There are so many activities going on all day long at Butlins and it's difficult to fit in everything you'd like to do, so I really recommend downloading a What's On Planner from the Butlins website just before you go - my little ones loved highlighting all the activities they'd like to do and it added to the excitement the day before our break.
As well as organised activities, there are plenty of things dotted around the resort, such as the motorbikes outside the Diner and the donkeys just outside the entrance to the Skyline Pavilion, which The Princess and The Pickle loved sitting on each time we walked past!
There are lots (and I mean lots) of arcade games - they are literally everywhere you turn and are great for teens (and Dads!) as long as you have plenty of change. It's very difficult to say no when little ones are constantly seeing claw machines full of toys but Daddy was lucky enough to win one for The Pickle on his first go - after 32 years of trying! If we visit Butlins in the future we'll start a savings jar full of 2p's for the coin machines as The Princess loved those and was just starting to get the hang of it towards the end of the break and won herself a keyring.
One of the activities The Princess and The Pickle really enjoyed was Splash Waterworld. There is an early morning session once a week for hotel guests only, which means it is one of the quietest times to go. We had a very early, light breakfast (except for Daddy, who was determined to take full advantage of the hot buffet!) and arrived at the pool just before opening. Within a few minutes we were let in, along with only a handful of other families.
The changing rooms were clean with plenty of lockers available (remember a £1 coin for the lockers) but by the time we'd finished changing it was getting much busier.
The pool was packed with things to do, including a large four lane slide for families to race down into a splash pool and because it took four people at a time the queues for this went down very quickly. There was also a mini playground for toddlers, which was brightly coloured with water jets and small slides. Unfortunately not allowing adults to go down the small slides with young children poses a problem for many families if their young child is not confident around water, as the child has to walk around and go up the steps by themselves in order for their parent to be able to stay at the bottom of the slide to catch them on the way down.
The main pool had a wave machine as well as underwater jets making bubbles on the surface. At the back of the pool was a section with people riding on rubber rings - we didn't get chance to do this but definitely something to look forward to for next time. As we left we noticed a shop selling towels, swimming costumes, goggles and armbands - all the essentials incase you've forgotten to pack something!
There are clubs for each age group, however The Princess and The Pickle are both at an inbetween stage at the moment - The Pickle at 3 and a half is probably a bit old for the 'toddler' sessions and The Princess was one of the oldest in the 5-8's club. Having said that, they both joined in with the 5-8's 'Get Busy' activities and had a great time. Because of the age range, parents stay and watch (and sometimes join in with) these sessions.
We did the Arts and Crafts session and Fun Fencing. Both were very well led by the redcoats (Jake and Hazel if I remember correctly) and focused on having fun. The Princess (being with lots of younger children) felt a bit unsure in the fencing club but soon got into it when parents were invited to join in! She'll be 9 in a couple more months so if we visit again she'll be able to join Club Red (for 9-12 years) and be with children the same age and hopefully make friends and enjoy herself without parents having to stay. There is also a 'VIP' club for teens. These clubs were all included in our break at no extra cost, however you needed to book a space for some of the activities. The Princess wanted to try Circus Skills but when we tried to book it (at the start of our break on Monday afternoon) it was already full, plus an extra session had been put on but was full too! So it's definitely worth booking activities as soon as possible.
One of the activities with an extra charge was archery, which The Princess desperately wanted to do since trying it on a recent day out with Grandma and Pops. She had highlighted every single archery session on the planner! We booked this on the Monday for an hour's session the following day, which cost £5. This activity was led by qualified instructors, but still focused on fun as well as learning. Split into teams and encouraged to make friends, they played games and scored points, aiming for certain colours on the target and even trying to pop balloons at one point. If you have older children (8 and over) this is a nice family activity the adults can also do.
Another activity we were all able to enjoy as a family was ten pin bowling in Hotshots, the sports themed bar inside the Skyline Pavilion. The charge for one game was £5 per adult and £4 per child, under 4's were free. We chose to do this on the last day, after we'd checked out of the hotel. It was a nice treat for all four of us before leaving the resort. Amazingly, having never played bowling before, The Pickle loved it and managed to beat the rest of us by a fair few points (but to be fair, he was at a bit of an advantage with the ball guider!) Again, this is something to book in advance as the lanes fill up very quickly.
One of the best free activities at Butlins is the fairground - you can go on as many rides as you like, as many times as you like at no cost. There are of course stalls where you can win prizes or buy sweets and traditional fairground goodies like candy floss, but the rides themselves are free. Unfortunately The Pickle is a bit scared of going on most of the rides, but he did love the trampolines (and also the Dune Buggies which are just around the corner from the fairground). The Princess enjoyed the Helter Skelter, however due to the rain we only saw it open a couple of times during our stay. The first day we saw it open the mats were damp from the rain and so everyone was having to hold onto the sides to push themselves down as they were going down really slowly! The Princess pointed out they could put a roof or cover over it so it can still be used in the rain - I think she's got a very good point there!
We found the fairground to be very quiet around 10am when it opens each morning and we had a few goes on rides without having to queue. If I'm honest, some of the fairground staff didn't seem that 'cheery', but that may have been because we got used to the super-friendliness of the Redcoats around the rest of the resort.
There are a number of smaller rides for under 5's inside the Skyline Pavilion - hopefully The Pickle will be brave enough to have a go on these if we visit in future! Here's a little video of some of the fun The Princess and The Pickle had at Butlins...
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We were invited to stay on a 4 night break at Butlins as part of my role as a Butlins Ambassador. All opinions are my own.