During half term, we took our first ever trip to Butlin’s Bognor Regis as we have been chosen this year as ambassadors. We have never ever been to this iconic holiday venue so were keen to see what it was like. Prior to the trip, I had researched a lot online and loved that the website gave us a countdown which Charlie wanted to check regularly! We were very excited that during May half term Dick and Dom were visiting so Charlie was ready to do some shouting of “bogies!”
Bognor Regis is in Sussex and was about three and an half hours away from us so we set off early as it was Bank Holiday Monday and luckily missed the traffic. As we were super super early (like 10.30am!) we headed into Bognor and had some breakfast before popping over to have a look at the beach. It was quite warm so we built stone castles that the kids loved. We then headed back to the site so our holiday could begin!
We arrived about 12.45pm (our confirmation said we can use the facilities from 1pm and check in from 3pm) and were in a short queue. We drove to the check in booth and were directed where to go and park. As we were staying in a gold apartment, we were sent to the Atlantic Bay car park which has it’s own dedicated reception. On parking there with ease, we went down to the reception where we had to wait for around 10 minutes. The staff were so incredibly friendly and helpful on arrival. We were given our wristbands to wear throughout our stay, key cards that wouldn’t activate until 3pm and welcome pack. This had maps, entertainment guides, told us which restaurant we were in as we had a premium dining plan and also our Dick and Dom show tickets. The gentleman who gave us our packs gave us tips on the best shows to see and also gave us a map and excellent directions to our apartment. As we had a couple of hours to kill and had been organised (for once) we had our swimming costumes to hand so we went off to find the pool which was literally over the road from the reception.
The pool had loads and loads of changing rooms which were family sized which with twins is a blessing! The lockers are £1 and refundable. The pool itself is a good size and has a variety of things to do. They have w wave machine that goes on intermittently, a range of slides (these have height restrictions) and smaller slides for the younger ones. We were thrilled to be able to take our daredevil daughters on one of the bigger slides and they were really happy. It wasn’t too busy so would definitely recommend taking your costumes if you arrive early on check in day. After our swim, it was time to go and have a look at our room.
We were allocated a three bedroom gold apartment which was based a few minutes away from the Skyline pavilion (the main hub) and our allocated dining restaurant which was a real plus. Our apartment was based on the second floor which I was a little dubious about with two year old twins as there were a lot of steps, however my husband pointed out that as they go to bed very early we wouldn’t have people walking past so in hindsight this was actually a blessing in disguise. From the outside, the apartment did look quite dated and inside whilst the curtains and décor had been smartened up I still did feel it was quite basic. As we had a premium dining plan, we didn’t use any of the cooking facilities which I was glad about as the cooker didn’t look in the best state nor did the fridge. Unfortunately, it was quite difficult to get past the fact that this was our view from our main living room window
We didn’t have a balcony which wasn’t really an issue as we didn’t have the weather for it as it was sadly grey and overcast all week. I also found the bathroom for what was a six person accommodation incredibly small as the door didn’t open fully so you had to walk in and shut the door behind you before being able to reach the sink. There was a heated towel rail which was very handy after going swimming. The apartment really was used as a base as we left in the morning and rarely returned in the day as we were busy doing the activities. I do however wonder if this was gold, what the silver and standard was like as I really felt it was quite a basic room with camping style beds and ageing appliances.
I did a short tour of the accommodation so you can have a look for yourselves
One thing I simply cannot fault was the choice of entertainment on offer. We spent pretty much every morning and early afternoon at the Skyline Stage where we got to see Fireman Sam, Thomas the Tank engine, Mike the Knight, Angelina Ballerina and the famous Skyline Gang. The girls absolutely loved watching their favourite characters up on the big stage and Charlie too loved being able to dance along. Some of the shows lasted just 20 minutes but others were on for 45 and I was shocked that the girls say for the whole time – this is unheard of! It was a really fun atmosphere with loads of space for the kids to sit and watch. The famous redcoats also sat in the crowd with them to help out with instructions and get them all going.
Charlie also tried out some of the activities on offer, his favourite being the “Road to Wem-Billy” He was annoyed as he hadn’t brought any of his (vast collection) football kits but still took part. The coaches again were just brilliant with all the kids and really made it a fun session.
On Tuesday, we were lucky enough to get tickets to see Dick and Dom live at Butlin’s. Charlie is a huge fan and was really excited about the show.
We had been due to meet them earlier in the day at their joke academy but sadly there was a mix up with tickets and we didn’t get to go. I would say that the queues for the bigger evening entertainment that starts at 7pm in the Centre stage are HUGE. With three kids, there was no way we would have been able to keep them occupied for over an hour but people seemed to start queuing a good couple of hours beforehand to get seats near the front. We didn’t mind though as I knew we would end up taking many toilet trips (joys of potty training twins!) so we opted for side seats and were happy enough as there were TV screens at the side of the stage to watch all the action. The show as the highlight of our week as they were hilarious! It was Dick Vs Dom and they did a series of tasks to see who would win. There was some audience participation and the puppet talking mask had us all in stitches.
