups!! However, the presentation was brilliant!

The Evening Entertainment

Quite often Gulliver’s World Hotel has themed weekends, some of which are more popular than others. Ours was Unicorn and Fairy weekend, but this wasn’t a deal breaker and to be honest, there is more than enough variety for everyone.

At around 6pm, there is a little show at the hotel before you are guided into the park (after hours!). We were late to this, but apparently, they went on a fairy hunt around the park, before going on a couple of the smaller rides.

After this, we went into the Starlight Theatre for a mini show and a photo opportunity with a real Unicorn (maybe!).

This took us to about 7pm and then we could toast our own marshmellow on an open fire. This resulted in a slight meltdown by Heidi because we were telling her to be careful with the stick, but never mind!!

Toasting marshmellows

The Cookie Monster then made an appearance to give out cookies (obviously!) and milk before a film (Aladdin) was shown on a projector. One nice thing was that there was colouring in for the children to do whilst watching the film, which Heidi loved!

By this point, the children were mainly playing in the activity room, or making their way to bed!! We, however, hadn’t had our afternoon tea (part of the package!) so we had what was possibly our poshest supper ever!! It isn’t usually my thing, but it was amazing and a lovely end to the evening!!

Gulliver’s World Hotel Afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea

In the morning

Depending on how well you sleep, you’ll be ready for a day in the park.  You get to go into Gulliver’s World before it opens and whilst the rides aren’t open, you’ll have a show whilst eating breakfast.

We had a very enjoyable magic show in the Starlight theatre and had a breakfast butty whilst the children had cereal and mini muffin.

Gulliver’s World Hotel Breakfast entertainment
Breakfast entertainment

Heidi’s “step-brother”, Oscar, is allergic to diary and the staff were really good in making sure we had the right milk for him, even without having had much notice!

The magic show was at 9.30am, which allowed for a leisurely morning, although we were waiting round for 20 minutes or so for the park to open. It seemed as though those in the know went back to the hotel, so that is probably a good idea for next time!

After all that, we had an amazing time in the park and our love of Gulliver’s World continues to grow.  It is just right for Heidi and at the end of the mini break, she asked to stay over again, so we need to start saving again!!


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National Space Centre

If you’re looking for an “out of this world” day out, check out the National Space Centre in Leicester! (Ok, that’s the only pun I’ll make!)

What is at the National Space Centre?

It’s safe to say that the National Space Centre is an educational attraction. As such, don’t expect high-thrill rides, but don’t expect to be bored either! We went when Heidi was still 5 and she understood a lot of the information. I think any younger would struggle, although the visuals would be extremely stimulating for them.

You can even play Guess Who!!

There are several sections to the National Space Centre, although there isn’t a specific route to take, so you’re free to take your own journey. The planetarium show is absolutely brilliant and well worth booking a showing (free) when you enter. Even if you don’t like the show, you’ll love the theatre!!

National Space Centre planetarium ceiling
The planetarium ceiling

The Tranquility Base is probably the most hands-on attraction at the National Space Centre. This is because you can do a number of activities that astronauts do in space, from operating a space rover to prioritising supplies on the space station. It can get a little busy here, so you might be best to leave this until lunchtime/afternoon.

National Space Centre space rover
Working a space rover

There is plenty of educational bits and pieces throughout the National Space Centre, as you can see. There are sections tailored to primary school children, but also some for grown-ups. As such, some might be too complicated for some children, so you might have to do some explaining!!

Heidi’s favourite bit was the chance to read the weather forecast.  Whilst it is for all people, you do need to be able to read quite well, so adult support might be needed! There is the chance to email a video of the forecast to yourself, which is a nice touch.

Reading the weather forecast

National Space Centre Staff

You’ll see National Space Centre staff dotted around the attraction with pop up exhibits. They are very approachable and brilliant with children, so try and get your child to engage with them!

National Space Centre staff
Talking about animals who have gone into space

Food

There are picnic tables to eat your own food, but if you’re anything like us, the picnic will have been eaten on the way to the National Space Centre!! They sell the standard cafe meals and the pricing wasn’t too bad at all. Make sure you sit towards the back of the seating area, near the rocket and have the chance to press the ignition button!!

