Legoland hotel

Ever wanted to stay at the Legoland hotel?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stay at the Legoland Hotel Windsor?   I can tell you – It’s awesome!  We have been Lego fans for years and have always wanted to try out the Legoland Hotel but found it was far too much money, especially as we only live 45 minutes away so don’t really need to stay overnight when we visit the theme park.  Three years ago though we discovered a special event held at the hotel every February half term.  Continue reading

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Alton towers

Santa Sleepover At Alton Towers


Address: Farley Lane, Alton, Stoke-On-Trent, ST10 4DB

Price Band: £££


We have just returned home from absolutely the most magical Christmassy weekend ever!!  From start to finish we have had such a fabulous time that we couldn’t even choose a ‘highlight’ of the weekend because it was all so good!  Be prepared – this blog is a long one full of gorgeous festive photos and Christmas loveliness!

We arrived at the Alton Towers Resort after a long 2.5 hour journey and woke Lois and Cody just in time to drive past the big banners for CBeebies Land.  They hadn’t had a clue where we were going so you can imagine their excitement!  When we parked and walked into the hotel they couldn’t believe their ears when they realised we were also staying the night.  Best surprise ever!  We booked in and found that our room was already available for us (we didn’t expect to be able to check in until the afternoon) so of course we took our key cards and headed straight upstairs to explore. (P.S. how lush is this welcome desk?! Love all the old trunks and suitcases!).


Our Room.

Our bedroom was AMAZING.  We had booked a ‘Moon Voyage’ themed room for the night.  The decor throughout the room has an outer space theme to it but mixed with a time travel feel as well and lots of futuristic inventors features. There is a door which makes it interjoinable (is that even a word?!) with the room next door so if you are going as a group or a large family you can book two rooms that have direct access to each other – fab idea!  We particularly loved the portal in the kids area which lights up and is touch sensitive to your fingertips.  The kids area has bunk beds (with individual reading lights) and a TV with Xbox to play on!  This kept the little monkeys quiet while we were getting changed to go out for dinner.

The ‘grown-ups’ area has a lovely king size bed with bedside tables and lamps, 2 armchairs, coffee table and large TV.  We were also joined by ‘Beartrice’ the bear who lives in the room.


There is a wardrobe area with plenty of hangers and several shelves as well as an iron and ironing board in case you need it.  One of the shelves contains a serving tray with kettle, mugs, tea, coffee, milk and biscuits plus there is a mini fridge in one of the cupboards.  This is the first Merlin hotel we have stayed in with a mini fridge in the room and was perfect for keeping our bottles of water cool (had we known we’d have taken a few ‘adult’ beverages along too 😉 ).  One of the drawers contains a hairdryer. Unfortunately we discovered that ours didn’t work (10 minutes before our dinner reservation with me stood there with soaking wet hair – AARRGHH!!).  A quick phone call to reception though and housekeeping brought us another one up.

The en-suite bathroom is fully ‘themed’ out too.  We particularly loved the picture of Sir Algenon sat on the toilet on the back of the door.  It certainly got a few whispered giggles from the kids when they found it!  There are plenty of towels plus soap, body wash and shampoo provided in the bathroom so no need to take any along.  This is standard in all the Merlin hotels we have visited (Legoland and Chessington).  The shower was very powerful and easy to operate.

CBeebies Land


We went to the car park where there was a shuttle bus service taking guests to the theme park entrance.  On arrival we headed straight to CBeebies Land which of course was very exciting indeed.  We were greeted by the familiar voices of Andy and all the other CBeebies presenters welcoming us to the park.  Cody was desperate to go on Iggle Piggle’s boat ride so that was our first stop.  We queued for about 15 minutes singing along to the theme tune then boarded our boat. It was a lovely gentle ride with running commentary on board as we passed the various characters.  I have to admit – I loved it!  When Lilian was little she was obsessed with In The Night Garden so we know it inside out and I loved our little trip down memory lane.

Our next ride was Postman Pat’s Parcel Post.  The kids both sat in the front and ‘drove’ the van around Greendale, selecting the correct parcel on the driver’s panel to give each character as we passed them.  I liked this added touch as it made the ride interactive rather than just a sit and ride round the track one that you often see.


