Our kids are now at that tricky age where they’re too old for indoor play centres, but still young enough to want to climb, jump and generally mess about with friends. There has always been a gap in days out for this age group, but some bright spark has hit upon the solution – Total Wipeout style waterparks! Think bouncy castle meets Its a Knockout, add 50 or so hyped up kids and you’ve got it!
After having a blast at a course in a disused slate quarry in Cornwall (Kernow Adventure Park) whilst on holiday, we, along with some friends, headed over the fabulous heathy landscapes of Purbeck to Dorset Waterpark.
This is in much more salubrious surroundings: two lakes set in woodland clearings, overlooked by the ridiculously picturesque silhouette of Corfe Castle, and carefully landscaped with plenty of room for watching the action, waiting for your time slot or just refuelling afterwards on one of the many picnic benches.
The system is quite simple – you book a time slot, then turn up in time for getting into wetsuits (you can hire them there or take your own) and a safety briefing, then it’s down to the lakes for your hour of fun. (There are two lakes, so you have 30 minutes on each.)
The obstacle courses are brilliant – lots of balancing, jumping over & off, climbing, sliding, bombing, clambering and general larking about. It looked like great fun (and an amazing workout!), and next time I’d be tempted to join in; there were plenty of adults as well as the children, and it was great to see kids, parents and even some grandparents getting really stuck in together. The highlights for my gang were jumping off the high block practising back flips, getting pinged off the bouncy pillow (one sits on the end and another jumps on from above, hopefully flinging the other miles – the lifeguards were especially good at this!) and generally just messing about with their friends.
It was very well lifeguarded, with professional but fun lifeguards – one of our girls needed her inhaler a couple of times and they were very on the ball, helping quickly and cheerfully, and between keeping an active eye on proceedings were happy flinging children off the pillow, challenging people to races etc.
The setting, as I’ve said, was pretty relaxed, with lots of space to relax between the lakes. Parents can walk around the lakes to view the action, and the lakes themselves are nicely maintained with wildlife in mind, including lots of native pond and bog plants which give it a natural feel. There is a cabin selling ice-creams and very good coffees, and there are obviously toilets, changing rooms and the wetsuit hire area. Just be warned – the changing rooms are communal, which freaked my teenage daughter out a bit.
The sessions are £12.50 if booked 7 days in advance, or £15 nearer the time, but once you’ve been once, you can rebook on the day for £8. There is also archery and a high ropes course which are just £5 per session, which seems very good value. Participants must be competent swimmers, and as the whole point is falling off & falling in, they must be water-confident.
They do childrens parties, hen parties and school trips, and I thought our scout group, for example, would love it. It would make a different team-building session, too!
All in all, I would definitely recommend it, for kids, adults and families to do together, and if you’re going quite a long way, either buy lunch or take a picnic and make a day of it, by adding on archery or high ropes. Alternatively, it is literally next door to Corfe Castle (you can hear the steam train puffing by in the background) so there is the castle, the picturesque village or any of the beautiful Purbeck beaches easily within reach. If you get really carried away, there are also some excellent campsites in the area!
I can see these type of facilities really taking off, as the teens and tweens don’t have many places to go to let off steam in this way, and the screams and whoops were well worth the aching muscles the next day!