National Space Centre food
Eating pasta from the cafe

Accessibility

The venue is pushchair/pram friendly, although I suspect that children of that age will be too young for the attraction.  One cool thing that they offer is ear defenders, which may help children with slight sensory difficulties. I wouldn’t say that they are needed generally, but Heidi took a likening to them!!

National Space Centre ear defenders
Rocking the National Space Centre ear defenders!

The venue is fully indoors which does help.

Tickets

As with a lot of attractions, the ticket lasts for 12 months, which makes it good value for money, even if you just go twice. Just make sure you look after your ticket (which I have lost!!)

Parking

There is plenty of parking on site, for which you can pay by coins or card. There is helpful member of staff who can provide assistance if needed.

Conclusion

The National Space Centre is a brilliant day out and decent value for money. We were there for about 5 hours and felt that we could have done a few things more than once. As such, it is a brilliant rainy day activity, given that it is all inside!!


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Bodnant Garden

A very rare child-free weekend landed in our laps and we took the trip to North Wales, in part to go to Bodnant Garden.  It is a National Trust property, and so if you are a member, it is free to go in!

Location

Bodnant Garden is about 5 miles south of Conwy and Llandudno on the North Wales coast. It takes about 2 hours from Leeds on a weekend and the drive is pretty easy all the way. The main area of interest along the way is the bilingual signs once in Wales, which can take a couple of miles to get used to!

Bodnant Garden is well signposted (in Welsh and English) once you get near Conwy so whilst it is off a country road, it is an easy find.  Perhaps the best part is that parking is completely free – a rare find nowadays!!

What is at Bodnant Garden?

Unsurprisingly, Bodnant Garden is a garden based attraction! However, it is more than just one little garden! You can easily spend half a day in the gardens, exploring the trees, flowers, waterfalls and so much more.

Top Tip! Make sure you get a free map when you enter.  As the gardens are so big, you can easily get lost!

As Bodnant Garden is set in the foothills of Snowdonia, the terrain is a little hilly. As a result, those with little legs might find certain bits difficult. Therefore, you might want to plan a nice steady route for them.

The paths are fully paved and completely pushchair friendly. As such, you don’t need walking boots to go round the garden. However, as there is water, children may find the urge to splash and get wet a little too strong. As such, take wellies and a change of clothes!!

Is Bodnant Garden child-friendly?

Unless you have a child really interested in nature, children aren’t going to appreciate Bodnant Garden as much as adults. However, if you want to get them some decent exercise, then it is a really good venue. There wasn’t anything child-specific when we went, but it is a perfect place to explore, play hide and seek and play “old fashioned” outdoor games.

Yes, there is plenty of water!!

There are a couple of locations throughout the garden which have toilets (which were very clean!). However, as they are spread apart, you might be best to plan a route so you’re not too far away from them.

Outside of the garden is a mini adventure playground, which is just big enough to allow them to play. However, they may be too tired after all the walking!!

Adventure Park
Bodnant Garden adventure park

Facilities

There are a couple of cafes within the garden, as well as at the entrance. Also at the entrance are a couple of shops which sell relatively unique items, which are tailored to the older visitor. But still some little bits for the children.

As you go into the reception area, you’ll notice a couple of umbrellas to use (free of charge). This was a nice touch, and given the climate of the area, if it looks like rain, it is likely to rain!!

What else is there to do??

As Bodnant Garden is unlikely to take all day, there is plenty to explore in the area. We spent a couple of hours in Conwy, and had a lovely afternoon tea at Anna’s Tea Room. This was bookended with a lovely walk round the marina and village.

Afternoon tea in Conwy
Afternoon Tea in Conwy

The other side of the River Conwy is Llandudno, which is probably more child friendly in its attractions. As such, there is enough to do either with or without the kids.

On the way back, we called into Chester to do a spot of shopping and to relax a bit. This broke up the journey home a little, although you’ll want to keep on going home if the children are asleep!!