The Get Set Go Treetop Adventure was a particular favourite of ours. You can sit up to 3 people in a pod that goes round a track which I believe is 4 metres high above Cbeebies Land. We listened to Andy from Cbeebies on the way round talking about the bugs and giving us a tour. Its a lovely gentle ride with fab views over the park and any age can ride.

There were lots of other rides and things to explore in CBeebies Land including the Octonauts rollercoaster, Justin’s House Pie Factory, etc.  We loved the squares dotted along the pavement that had the handprints of various CBeebies stars including Mr Bloom, Nina, Mr Tumble, etc done in a Hollywood star style.  Fab idea.

Although most of the theme park was closed for the winter there were a few things in Mutiny Bay and Cloud Cuckoo Land which were open including several rides, the sea life centre and the Ice Age 4D cinema (which was fab!).  I would definitely like to go back in the summer months to explore the rest of the park as well.


After a fun few hours in the theme park we headed back to the hotel and went to see the pantomime of Aladdin.  It had some lovely sets, fab costumes and the actors did really well.  There were loads of bean bags at the front for kids to sit on which I thought was a great idea.  The show was full of good humour and lots of songs. We really enjoyed it.


Santa’s Grotto

After the pantomime we hopped back on the shuttle bus to the theme park and went to visit Santa in his grotto.  We had booked a specific time slot however, due to the panto over-running, we arrived late and in a bit of a panic.  It wasn’t a problem though and our guide elf Crackers introduced himself and led us through the enchanted wood to Santa’s log cabin.  I am so glad we opted for a time slot when it was dark as the pathways and log cabin looked beautiful all lit up and it created such a magical atmosphere.  Inside the cabin itself the decor was beautiful with a gorgeous tree in one corner, writing desk , armchair and cosy furnishings.  Santa was lovely and talked to the kids about what they would like for Xmas and asked them to leave him a mince pie out on Xmas Eve (just don’t tell Mrs Claus!).  They then chose a gift each from his box to take home.

The Evening

Our sleepover package included a 3 course Christmas carvery meal in the Secret Garden Restaurant at the hotel.  Now I have to admit this is where the standard of things slipped slightly and we felt a little disappointed, although not enough to be a big issue.  You are supposed to order your starters and drinks on arrival from a waiter, then help yourself to the buffet style carvery, then order your desserts from a waiter. After waiting quite some time though it became apparent that we weren’t going to be served as it was just so busy and we were so hungry we decided just to go straight for the carvery.  The food was lovely, really good quality meat sliced from the joint in front of you (turkey, beef or honey glazed ham) plus lots of different vegetables to choose from.  The kids buffet options included roast chicken, sausages, mash potato, chips, peas, beans, macaroni cheese, etc so plenty to keep everyone happy.  You could eat as much as you liked and it was all delicious.  After 3 attempts we managed to order some drinks and then our desserts which were also lovely.  I was so hungry and busy stuffing my face I forgot to take any food pics apart from my dessert (rubbish blogger – sorry!).

The entertainment after our meal was a group of 3 singers and a guitarist called ‘The Fabulous Scott Family’ who sang all the best Christmas songs such as ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland’ and they were absolutely brilliant.  The atmosphere in the place was so festive and lovely it really gave you that warm fuzzy feeling inside (you know what I mean?!).  If you head over to my facebook page ( I will post a video on there so you can see for yourselves. Don’t forget to like my page while you’re there!

Day 2

After a very comfortable nights sleep in our lovely hotel bed we awoke to find letters under the door from Santa.  The kids had written him a letter each the day before and posted it in the special letter box in reception.  It was very exciting to read their replies and I thought it was a lovely little extra touch which we weren’t expecting.

We filled ourselves up at the buffet style breakfast which had everything from cereals and fruit to continental and full english.  You just helped yourself to whatever you wanted. We then did a little souvenir shopping in the hotel shop and explored.  The hotel was so beautiful with all the Christmas decorations up and all the staff were incredibly friendly.  It definitely got a 10/10 from us.

