Friday, 6 April 2018

Coral Island Blackpool Family Attraction And Restaurant Review

We might love books and theatre and kitchen science, but we also love a good traditional day off. Last Tuesday we had an awesome stress-free fun day off in Blackpool courtesy of Coral Island. Right by the pier, the tower and the best parking spots behind SeaLife, Coral Island is Blackpool's largest indoor free-admission family-friendly attraction.


I had no idea just how much Coral Island had to offer until this week, but the claw prize machines are just the start. They have a huge selection of arcade machines from brand new through to those which bring back memories from my SEGA days, 3 rides and 4 restaurants with freshly cooked food and staff who really care about their guests. We spent almost 6 hours there - by sheer fluke getting back to the van 3 minutes before the parking ran out!


Blackpool is notorious for it's changeable seafront weather, so indoor options are always welcome. Entry is free and don't forget to take a photo in the Incredibles frame in the entrance - you can win a prize!


There were 5 of us and we took a budget of £20 each for the whole day including 2 meals - and we arrived early to take pictures while it was empty. There's loads of space and most of Coral Island is accessible to people with limited mobility, including those who use wheelchairs.


There is an over 18's adult gambling machine area which is well denoted and fenced off out of the way. Obviously we didn't go in there, and nor would we be able to send the boys on a train ride as they are both too tall now!


We headed to Peggy's Snack Bar for breakfast. One child eats for free with each paying adult at every Coral Island restaurant, all day long. The big breakfast costs £6.75 for 11 items and a mug of coffee is a mere £1.40. The staff were so helpful, they told us the best way to get best value for exactly what we wanted and it was a really friendly Blackpool welcome.


We wanted to try everything, so went early onto the rides, and first was the Pirates Quest Ghost Train. At only £2 for a single rider and £3 for 2, it cost us £8 for all of us - cheaper than the fair. There were some genuine jump scares, but we all came out grinning.


For the same price there is a monorail ride, The Pirate Flier, which travels around the inside of the building and also has a hidden 'undersea' themed tunnel. No spoilers - it was actually as scary to me as the Ghost Train because it leans on corners, but my 8 year old didn't notice, he held onto his musket and 'pew pew' shot everyone all the way around with regular cries of 'avast me hearties'.


My boys all spent ages playing on the arcade machines - they were in heaven. There are all kinds of games and they all cost between 30p and £2 each. Most we played were 50p or £1 a turn. Kung Fu Panda, Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero for a bit of activity, Daytona and The Fast And The Furious for driving, Sonic and OutRun for nostalgia. We even left a few high scores...well, my partner did anyway...



We had a choice for lunch. We've eaten at the Traditional Chippy a few times, and we were tempted by the diner style of Captain Jack's Bar And Grill with it's menu full of steak, chicken and ribs, but we decided to go into the biggest restaurant at Coral Island for a late lunch - The Buccaneer.


The Buccaneer is a typical UK pub style and was really cosy. The staff are dressed as pirates, but all wore their own version of a pirate outfit and seemed really comfortable. They look great.


My partner spotted a prime table in the middle and the chair of his dreams - Captain for an hour! The decor is brilliant - there is even treasure in the floor. The details made it really special and it made us all grin.


The food was excellent. I can't fault it. The menu is 'seaside pub grub' and it was served hot and well cooked, with loads of really fresh salad and a choice of dressings. Not greasy at all and with plenty of choice for the vegetarians too. Genuine good food at a very fair price - and not what you might expect to find if you viewed Coral Island as simply an 'amusement arcade'.


The children's menu had several choices my boys were happy with and of course, you have a free child's meal (under age 10) with every paying adult, so we didn't have to pay for either of my young boys meals - although we ordered Calamari as an extra - it was a hit.


The Buccaneer also had huge sharing desserts which looked awesome, but we were all full up. Next time I'm just having pudding for lunch...


We went back into the main arcade and everyone had a turn on their last few games, and then we posted the last of our coins into the 2p machines. I won't lie, I adore 2p machines. This was my dream job. I spent a grand total of £6 on them throughout the day and I loved every minute (hour?).



Prize tickets are won on various machines around Coral Island and no-one goes home empty handed.  My youngest had 6p left and managed to win an extra 17 tickets after we'd already counted up, but he still took home a small bag of sweets.


You can of course choose to save up all of your prize tickets for something exotic like an Amazon Echo, but we were more than happy with umpteen sticks of Blackpool Coral Island rock, a frizbee and a Buddha. When we added them to my collection of 2p machine prizes, it was enough pirate treasure to make 2 young boys very happy indeed...


Special mention for the staff at Coral Island - who did not know that we were there to review. The whole attraction is noisy and fairly busy, yet it felt incredibly safe. Our youngest child was happy to go and ask for help when a prize was stuck, and the staff took him seriously and helped him without a moment's hesitation. It seemed that whenever you wanted advice or help, a staff member was right there, but you never felt 'watched'. The employees all seem to care about Coral Island's customers and everyone was incredibly friendly and approachable.


Our day at Coral Island was as guests and our expenses were paid, but we actually had about £15 of our £100 budget left at the end of the day. Under £18 each for 6 hours pure fun, including 2 excellent quality meals, I think is an great day out. We didn't have to say 'no' to anything, and we were actually a bit more frivolous than we would have usually been, yet that is the budget I'd allow for a day trip or day out on holiday. It cost substantially less than a theme park, and what you'd expect for a single attraction with something less substantial to eat.


Coral Island is open year round. Opening times vary, so check before you leave. It opened at 9.30am on the day of our visit and shuts late. Children are welcome in The Buccaneer whenever it is open. You can find out more on the Coral Island website and find out about special events, discounts and offers by following them on Twitter or Facebook

Coral Island is incredibly easy to find - between Madame Tussauds and Sealife Blackpool by the Central Pier - and opposite the beach, which was our final stop before we left...because you can't visit Blackpool without getting your toes wet...



We were guests of Coral Island and all of our expenses and fees were paid, but please have no doubt I will always be honest in my reviews. We all had a genuinely excellent day and clearly we will be back - we want to see the Pirate at The Buccaneer in his purple feathered hat!  

4 comments:

  1. Great to see you guys having fun! I grew up visiting Blackpool at least twice a year. I adore Coral Island and took great delight in taking my Welsh husband there for the first time last year. My girls and I love the 2p machines too ��

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    1. Awwww thanks Lisa. It really was such a fun day - such a break :)

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  2. This looks like such a fun day out! We love Blackpool and always pop into Coral Island for half an hour on the 2p but would t have thought about a whole day there! Will certainly consider it now!

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  3. Love this review Jenny, I’ve been many times and had no idea it had more than just machines! Thanks for the obvious honesty, we’ll def be visiting as my mum only lives in Lytham.

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