Continue reading Bodnant Garden

Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels – Show Review

We were invited* to City Hall in Sheffield to take in Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels for the purposes of this blog post.  Hopefully it will give you a little taste of what the show is like, and whether it is right for you.

If you want to read the preview post, you can find it here:

Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels splash image

What actually happens?

Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels is a show split in two halves. The first half includes an interactive story between Wallace and Gromit on the big screen and the orchestra. Mixed in are “proper” pieces of music played by the orchestra, which don’t have a link to Wallace and Gromit. However, the pieces are played to such a high standard, and Heidi’s favourite was the full length version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was so nice!

The second half of Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels was a showing of “The Wrong Trousers”. What made it extra special was the orchestra playing the background music to add extra drama. They certainly added an extra dimension, but some of it was too effective and made it a bit too scary at times for Heidi!!

Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels Stage

How long does it last?

Each half is about 40 minutes long with a 20 minute interval. Some children got a little restless towards the end of the first half because during the music, there isn’t much to see. However, the second half was clearly more visual and more wriggle-proof.

Is there a good place to sit?

We had good seats in the circle and the middle, but really, the screen is so large you can see it anywhere.  I can see the appeal of being in the front couple of rows to see the orchestra up close, but you’ll be getting neckache looking up at the screen.

Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels screen
Our view of the screen!

Is it suitable for children?

Yes!! For smaller children, it might be the first time that they see Wallace and Gromit and so I felt like I was passing on the baton to Heidi. Would it have been a good idea to show Heidi a Wallace and Gromit episode? Possibly, but explaining the characters as the show was on was also fun!

If truth be told, you can quite happily go without the children because the music is so good. That way you can relive the “good old days” whilst watching The Wrong Trousers.

Some members of the orchestra dress up!!

Is there any merchandise?

Yes! If Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels has had a positive impact, there is a stall selling merchandise before, in the middle and the end of the show. They do take card and whilst some items may be a little expensive, it is quite difficult to find Wallace and Gromit merchandise.

* Whilst we received free tickets for the purposes of this blog post, no influence has been made to alter this blog post.

Continue reading Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels – Show Review

M&M’s World – London

Ok, it might be a bit strange me doing a blog post about a shop. However, M&M’s World is such a cool shop, I feel as though it needs a writing about!

M&M's World splash image

What is at M&M’s World?

M&M’s World is a shop over 4 floors full of everything related to M&M’s. From socks to tablewear, T-shirts to personalised M&M’s, it has everything that you could imagine.  The store is bright and colourful, with upbeat music being played throughout, it is a really positive experience going there.

Photo opportunity at M&M's World
M&M guest appearance!

Why is M&M’s World more than just a shop?

There are loads of photo opportunities here for young and old alike. From M&M’s cars, to M&M’s mimicking the legendary Beatles image of them crossing the road, as well as random M&M characters showing up for photos, there is more to do than just shop.

M&M's as the Beatles
M&M’s as the Beatles

Heidi’s favourite activity in the store was doing the mood personality test. Whilst it did show that she did indeed have a personality, it did differ each time she did it, therefore, it could be a sign of temperamental teenage years to come!!

M&M's World personality test
M&M’s World personality test!

Our magical M&M’s World experience

The main reason for writing this was when we visited M&M’s World in February 2019, we were approached by Philip-Alexander, who worked in their marketing department. I think that this was because Heidi was wearing a cool M&M’s T-shirt bought on a previous visit!!

We were asked a few questions about various products, price points and generally, whether we liked the in-store experience.  It only took 5-10 minutes, but he was really friendly throughout. Then, the magic!! Heidi was allowed to get some free sweets from the shop! She was over the moon with excitement and it really topped off our Friday evening. 

Car at M&M's World
There’s even cars at M&S’s World!

Then, Heidi got talking to some more members of staff, who again were oh so friendly. Heidi was telling them about the questionnaire that we had done and our plans in London for the weekend. Heidi then sweet-talked them (excuse the pun!) into giving her some more chocolate! It just shows how nice the staff are!