We headed over to the adventure golf course and played a fun 18 holes.  Of course Cody didn’t really understand how to play so we mostly let him do his own thing but somehow by sheer fluke he scored a hole in one on the very first hole!! I wish I’d got it on video as his celebration was hilarious.  We were all gobsmacked!  The holes were each themed around a ride in the theme park and each start board had a map of the hole and information about the ride it was representing. It was so cleverly done!  We had a fab time and I would highly recommend paying a little extra to do this.

Finally we headed over to the Splash Landings Waterpark and donned our swimsuits.   Now I kid you not, this place is every child’s dream!  It literally is awesome!  The waterpark is a huge indoor resort with loads of different pools, flumes, lazy river, water jungle gym, etc.  You can easily spend all day in here and not get bored.  There are even pools outside with flumes for all ages to ride.  We particularly loved the ‘Bubbly wubbly’ pool ouside which was almost a jacuzzi style pool.  It was so surreal being outside on a freezing cold day in November just in our swimsuits.  I did feel a bit sorry for the lifeguard though who was just a little cold!  There are loads and loads of seats and tables around the pool and a cafe serving drinks and food.  So if you feel a little peckish, no need to get dressed, just sit and eat on poolside! Love it!  Sadly I was a rubbish blogger again at this point as I was too busy having fun to take photos apart from this one taken through a window on the way out.  This pic shows only half of it!


All in all we had the most amazing time at the Alton Towers resort and I would very highly recommend doing the Santa Sleepover weekend if you can.  It was definitely great value for money and we would do it again in a heartbeat.  We’ve done the Chessington and Legoland hotels before but this one definitely tops the leader board.

Thank you Alton Towers for an amazing experience – I promise you we will be back!

Disclaimer: Alton Towers and Merlin have had no involvement in this review and all words, opinions and photos are that of my own 🙂

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Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park

Address: Lodmoor Country Park, Preston Beach Road, Weymouth, DT4 7SX

Price Band: £££ (can use Tesco clubcard vouchers/Merlin pass)


In the Easter holidays we spent a few days down in Weymouth to celebrate my birthday and so of course we had to visit Weymouth’s top attraction, Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park.  This place is home to thousands of sea creatures from turtles to jellyfish, penguins to crocodiles, it literally has everything you can imagine and more that you have never even heard of!


The park is set out into different zones. These include shipwreck, penguins, ray lagoon, turtle sanctuary and ocean tunnel, to name a few.  Follow the pathway around the site to make sure you don’t miss anything as there is lots to see and it is well spread out throughout the grounds (although fairly compact so not too much walking).  The children all get a trail book each to complete on their way round and there are often activities to take part in as well.  The zones with aquariums in are undercover but the rest of it is outdoors so we found it is best to visit on a dry day to really make the most of it. There is a play park and splash pool as well as a sensory garden to enjoy if you need a break to let off steam.  There are lots of benches and picnic tables around as well.

The aquariums are all fantastic. They are built in a way that everyone can see and feel close to the sea creatures without intruding and the variety of things to see is incredible.  Having the zones set out so they have different species in each one keeps it interesting and not quite so overwhelming.  We particularly liked the sea horses and jellyfish.

The ray lagoon is fantastic.  They are such graceful creatures and fascinating to watch.  There were some we had never seen before and their aquarium was beautiful.  As with all the zones there are lots of information boards around telling you about the different creatures in each habitat.  The one pictured below is called a Cownose Ray!


Of course no sea life centre is complete without an ocean tunnel.  The famous walk-through experience where you are in a glass tunnel with sea creatures swimming over your head.  The one at Weymouth is fab and has so much to see, although Cody wasn’t so sure and found it very scary having huge sharks swimming overhead!

After lots of time spent looking at the various aquariums we decided to head outside into the sunshine for a while and try out some of the rides in the Adventure Island zone.  These included a tug boat, seal ride, bouncer and the crocodile creek (mini log flume).  Rides were all included in the admission fee so the kids could ride as many times as they like.  The crocodile creek log flume was particularly good as it goes through a tunnel where real caiman crocodiles are in a glass enclosure for you to see.  Very cool!

