Last week my family and I were invited to Coral Island Blackpool for the day. Having grown up in Blackpool before leaving at the age of 18 my husband and I are always keen to share our memories of our childhood and home town with the boys and so we relished the idea of a day playing in the arcades on the sea front with them.
In my minds eye Coral Island was the biggest arcade on the sea front, near the tower and identifiable by the giant parrot that sits out side, as symbolic to me as the tower itself. I had vague memories of slot machines, teddy grabbers and sit on rides as well as a cafe that I don’t recall ever using.
However our recent trip made me realise that either Coral Island Blackpool has changed some what since I left Blackpool 15 years ago or my memories weren’t as accurate as I thought they were. During our visit I quickly realised that Coral Island Blackpool is far more than just another Blackpool arcade and as the biggest free indoor attraction in Blackpool it is definitely one not to be missed if you are visiting any time soon, here’s why
1.You play for money and tickets
Just as you would expect in an arcade there are many 2p and 10p slot games where you can win cash and small prizes such as sweets and key rings. However lots of these machines as well as the non cash winning game oriented machines also shoot out varying amounts of tickets and you’ve guessed it tickets mean prizes so at the end of your visit you can count them all up with the help of a machine and then exchange them for small gifts and sweet treats. This appealed more to our eldest who wanted to keep beating his own score on games such as the basket ball shooting game, to win as many tickets as he could.
2. Camel derby
This was without a doubt the highlight of our trip and one I would suggest you play as a family if you visit Coral Island. Non of us had played this before and we weren’t too sure what to expect but basically what you do is repeatedly roll/throw balls up your aisle trying to get them to fall in the holes. Each hole is worth a different amount of points and the more points you score the further your camel moves, until one of you eventually crosses the finish line and wins a prize. We had three goes on the camel derby and each game became more and more frantic and funny. Luckily we managed to win a few rounds and both boys walked away with a prize. As you can see below we are now the proud owners of a poo emoji teddy – thanks Coral Island!
When you think of an arcade you think of slot machines and 2p machines and of course Coral Island has loads of these but where it differs from any arcade I have visited before is that is also has two rides. Not the pay £1 and sit in a car or on a bike type rides, although t does have them too, but the type where you sit in a carriage and move around a circuit on a track. The first ride is the Pirate Flyer where you can sit 4 to a cart and travel out over the top of the arcade looking down with a birds eye view of the whole arcade and all the people busy trying to win tickets and enjoying themselves. The two people in the front are also given toy guns which you can use to shoot the many pirates and sea creatures that you pass on the ride. This was a huge hit with both boys and I must admit we rode this ride a few times during our visit. The second ride is a ghost train which is situated at the back of Coral island, if you enter form the sea front. This ride was far scarier than I anticipated with my eldest keeping his eyes closed for the duration, me physically screaming every time anything jumped out at us and my youngest leaving the ride in tears! It’s safe to say we didn’t ride the ghost train again, however if you like those kinds of things and have older children then it is definitely worth a go.
4. Family bingo
I don’t ever remember seeing a family bingo in Coral Island before, nor do I think we have ever played it before and it was a little strange at first but a lovely staff member came over and explained how it worked and ensured us that if the children just keep pressing a certain button on the screen that they wouldn’t miss the numbers no matter how fast we felt it was going. Once we got into it we all really enjoyed it and both the tiddler and his dad won which made it all the more fun. If family bingo is something you fancy trying then it is towards the back tucked away under a sheltered area which makes it easy to hear the numbers being called and is worth having a look for.
5.A choice of eateries
Coral Island has a choice of 5 places to eat which between them offer everything from breakfast to main meals and the classic Blackpool fish and chips. We were invited to dine at Captain Jacks where I was pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of the restaurant, standard of food and hospitality of the staff. I had my reservations about what food would be like from an arcade restaurant but Captain Jacks is ran as a separate entirety and although accessed by us through the arcade, once inside it felt very much like any other restaurant in Blackpool. It is themed to feel like a pirates establishment with a very realistic Captain Jack Sparrow wandering around and Pirates of the Caribbean movie playing on a TV that can be seen from almost all the tables, which was great for keep the kids entertained whilst waiting for food. Another plus point for us was that the children were given activity sheets, not just a quick colouring in sheet but word search, Sudoku and spot the difference which helped to pass the time. My husband ordered chicken and ribs and I ordered the hanging chicken kebab. Both meals were delicious, fresh, large portions and great value for money and as if that wasn’t enough they also offer free kids meal with each adult’s meal all day everyday. We were all pretty stuffed after our mains but the boys did order a cheese cake to share which also looked amazing.
Never before would I have though to eat in any of the restaurants in Coral Island Blackpool but now I would highly recommend Captain Jacks and would be more than happy to try out one of the others in the future.
6.Up to date machines including VR experiences
It was clear to us that Coral Island Blackpool update their machines and rides on a regular basis ensuring they are up to date with the latest crazes and new found technology. This was evident from the teddies available in the grabber machines that included fortnight toys along side classics such as Winnie the Pooh as much as it was from their pay to play rides that included VR experiences that are definitely a hit with the older children and teenagers at the moment.
7.An over 18’s section
If you are visiting without children then there is also an over 18’s section that allows you to play on machines in a more secluded area where I assume you can concentrate more and not be distracted by small children running around from machine to machine and squealing with delight every time they win 2p or a another key ring.
As you can see Coral Island Blackpool has so much to offer for the whole family and we had a wonderful time staying for nearly 5 hours compared to the 2 I had anticipated. It has something for everyone and you can easily make a day of it or add it on to a beach walk, tower visit or sea life center trip, all of which are in walking distance.
(We were gifted tickets for some machines and a meal for 4 at Captain Jacks in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.)