Santa in M&M's form!
Santa in M&M’s form!

Where is M&M’s World?

M&M’s World is in the heart of Leicester Square and so it is central to a lot of things in London. You can easily spend an hour here, even without buying anything!! However, if you time it right, there is a musical display directly outside the store (look up!) which is lovely to watch and hear.

Musical display outside M&M's World
Musical display outside M&M’s World
Continue reading M&M’s World – London

Belowzero Ice Bar

It might seem strange to do a blog post on a family blog about a bar, but Belowzero Ice Bar is a bit different. We went in February 2019, and as we loved it so much, I had to write about it.

Belowzero Ice bar splash image

What is Belowzero Ice Bar?

In its simpliest form, Belowzero Ice Bar is just a bar. It serves drinks and music is played. However, as the name suggests, the temperature is around -5oC and so it is a really “cool” experience (ok, I’ll stop with the puns!). You are given Eskimo coats to wear to keep you warm, and special gloves to wear. It doesn’t  feel too cold to be honest, and quite refreshing if it is a warm day in London.

Fancy ice sculpture!

The Ice Bar is decorated with ice sculptures with a different theme every few months, so in some respects, every visit will be slightly different. There are ice-free places to sit down (you wouldn’t want a wet bum!) but generally you’ll want to look around all the ice sculptures.

The bar isn’t especially large, which makes it feel intimate, but not busy, especially as too many people will make the ice melt! You are advised to book in advance, which helps manage numbers I imagine.

What does Belowzero Ice Bar serve?

Belowzero Ice Bar serve a range of cocktails and mocktails. I am not much of a drinker, but the mocktails were enjoyed by Heidi and myself! The best thing is that the drinks are served in ice!! As a result, you need your special gloves to be able to hold onto the “glass”!!

I can confirm that it is possible to break an ice glass, as they can be quite slippery!

Belowzero Ice Bar bar
Yes, these are made of ice!

Is Belowzero Ice Bar child friendly?

It is as child friendly as a bar without a beer garden can be! As you are only in for 40 minutes, and people are there for the experience, rather than get drunk, then there is little chance of people misbehaving. Also, there is the usual security, to make sure no-one goes in drunk.

However, there are rules on under 18’s. They only allow under 18’s in up to 18.30 Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. Children 8 and under are free to enter.

Having a Belowzero Ice bar mocktail
Having a mocktail!

I never felt that it was not safe or not appropriate for Heidi to be there.

How much does Belowzero Ice Bar cost?

There are various ticket packages, but the tickets come with a drink included. There is a family ticket, which covers 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children. We found this to be cheaper than buying the drink for Heidi separately.  However, your circumstances may mean it is cheaper to buy any under 8’s a drink separately.

Topical too…!!

Whereabouts is Belowzero Ice Bar?

Belowzero Ice Bar is located between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, quite close to Hamleys. It is hidden away in the Heddon Street Food Quarter, just off Regent Street. As such, give yourself a bit of time to find it, especially as you don’t want to be late!!

Yes, it is in London!

Overall

Heidi absolutely loved Belowzero Ice Bar, and it was something completely different. Yes, it is expensive and as such, it is a bit of a one-off. However, if your child is mature enough, it is a wonderful experience to have.

Continue reading Belowzero Ice Bar

The Sun: Living with our Star – Science Museum

“The Sun: Living with our Star” is the Science Museum’s latest “paid for” exhibit, running from 6th October 2018 to 6th May 2019. We were invited along to check out the exhibit, for the purposes of the blog post.

The Sun: Living with our Star lead image

What is “The Sun: Living with our Star” Exhibit?

“The Sun: Living with our Star” takes visitors on a journey through time with human’s relationship with the Sun.  Starting from 3,000 year old artefacts all the way through to modern day science and its effect on civilisation, you realise how important the Sun is to us, as well as how much we still don’t know about it.

The exhibit, in true Science Museum style, also focused on how the sun can create power. There was an excellent little game to get children to think about reflecting light to create power.

