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Center Parcs - what activities do you recommend for good value for money?

(21 Posts)
ja9 Tue 12-Apr-11 23:03:17

They all seem so expensive for such a short period of time.

Ds will be 7yo

Dd is 4yo

Didn't plan to book many, but would like to book a couple for each of them.What has worked well for you?


ja9 Wed 13-Apr-11 16:24:34


sassyTHEFIRST Wed 13-Apr-11 16:27:38

No such thing at CP. All a ripoff really.

tattycoram Wed 13-Apr-11 16:30:27

My four year old DS enjoyed going out on a rowing boat on the lake - wasn't expensive iirc but not perhaps not wildly exciting. He did archery too, which was about £8 for half an hour - half the 4 yos were girls and they all seemed to enjoy it. The pool was the big hit really

frankie3 Wed 13-Apr-11 16:32:04

Indoor climbing wall is £5 each. Also my DS loved the fencing.

WillYouDoTheDamnFanjo Wed 13-Apr-11 16:32:06

Everything I've ever booked at CP has left me feeling a bit underwhelmed and ripped off, tbh. Stick with bike hire & the pool and have a couple of days out instead.

winefairy Wed 13-Apr-11 16:41:10

Can only comment about Whinfell as it's the only one we've visited but they have a Treasure Hunt around the village. Maps are £2.50 from the Ranger's Lodge and it takes around two hours. DD really enjoyed that. They get a certificate at the end which she seemed thrilled with. Made me wonder why I'd bothered with all the horse riding etc grin

hocuspontas Wed 13-Apr-11 16:48:09

The only paying thing we feel is value for money is a badminton court or table tennis so the whole family can join in. Ten-pin bowling is ok at 10 am! After that time it's a rip-off. I can't remember how much the Adventure Golf is. That might not be too expensive if you only have to pay for the dcs. Individual activities ARE expensive and not worth the money imo.

ja9 Wed 13-Apr-11 19:52:11

Goodness, hadn't expected such negative responses! Thanks for your advice girlies - really appreciate it as a first-time-center-parcer.

We're going to the Sherwood forest one....

Had wondered about party hour for both, mini ballerina for dd and archery or fencing for ds....

Didn't see any mention of adventure golf - my kiddies would love that.

Do you just book ten pin bowling when you get there or in advance?

frankie3 Thu 14-Apr-11 18:45:26

Did junior crossbows for my 6 year old - it was a bit rubbish, but fencing was really good - you have to book it well in advance.

hocuspontas Thu 14-Apr-11 18:48:39

I book ten-pin bowling in advance because there aren't many cheap slots. I think it does get booked up fairly quickly though regardless of times.

We go to Elveden so I don't know if there is Adventure Golf at the others.

gillybean2 Sun 17-Apr-11 16:49:47

Definitely book in advance to be sure of getting a slot for anything you really want to do.
We've only been to elvedon so don't know if these are available where you are going...

Ds loves the mammal magic (lots of cute animals to pet and stroke and learn about). You do have to pay for an adult as well as a child though.

The kids show is a hit with kids (though pretty boring for adults) and is one of the cheaper activities.

Badminton or soft tennis is 'reasonable'. With a 4yr old you might find the soft tennis better. We paid £9 for an hour which included the equipment hire. Our group had kids ranging from 10-18 and they enjoyed badminton much more than outdoor tennis but we saw plenty of smaller ones trying the indoor/soft tennis hence why I'm suggesting that option.

If they have adventure golf then yes do that. At elvedon its £15 for a party of 4 iirc.

Bowling....mmmm wouldn't rave. You can do that any time at home tbh. Try something like the birds of prey experience or something different for the same money that they wouldn't be able to do so easily at home.

Hire a row boat or pedalo is reasonable price, but be ready to wear yourself out. Ds wanted me to get to the other side of the lake and back in the time slot when we did it!

Take lots of value loaves to feed the ducks (I suggest 2 per day per child - ie 1 for morning 1 for afternoon). If you haven't got many ducks/geese outside your challet go down to the lake or the village square 'river' where there will be more.

Make the most of the pool. Go for a shortish visit a couple of times a day. By 2 hours they are worn out. So perhaps aim for 1-1.5 hours with the promise to come back later. Get an inflatable ball (they will blow it up at the swim desk for free) so you can play catch.

Ds's favourite activity has always been the ariel adventure but there is a height restriction on it. It's not cheap (but worth it out of all the 'adrenaline' options imo). On our visit last week this activity was appreciated by all. You will need an adult to go round with him though as the safety harness takes some effort to 'flick' over the notches and ds couldn't manage it when he was 8.

Oh and a trip to the pancake house can be an activity in itself. Pick a pancake or an icecream and colour in pictures while you wait and get a balloon too. We had to have a separate locker for ds's balloon as we were heading to swimming from there!

