because raising a large family isn’t for the faint-hearted

Blackpool Illuminations 2019

As a child, I have many fond memories of visiting Blackpool. With my family and also with my grandmother and cousin as a teenager. We used to spend the whole week just roaming the town together whilst grandma played bingo.

This October half term we decided to treat the children to a few days in Blackpool. Of course, because it was half-term, many of the hotels and B&B’s were sold out. So we decided to stay in the Travelodge in Preston for two nights and catch the train into Blackpool each day. The train journey, using our family and friends railcard, worked out much cheaper than the fuel and the parking it would cost to take my car. The only downside was the half an hour walk back to the hotel after spending a tiring day in Blackpool. This was quite hard on the younger children who were feeling tired by then and dreaded the walk with lots of begging for a bus or taxi back!

three sleepy girls asleep on a train
Three tired girls on the train back to Preston

We decided what we were going to do before we went and booked the tickets in advance, as this always helps save money. We also paid to have our breakfast at the Travelodge before we left to catch one of the frequent trains.

Had we been staying in Blackpool longer, I would have purchased a resort pass for us all, which would have worked out a lot cheaper and allowed us to do a lot more things. However, with just a few days we decided to visit the Tower and the Sandcastle.

Sandcastle Waterpark

The first day of our holiday we spent at the Sandcastle swimming pool. All my children are water babies and they love swimming so this was ideal for them.

girls stood by a water feature saying sandcastle water park at blackpool

What I liked

I purchased the tickets in advance which gave you a 10% discount. One thing I really liked was that you could load your locker wristband with credit to use in the cafe to buy food and drinks without having to go back to your locker to get your wallet. Any money unused at the end of your time in the pool is returned to you with your wristband deposit. This was a really good idea and loading £20 allowed us to buy everyone a drink.

The pool itself is really well designed. We all had fun with the waves, which living by the beach and spending time playing in the sea, we are used to. We also bumped into one of the school teachers assistants of all things during the waves which was quite funny.

The children all loved the rapids, every time they disappeared you knew they would be having a ride around the rapids. The little ones also enjoyed the smaller free slides and trying to splash us!

Another thing I liked was the life jackets you could borrow for the younger children. We tried one on our six-year-old Reese, but she wanted to swim without it!

What we didn’t like

The pool is quite expensive on its own, without the fact that you have to buy wristbands to allow you on the bigger slides. We only brought one for my husband and older daughter, but because of the queues and how busy the pool was, they didn’t go on any of the slides which meant we wasted some money.

The fact that the pool was so busy was also a big problem. In fact, the whole of Blackpool was extremely busy with long queues for everything. Being so busy meant that it was difficult to move when the waves were on and the rapids were so busy you were constantly bumping into someone.

I did feel, and I don’t know whether this is a policy or not, that at peak times the number of people should be restricted and that new people should only be allowed in when people have left. It also meant that after 2 hours we had enough of being constantly bumped into and we left.

Central Pier

Since we weren’t visiting the Pleasure Beach, we went to the Central Pier to ride the big wheel. This was a big hit with everyone. We also went on the dodgems and whilst I took the younger two on the kiddie rides, hubby took the older two on the bigger rides.

Whilst on the Central Pier, I spotted something that I had wanted doing for ages. At the Old Time Portrait Studio, we were able to have a family photo taken, which looks like it was taken last century. When we arrived to wait, there was a family having their children’s pictures taken and it looked amazing. The studio has so many props and the children were all holding Victorian toys and it looked very classic! When it was our turn we had plenty of styles to choose from, but I wanted a classic pose. We quickly added the clothes over our normal clothes and then we were posed by the photographer. The staff were lovely and friendly and put us all completely at ease and we only had a few minutes wait for the final photo which I loved! I definitely recommend the place and will visit again next time we’re in Blackpool. Maybe then we’ll go for a wild west theme!

victorian style family photo in black and white vintage style

The Illuminations

As usual, the illuminations were amazing. We met up with a friend who was also on holiday in Blackpool to view the illuminations together. We caught the tram to the end of the illuminations and walked along to see the animated ones.