Also, it looks at future problems caused by the sun, namely solar storms, and there was an excellent quiz for everyone to learn about what we would need in the case of a solar storm.

Solar Storm quiz
Doing the Solar Storm quiz

For me, the best part was seeing a hi-resolution video of the sun, and marvelling about how much activity occurs. Seeing it relatively close up meant that you see things that you never see before. 

image of sun
High-Res image of the Sun

Is “The Sun: Living with our Star” child appropriate?

Yes! There is nothing scary about the exhibit and so nervous children will be fine!  There are enough exhibits that the little ones can touch and play with for them to be engaged throughout.

Perhaps the part that the children liked the most was the mock beach, as it also doubled up as a little playground as well!

Beach
Beach time!!

In terms of learning, the children found learning about sundials to be particularly interesting. I think that it was because it was quite visual, as well as the fact that they don’t see sundials very often.

sun dials
Learning about sundials

How much does “The Sun: Living with our Star” cost?

The best part about this exhibit is that children under 16 are free! The pricing structure is:

Adults                                 £13.50

Concessions                       £11.70

Seniors                                 £12.60

Children (under 16)         Free

What else is there to do at the Science Museum?

There is the fabulous Wonderlab on the top floor. You can read about Wonderlab in this blogpost.  Also, the Science Museum has a whole host of free galleries to view as well and you can quite easily spend all day at the Science Museum.

Top Tip!

If you’re looking for a good photo opportunity, there is a section towards the middle depicting the Sun’s ray. The provides excellent lighting for photos, especially with the cut out holes at the back!

Photo spot
I love this photo!!

Disclosure

Whilst we received free entry into “The Sun: Living with our Star”, this did not influence any opinion of the blog post.

Continue reading The Sun: Living with our Star – Science Museum

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels – Preview

Across the UK, Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels is appearing in theatres and concert halls for special orchestral performances which are sure to entertain the whole family.

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels – Preview

What will happen at Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels?

The interactive experience features specially created animations as well as a live orchestral accompaniment, from the Picture House Orchestra. This is then followed by a screening of “The Wrong Trousers”, with the soundtrack performed by the orchestra.

Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels playing music
(c) and TM Aardman/W&G Ltd. All rights reserved.

How Long does Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels last?

The first half is an energetic, interactive dialogue between Wallace, Gromit and the live orchestra. This last for about 35 minutes. The second part is a screening of The Wrong Trousers, with live orchestra, which lasts for 30 minutes. There is a 20 minute interval, so overall, it lasts 85 minutes-ish.

Is Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels wriggle-proof?

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels is aimed for children aged 3+, so you know that it’s going to be a bright, breezy and lively performance!

Is there a preview for Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels?

Check out this video below:

Where can we watch Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels?

There are numerous dates up and down the country, and they are listed below:

Beaconsfield – NFTS – Premiere event

15/05/2019 7:30pm

Buxton – Opera House

16/05/2019 1:30pm (schools only)

16/05/2019 6:30pm

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

17/05/2019 1:30pm

17/05/2019 6:30pm

18/05/2019 2:00pm

18/05/2019 6:00pm

Sheffield City Hall

19/05/2019 1:00pm

19/05/2019 4:00pm

Stoke Victoria Hall

20/05/2019 1:30pm (schools only)

20/05/2019 7:00pm

Leicester De Montfort Hall

23/05/2019 1:30pm

23/05/2019 6:30pm

Liverpool Arena Auditorium

25/05/2019 4:00pm

25/05/2019 7:00pm

Manchester Lowry

26/05/2019 1:00pm

26/05/2019 4:00pm

London Barbican Hall

27/05/2019 1:00pm

27/05/2019 4:00pm

Birmingham Symphony Hall

29/05/2019 2:00pm

29/05/2019 6:30pm

Bath The Forum

31/05/2019 2:00pm

31/05/2019 6:30pm

Cardiff St. David’s Hall

01/06/2019 1:30pm

01/06/2019 6:00pm

Reading The Hexagon

02/06/2019 1:00pm

02/06/2019 4:00pm

Gateshead Sage

06/06/2019 1:30pm

06/06/2019 6:30pm

Carlisle Sands Centre

07/06/2019 1:30pm

07/06/2019 6:30pm

Edinburgh Usher Hall

08/06/2019 2:00pm

08/06/2019 6:00pm

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

09/06/2019 2:00pm

09/06/2019 6:00pm

How can we get tickets to Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels?