Our final stop was to see the seals.  You can view them from above water level or below water level.  They come so close to the glass as they swim past, it was very exciting!  At certain times during the day you can see the seals being fed and listen to their keeper tell you all about them.  This happens in lots of other areas of the park too with various other species so its worth checking those out.

All in all we had a fab time at the Sea Life Park and you can easily spend an entire day there, especially if the weather is fine.  On the downside it is quite expensive for a family to visit as everyone aged 3 years and over pays the same price.  If you can plan your trip in advance it is best to book online to get a discounted rate or better still use your tesco clubcard vouchers to get in free (like we did!).  If you are Merlin pass members you can also get in free.  They have crazy golf on site at an additional charge if you want to have a round.  If you travel by car it is a pay and display car park which again isn’t cheap so make sure you factor that into your budget.  Your ticket does include a ride on the Jurassic Coastline tower further down the beach which we really enjoyed.  I will do a separate review on that one but it is well worth it if you have the time to go.

On the plus side you can take your own picnic with you and there are plenty of picnic tables around or there is a large cafe alongside the gift shop if you want to purchase food.  The Sea Life Park is next to a country park so you could visit that as well while you are there if you want to.  The park is fully wheelchair and buggy friendly so you can easily access all areas and it is suitable for all ages (children aged 0-2 years get in free).  There are changing facilities in the disabled toilets too and buggy park areas around the park.  Don’t forget when your children have completed their trail cards take them to the gift shop on your way out to get your free pop badge!

Disclaimer:  Weymouth Sea Life Park and Merlin have had no involvement in this review and all photos, words and opinions are that of my own 🙂

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Chessington Santa Sleepover

Address: Leatherhead Road, Chessington, KT9 2NE

Price Band: £££


Last Christmas we decided we wanted to make the most of the festive spirit and so having done some research we decided to book a Santa Sleepover weekend at Chessington World Of Adventure.  The price included 2 day access to the on-site sea life centre, zoo and a few selected rides (the main theme park area was shut for the winter).  It also included overnight accommodation in a themed bedroom, surprise gift in the room for each child, evening entertainment, access to the themed hotel swimming pool, breakfast in the Temple Restaurant with a visit from Santa’s elves and of course a visit to see the big man himself –  Santa Claus.

The planning started back in August when I first booked the date and then had to keep it secret from the kids all the way up until the day!  I had the suitcase packed and hidden in the boot of the car before they finished school the day before so they literally had no idea we were going anywhere. On the morning we woke up I told them we were going out for the day for a treat.  We arrived at Chessington very excited and spent a lovely day on the rides and enjoying the zoo and sea life centre.

The sea life centre has a fantastic selection of creatures to marvel at and is very well set out with a supervised area for handling as well.  The staff were very clued up on the animals they cared for and answered lots of questions from inquisitive kids in a way that they could understand.

The animal areas included a petting zoo with everything from pigs to rabbits, all of which were able to wander around freely among the visitors.  There is also a wildcat walk, minibeasts cave, gorillas, sealions, penguins, etc.  The rides and attractions that were open during our stay were Hocus Pocus Hall, the Carousel, Seastorm, plus a couple of others.  There were never really any queues as there was so much to do everyone was well spread out and so it never felt busy.

After a hectic day we told the kids it was time to go home and headed back through the hotel to leave. In the movie area there was a film playing which caught the kids attention so I was able to slip away unnoticed to pick up our key from reception and get our bags from the car.  When they turned round to see me standing there holding our bags and a key they screamed in excitement!  Definitely a moment well worth the wait and one I really wish I’d got on film.  It certainly brought a lot of smiles to fellow visitors who overheard the commotion!lol