We all had a favourite illuminations and they were all different. I loved the nursery rhymes ones as it was fun to guess which nursery rhyme they represented. Reese enjoyed the haunted house and dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (my phone had died by now so I had to use my daughters). My other daughter enjoyed walking through the garden and seeing all the TV characters and my eldest daughter enjoyed standing on the surfboard and pretending to surf!

four girls at blackpool illuminations standing on a surfboard in front of lights looking like a wave

Of course, we can’t mention the illuminations without mentioning the illuminated trams! These are amazing and next year I’ve promised we’ll go again and ride the illuminated tram!

blackpool illuminated tram of steam train

Blackpool Tower

The second day we spent at the Tower. There was a long queue so it was nice to have our tickets already purchased and printed to avoid the queue. However, I still had to queue to get the circus tickets and I was disappointed to learn the circus was already sold out for that day. In all my years of visiting Blackpool, I had never been to the Tower Circus and I had been looking forward to it. Plus we were unable to get a refund. Had I known that I would have booked the circus the day before and I recommend that you do so if you plan to go.

Again it was a long queue to get up to the Tower. We had our pictures taken, but because of my eldest daughters blue hoodie, some of the pictures didn’t come out properly. So another suggestion would be to not wear anything blue if you want the pictures taken in front of the blue screen.

The tour guide who took us up in the elevator was very entertaining. He also mentioned that Blackpool was seeing an influx in popularity this year due to Brexit and the sad collapse of Thomas Cook which meant people were holidaying in the UK this October half-term.

When we got up to the top, the two youngest were a little scared about standing on the glass floor, but eventually, they ventured out. We also climbed as high as we could to enjoy the views and trying to see Snowdown in the distance!

Blackpool Tower Dungeon

After visiting the height of Blackpool at the tower, we then went to the lower part of the tower and the dungeons. Again, something I hadn’t done. From the front of the tower, the directions to the dungeon weren’t very clear and the first assistant I spoke to wasn’t very helpful when I asked where it was. Thankfully, the second person was more helpful and explained we had to go out of the back of the tower and queue up on the right.

blackpool dungeon family photo of parents heads in stocks and children looking like they're about to chop their heads off

We had another wait and another opportunity to have our pictures taken. Then it was time to descend. Signs warned us that, whilst it was a family-friendly attraction, it could be scary for younger children under the age of 8. This proved to be true and at the end of the first room we visited, my 12-year-old complained of feeling sick and my 9 and 6-year-olds were very scared and wanted to leave. So daddy took them out and I continued with my 14-year-old. The actors were really good, really getting into character and thoroughly enjoying themselves. At the end of the attraction, there is a ride, but we decided we didn’t want to go on it and went in search of the rest of the family instead.

Blackpool Sealife Centre

Once we had all been reunited, we walked to the Sealife Centre. Again was another opportunity to have our picture taken, but this time we decided not to. We enjoyed walking around and seeing all the different sea life. As Ree

se had been stung by a weaver fish during the summer, we were able to point one out to her.

Seeing the sharks were amazing, even if I do have a phobia of sharks! The turtle was definitely my favourite.

fish face at blackpool sealife

As it was nearly Halloween, the sealife centre had a little quiz where we had to find the hidden items in the tanks and then give the list to the wizard for his potion in exchange for some sweets!

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

One thing the girls begged and begged to be able to do was to have a horse-drawn ride along the prom. I tried to persuade them to wait until the illuminations but they wouldn’t wait. All my girls are animal lovers and the thought of having a ride was too much for them. I was a little concerned about the horses, I felt sorry for them, having to work in busy traffic. But they seemed to be well looked after and calm and when I spoke to the driver, he told me that the horses were changed regularly to give the horses a chance to rest and calm down. The girls loved their ride and felt like princesses in their own carriage and there was so much choice, they found it hard to decide which one to ride!

Running out of time

Because Blackpool was so busy and we were trying to fit in as much as we could. We didn’t get a chance to visit the Pleasure Beach, the Waxworks and of course the Tower Circus which we had planned to do.

blackpool with tower in background and family waiting at tram stop
Blackpool 2019

We are already planning to visit again in 2020 and this time we will spend a lot longer so that we can fit everything in that we missed like the zoo, the Winter Gardens and much much more…

*** Disclaimer ***

This post is not a sponsored post as we paid for everything ourselves. Click here to read more reviews of products and days out

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Rachel (My Crazy Brood)

Parenting Blogger & Mum of 5

Hi, I’m Rachel, the poor mum of this crazy lot! We are; Dad (Bob), Ryan (17), Becky (15) Ruby  (14), Rhian (11) and Reese (7). We also have Gwen the staffy dog, 5 guinea pigs and 2 hamsters. Join us as we navigate the craziness that raising a large family with additional needs can bring.


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