So this weekend is The Hoppings! Did I ever bore you lot with how I met my husband when we were both working in Metroland? I shall save that old chestnut for another post, but having worked at a theme park (with the 'fastest scariest indoor rollercoaster in europe' i'll have you know) for two years I always get a bit nostalgic about fun fairs. And when I start to see the photographs from the Hoppings then I always want to go. My husband is a bit less nostalgic (should I be offended?) and is pretty adamant that the busy-ness of the Hoppings with two toddlers would be no fun, and the rational side of me agrees it'll be better to wait a few more years.
But last weekend we went to Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields, and if like me the photos of the Hoppings bring out a desire for the smell of freshly cooked doughnuts and a slightly too competitive go on the dodgems, but you have toddlers or pre-schoolers, then Ocean Beach in South Shields might be a good alternative.
We went in the middle of the day last Sunday, and it was really quiet. We could get on any of the rides we wanted without waiting. My two kids are 3 and 1.5 and there were lots of rides my eldest could have gone on. As you can see from the photograph, perhaps we misjudged how many rides my youngest could go on, as she wasn't too impressed with the fast one we stuck her on.
We visited as part of the annual bloggers picnic which was organised by North East Family Fun, who very kindly gave us 25 complimentary tickets which usually cost £10. Not knowing how much we'd get for that I was pleasantly surprised with how many rides it got us on.
All of the rides accept tickets which you buy in advance from the ticket booths. Tickets are 50p each, or discounted so you get 25 if you are spending £10 up front. The smallest of the toddler rides like the little car carousel (which even my 1.5 year old loved), the faster car circuit (which 1.5 year old hated and will probably be brought up during her future therapy sessions), mini chairoplane ride and the helter skelter were 3 tokens per kid. The slightly bigger rides which suited my 3 year old like the caterpillar rollercoaster, bouncy castle slides (where you got 5 minutes play) and flying helicopter and aeroplane rides were 4 tokens each. So depending on the rides you picked £10 would get you on about 6-9 rides. With our tokens and a slow mooch around we spent about an hour in the park.
If South Shields is a bit of a drive away then South Marine Park is just across the road from Ocean Beach Pleasure Park and was a good sized park with two play park bits and loads of green space, obviously the actual beach is right next to it too.
Everyone knows you have to have an ice cream at the beach, and if you are at South Shields then Scoop and Bean, right next to Ocean Park, is lush! They provided us bloggers with a free ice cream, and I very much we subscribe to the theory that free things always taste better, but even saying that the salted caramel ice cream was amazing. The best ice cream I've had in a while, and the kids' and Daddy Sprog's disappeared so quickly that its safe to say they enjoyed them too.
Ocean Beach Pleasure Park is open every day! The website states limited rides are open on weekdays between 12-5 and i'm guessing here, but I think that they are more likely to be the ones suitable for pre-schoolers. On Friday evenings the rides are discounted too so most only cost £1. They are open 10am until late on weekends.
Are you going to the Hoppings? Are we being wimps by not going? What age would you start taking your kids to the fun fair? Did you used to go to Metroland? I'll stop with the Spanish Inquisition style questions now, but as you might have gathered we like comments so feel free to leave any in the box at the bottom.
Disclosure Policy - We received complimentary tickets to use in Ocean Beach Pleasure Park. There was no obligation to produce a post, but I wrote this post as I wanted to share our experience visiting.