You can follow the links by clicking on the venue above, but also, keep your eyes peeled for a competition giveaway in the next few weeks!

How do we know if Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels is worth seeing?

We have been given tickets to the Sheffield showing for the purposes of a review.  So check out the page and social media accounts around that time and see what we thought!

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Continue reading Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels – Preview

Shrek’s Adventure

We have been to Shrek’s Adventure a couple of times now and given that the new “How to Train Your Dragon” exhibit is now open, I thought that I would write about it.

Shrek's Adventure - lead image

What is Shrek’s Adventure?!

I am not sure that there is anything similar to Shrek’s Adventure in Central London! Shrek’s Adventure is a walking tour through the story of Shrek, where you spend 5 minutes or so in each scene before carrying on the story. Each scene is led by a character in the story and generally something magical happens in each one, be it a witch appearing from nowhere or a toilet exploding!

Shrek's Adventure - mirror maze
Mirror Maze © Mikael Buck / Shrek’s Adventure London

After the introduction from Fiona (from Shrek) you go into a stationary bus and have an immersive 4D ride where you take in the sights of the world before crashing on top of a witch or two! It is very immersive and as such, it can be overwhelming for younger children. However, it is really good to watch and so if your little one can be brave, then they will love it.

The After-Show

After you have completed the show, there is a nice little break-out area, where the children can wind down. There are a few photo opportunities with still characters from the show and allow them to be kids again!

Shrek's Adventure How to Train Your Dragon exhibit
The new “How to Train Your Dragon” exhibit

When we went in February 2019, they had just opened a new exhibit from “How to Train Your Dragon” which will be popular with the younger children especially.

Favourite Parts

For me, my favourite memory is when Cinderella tried to get me to go out with her!! No, I’m not kidding! However, Heidi got really upset that someone was going to take me away from her, she got really upset! It was very cute indeed!!

Shrek's Adventure - image of Cinderella
Cinderella at Shrek’s Adventure London. © Mikael Buck / Shrek’s Adventure

My other favourite part is the Sleeping Beauty section, which provided hours of entertainment in the days/weeks to follow. However, I won’t give the secret away.

No Photos!!

You may have seen that that photos on here are professional and don’t contain Heidi or myself. That is because you’re gently told at the beginning that you aren’t allowed to take photos. Whilst that’s bad for blogging, it does mean that the experience is authentic and flows better.

There are a couple of photo opportunities at the start which you can buy, as well as one at the end with Shrek himself, which is free. However, the memories from Shrek’s Adventure will just have to be that – memories.

Shrek's Adventure image with Shrek
Meeting Shrek himself afterward

Age Appropriate?

This is a difficult one to answer as it depends on your child. There are scary parts, which means that more nervous children will find it a challenge. But then there are some really funny parts, which all children will like.

Heidi was aged 4 when we went and she loved most of it except the Pinocchio and jail scenes. As such, you might want to give extra big cuddles during those parts.

Shrek's Adventure - real muffin man
The real muffin man © Mikael Buck / Shrek’s Adventure London

As it is a walking show, there is naturally walking. However, it is all flat, inside and generally walking 20 yards or so before stopping for the next section. There aren’t many opportunities to sit down, therefore a 3 year old might struggle towards the end.

Shrek's Adventure - image of teddy muffin man
You can get a teddy version at the shop afterwards!

Grab a bargain!

As with most Merlin Attractions, there is often a deal to be had. If you want to do the Sealife Centre and, say, the London Eye (which are pretty much next-door) then there is a decent saving in buying your tickets together.  Also, there for often 2-for-1 offers run by travel companies and various household consumer brands.