And take board games like guess who and downfall and a pack of cards. Part of what I love about CP is the 'together' time with no computers or electronic games when you are having a rest time back at your challet. And that will cost you nothing if you already have the games!

chicaguapa Sun 17-Apr-11 16:54:27

IME it's cheaper to hold off the activities for as long as possible and stick to cycling and the pool. DC are 9&6 and still don't expect to do any extras. We've been going since before before DS was born.

gillybean2 Sun 17-Apr-11 16:55:02

Re the 'rip off' comments. Yes things are expensive really, but they are all in one place, you get to cycle about, enjoy some 'nature' and do loads in a few days that you probably wouldn't do at home. Plus if you factor is say hiring a badminton court, travelling there, getting a drink/snacl etc. Then another day heading off (in the car) to go-ape or some such it's not massively more expensive imo.

It is far too easy to get carried away and book up too much and then find you are rushing about and not getting time at the pool.

Make the most of your bikes and go on bike rides, nature walks etc on your own.

Expect things to be pricey and just get on and accept it. If you don't want to pay the price don't do the activity. It's easy to avoid anything and everything really.

Oh and we tend to only go to the games/machine room on teh last day and spend whatever £1 coins I have left over from my locker/haystack drier stash.
Take plenty as the change machine is ALWAYS always empty

gillybean2 Sun 17-Apr-11 16:59:06

Agree with Chicagupa. Book things later in your stay so they have it to look forward too. We picked Ariel adventure for the Thursday and the kids were all wanting to do it again. We could use the excuse that it was fully booked in the afternoon and wasn't on during Friday/changeover day to placate them.

JemimaMop Sun 19-Jun-11 21:39:44

Not sure if you have been yet, but DS2 did both archery and fencing last year and loved them. All 3 of mine also enjoyed the party hour.

TBH I don't think that the activities are that bad, but then I live in the sticks where a lot of activities are either non existant or a long journey, so having them all on your doorstep is great. I'm not so interested in the nature, I can get that at home grin

This year I have booked the 3 day soccer school for DS1 and DS2 (DS1 did one day of it last year, as well as one day each of tennis and cricket, but loved soccer and they both want to do it all week this year). DD will be doing a Pony Ride, Mini Ballerinas and Animal Magic.

I have also booked Tenpin Bowling and hired bikes. We will swim every afternoon. I'm the sort of person who loves to have everything organised in advance so also make reservations at the restaurants for each night. Plus for myself I have booked a couple of Spa treatments.

I can't wait to go.

Kez100 Mon 20-Jun-11 12:42:03

We enjoyed the archery and the hour was enough time. Not sure of price - about £14 a I think - and we thought it was worth it.

I also loved the Twilight Spa which we did as a couple a few years ago - about £40 total. I thought it was fabulous value given the quality of the spa.

Otherwise we only ever use bikes (not good value for the time you use them) and pool and self cater. Love it there though.

rookiemater Tue 21-Jun-11 17:52:29

We did the Lads & Dads football last time ( not me obviously DH & DS) I thought that was a waste of money as there was too big an age range and the lad running it was too young to make sure that DS age 5 was able to be involved.
Went to the panto, I hated it but the children seemed to really enjoy it, only one adult go to save money and sanity.
If you can swing it so you go to the Aqua Sana ( sorry no children) that is very good value, you would pay at least £60 for the equivalent experience outside CP.

mycatoscar Fri 24-Jun-11 18:26:26

last time we went, dd aged 5 begged to go to the time out club, she loved it and it gave us some childfree time

£15 for a 3 hour session, thought it was reasonable value.

we also liked the bowling

didnt pay for anything else except mini golf

johnworf Fri 24-Jun-11 20:51:18

We've been to Whinfell a few times and about to go back next month.

After overbooking on the first visit, we limited it to 3 activities on the second. On each subsequent visit, we've booked less organised activities and instead, gone in the pool and used our bikes.

DH & DSS (now aged 11) have always done the lads/dads football and loved it. The outdoor laser quest was also a hit but very expensive at £25 each. Archery is good and you can do the Little Johns for a 9 year old. I did a pre-school creative class with my DD who is now 3 and it was a complete waste of money imo. I could have done it in the lodge with her for a fraction of the price (so we do that instead!!)

We take all of our own food now as the restaurants are so-so food and overpriced imho. The Parc Market is ok for essentials but we tend to just use it for newspapers and milk.

I agree with gillybean2 that a pack of cards, some board games, and maybe a football are great if you have a free hour. We also take our tennis raquets/balls with us and play on the court after 8pm when no one is on them.

There is a real sense of doing things as a family when we go and the children are whacked out every night from doing stuff. smile

slipperandpjsmum Mon 27-Jun-11 09:39:55

We always do the activities as a family which is fun. Last time we did the Birds of Prey which was great and the Walk with Alpacas which we really enjoyed to and fencing, which I had never done before. I prob wouldn't describe the activities as value for money but we enjoyed it.

We have bar-b-qs which weather permitting is good and we have the lodge with the sauna so dip in and out of there and the kids love the outdoor shower!

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