The fully-themed Azteca Hotel at Chessington is completely out of this world.  It really is incredible the way they have decorated it. From temple ruins in the foyer with jungle sound effects, to monkeys on the walls in the lifts and forest maps on the floors of the corridors, they really have thought of everything.  The bedroom itself was beautiful.  There are 3 different styles available and for this stay we opted for the Temple Treasure room.  It is designed to feel like you are staying within a temple ruin in the middle of the rainforest yet is so comfortable and luxurious feeling.  The main room area has a king size bed with dressing table, TV and armchair overlooking the Wanyama reserve (believe me there is nothing better than looking out the window to see giraffe and zebra grazing outside!).         A mini corridor with built in shelving, clothes hanging rails and a kettle (with all manner of hot drinks and biscuits to help yourself to) leads to a lovely en-suit bathroom with bath and built in electric shower.  Complimentary towels, hand soap and shower wash are provided.  The children’s room has bunk beds with a trundle bed underneath meaning it can sleep up to 3 children.  They get their own TV with kids channels which is great for a little rest time before heading down to dinner. The rooms all have air conditioning so you can set the temperature to whatever you like and there are extra pillows if you want them.  The beds were incredibly comfortable and we loved the fact that there was a puzzle for the kids to solve which revealed the room safe code and a hidden prize!

For our evening meal I had booked us a table at the Temple Restaurant. For those of you who have been to the Rainforest Cafe this place is very similar.  It is such an amazing experience to eat in this place and there is so much going on.  As you walk in there is a huge floor to ceiling tank of real life piranha fish to greet you along with a member of staff who will show you to your table and take your drink order. The TV screens around the restaurant change every few minutes to show different rainforest wildlife in the trees and the place is filled with rainforest sound effects. There is a large temple ruin in the middle of the restaurant with water fountains and lights which is beautiful. Around the edge of the restaurant, set into the wall are long glass tanks which lead to bigger tanks dotted around the restaurant. Inside are thousands and thousands of ants carrying food back and forth which are absolutely fascinating to watch. At regular intervals there is a ‘storm’ in the restaurant and the lights go down and flash dramatically as thunder and lightening takes over then clears away to the calm rainforest sound effects again.  It is so exciting!  Food wise the restaurant caters for everyone.  It is a buffet style eat all you like place so you literally go up to the counters and help yourself to whatever you like.  From carvery to curry to spaghetti meatballs, chips, etc there is something for everyone.  This is followed by another huge selection of desserts to help yourself to.  In my opinion it is well worth the money not just for the food but for the atmosphere and entertainment of the place. We loved it!

After dinner there was evening entertainment provided in the conference suite of the adjoining Safari Hotel.  This included Xmas themed games, carol singing and kiddies disco with a bar open and free popcorn on the tables. Again the room was beautifully themed like a snow covered forest and in the entrance was a gorgeous ice throne surrounded by snow covered fir trees, ideal for photo opportunities.


The following morning we went back to the Temple Restaurant for the buffet style breakfast.  It literally had everything you could want from cooked breakfast to cereals to yoghurts, fruit, muffins, pastries, etc.  I love places like this as it makes it so much easier to feed everyone, although thankfully I am lucky enough that our 3 aren’t too fussy with their food.  We were joined at breakfast by 3 of Santa’s elves who took the time to go round and speak to every child in the restaurant personally and have photos taken. They were very authentic, didn’t rush at all and got to know all the kids, asking lots of questions about their visit and what they would like for Christmas.  Later on when we went to visit Santa’s Grotto the same elves recognised our kids and even remembered their names which left us feeling very impressed!


When our time came to head to see Santa it was everything we could have hoped for.  We were met at the entrance to the woods by his elves who took us through the trees to his log cabin. Santa knew each child’s name, asked them questions and posed for photos, before handing each child a gift. When we left his cabin we were led by another elf to the candy cane trees where the kids were able to chose a candy cane to keep, then we met the real life reindeer which were beautiful.  The children received a craft set or puzzle each, all of which were lovely gifts and they were over the moon.

All in all if you are considering a trip to Chessington for a Santa sleepover weekend I would highly recommend it for any age child.  There was so much to do we never had time to get bored and for the amount included we felt the price for 5 of us was very good.  Of course the nearer Xmas you leave it, the higher the price goes up. I would recommend checking the website from as early as Easter to book as that’s when the prices are lowest (lets face it – nobody is thinking about Xmas at Easter!). Don’t forget to take your swimming gear as well as the pool in the hotel is fab and well worth a visit (its free of charge too!).  You can hire pool towels so don’t need to take your own.  What are you waiting for? Get booking!

Disclaimer: Merlin/Chessington have no involvement in this review and any photos, words and opinions are that of my own. 🙂

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