The pantomime on Thursday was also really good. Again we didn’t get very good seats due to our reluctance to queue for ages but it was a really good production and glad we went. There was lots of singing and dancing to be done and our three partied their socks off. It was super busy even at the 4pm show but definitely worth checking out.
We also visited the Reds Stage on the last night for the I Want To Be… show that had all the characters from the shows in the week, so if you missed any this was a chance to see them. There was also a disco on afterwards that we stayed for but our kids can’t hack the pace so we were back at the apartment for 8.30pm!
On a very rainy Tuesday, we decided to go and see the Dino Babies live show as P2 is a huge dinosaur fan. It was a 3D live experience in a smaller theatre. Again, there was a £5 per person but we thought we would treat them! It was a lovely intimate theatre and we loved the songs and it totally transfixed my dinosaur loving duo. There were parts where you needed the 3D glasses and these were provided when you go in, along with booster seats which was great as we sat right at the back!
Aside from the live shows, there is also a brilliant indoor smaller fairground for younger ones to go on all the rides. There are cars, planes, teacups and ladybugs which we spent lots of time on as the weather wasn’t so great. There is also a huge soft play but with three all at different heights and ages, we didn’t really go on it as they didn’t like being separated – and the girls got jealous as wanted to go on the bigger one.
There are all sorts of arcade games too which Charlie loved, I think we have spawned a 2p slot machine fiend! There is also a larger outdoor fairground which has a lovely old-school style feel with a helter skelter, carousel and other rides. Sadly the horses were out of order for the duration of our stay which the girls were a little disappointed.
We also managed to go on the Helter Skelter as due to rain that had to be closed due to health and safety and we all absolutely loved it. I think if the weather had been nicer we would have spent so much more time out there and also on the park that had some great slides.
We also had a family game of bowling which was priced at £5 per person. It was the first time the girls had bowled before so we were rather surprised when P2 came second! It was lots of fun and definitely something for the family to enjoy together. They had side bumpers and rails to help little ones launch the balls so suitable for everyone. It’s best to book your slot earlier in the day as it was booked up in advance. They also hire out the shoes for no extra charge.
The girls also attended one of the messy play sessions that are run in the toddler area and got to dig dinosaurs out of jelly, colour in and play with playdough. I don’t think many people realise where this is as there weren’t many there but it was a great activity with super friendly staff who really made a fuss of the girls – which they loved!
We were each given a premium dining plan which meant that we had access to the all you can eat buffet style restaurants. We were seated in the Coast restaurant which had the children’s selection but you could also go next-door and use the Yacht buffets too. We ate there for breakfast and our evening meal. I liked that it started at 4.30pm as our kids eat early so we could get them fed and ready for the evening entertainment at 7pm. The restaurant was an all you can eat and you just helped yourself. It was bright, clean and modern looking. You could choose where you wanted to sit and there was loads of tables of a range of sizes.
The breakfast did become very same-y by the end of the week but that is pretty typical with breakfasts! The evening meals were nice and I enjoyed the differing roast dinners they are my favourites. The kids station were really well equipped with plastic cutlery and crayons and colouring sheets which helped keep ours amused. I found that our plates were cleared quickly and that food was restocked quickly when running low. My only small gripe (and this is being very very pedantic) was that the staff tended to be cleaning the glass area in the centre of the restaurant when we were eating and my husband had to ask them if they minded stopping spraying the glass with cleaning fluid as it really was off putting to the point where the food was tasting of cleaning spray. I only mention it as it happened on three separate occasions and surely there’s a better time to clean the glass as it’s closed throughout the day! I’d also like to see toilets in the Coast restaurant as with three kids it was quite a trek keeping going to and from the toilets which are right at the other end in the other room. I thought there was a good variety of drinks too (hot and cold juices and squashes) and if you wanted an alcoholic drink or fizzy drinks you could order at the bar but these weren’t included in the price.
Overall, the kids absolutely LOVED it. They had the time of their lives (and slept EVERY NIGHT!) as there was so much to do every single day and no two days were the same for them with different characters to watch. I really do think that the variety of entertainment was faultless. I do think we ended up doing more for the girls age group opposed to Charlie’s, but luckily he’s still happy to go on all the small rides and watch the shows with them.
From my point of view, the accommodation really let the holiday down. I personally would not recommend these gold apartments that we stayed in and do not think you could justify the price for them. I think if we were to go again, I would only look at staying in the chalets or the hotel which look modern, clean and luxurious. Saying all that, the kids enjoyment and happiness are more important than my personal opinions and that outweighed my negatives. I do hate being negative in reviews but as always, I vow to be completely honest.
Here is a short little vlog with all the fun entertainment we enjoyed when we were away.
Disclaimer – as Butlin’s ambassadors, we were given a four night stay in a gold apartment along with a premium dining plan for the purpose of this review. All words, videos, photos and opinions are completely my own