The Verdict

Shrek’s Adventure is one of the things in London that you have to do at least once. As it is located on the South Bank opposite Westminster, its location is ideal and as it is indoor, can be a suitable “wet weather” activity. We have done it twice now and loved it each time and I’m sure that we will do it again in the future.

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Wonderlab – Science Museum

For Heidi and I, 2018 was the year we loved London and loved Science. As such, one of our favourite places to go was Wonderlab at the Science Museum. Located a 5-10 minute walk from South Kensington Underground, it is the ideal place for inquisitive minds.

Wonderlab

What is Wonderlab?

Wonderlab is located on the top floor of the Science Museum and is home to the more interactive exhibits. Wonderlab is a paid attraction (see later) but it is well worth the expense as the attraction is really interactive for children.

There are loads of hands-on experiments that the children can get involved in, from magnetism, to colour blending, to heat cameras. In the open plan floor, pretty much everything is available to touch, play with and learn with.

Wonderlab
Heat camera

There are a couple of areas where there are demonstrations. One is the electric exhibition, where you can see lightning being created – clearly a bit dangerous, hence the led demonstration!! The other is the mini lecture theatre, where there are shows every 40 minutes or so. These aren’t especially interactive, pretty much because they involve setting fire to things, making rockets and that kind of thing. Whilst not interactive, they are fun to watch and really educational.

Wonderlab
Taking part in the electricity demonstration

Top Tip – If your child is a little nervous, sit on the seats on the right as you go in. Here, you can make a quick getaway if it becomes too much!

What is the ideal age range?

Whilst there is a lot to see, do and play with, there is also a lot that can be learnt. As such, I feel as though pre-school children wouldn’t really get much out of it. However, they will get the visual impact of the experiments, which is an excellent starting point. However, under 3’s are free so that is a bonus!!

School aged children with an inquisitive mind are absolutely perfect for Wonderlab. They will ask questions that they have never thought about before and will think about things a different way. Just be prepared to do a lot of explaining!!

Wonderlab
Blending colours

How long does it take?

It all depends on how engaged your child is. Heidi has been in for 5 hours before and I have had to drag her away as we had a train to catch. However, if you’re short on time, you could spend an hour and a half and see/do most things. However, you wouldn’t have time to see any of the demonstrations.

Wonderlab
Understanding gravitational fields

When is the best time to go?

The Wonderlab does get busy at weekends and school holidays. However, it has never been absolutely packed, even in the middle of summer. Clearly, the best time would be during the week in the school term (such as a teacher training day) but I would not let it put you off whatsoever.

What are the facilities like?

As the Wonderlab is in its own little area at the top floor of the Science Museum, the facilities are limited. The only facilities are the toilets which are hidden away behind the maths puzzles at the back.

However, just outside the Wonderlab is a shop, as well as a Shake Bar. Here you can buy sandwiches, ice creams and milkshakes (obviously!). There is a large area of seating so you should be fine finding a seat. However, the Shake Bar closes early and so if you promise an ice cream, make sure you go sooner rather than later. I am speaking from experience on that one…!!

On the ground floor, there is a cafe and an amazing shop!

Wonderlab
Looking at freezing water

Is it worth the annual pass?

As at January 2019, the prices are:

Day Pass

  • Adults – £10
  • Concessions including children 4-16 year old – £8
  • Senior (aged 60+) – £9
  • Family (3-5 visitors with no more than 2 adults) – £2 off per day pass

Annual Pass

  • Adults – £15
  • Concessions including children 4-16 year old – £13
  • Senior (aged 60+) – £9
  • Family (3-5 visitors with no more than 2 adults) – £3 off per annual pass

As you can see, if you’re going to visit the Wonderlab twice or more in a year, you are best going for the annual pass. In 2018, we visited 4 times from Leeds and so if you love London, (or live nearby) it is well worth it.

Overall

I think it is safe to say that Wonderlab is one of Heidi’s favourite places in London and I joke that she would love to live there! It has increased her knowledge of science so much, and provided so many happy memories. I can’t wait for us to go back in 2019!

Continue reading Wonderlab – Science Museum