Underwater Kingdom at Blackgang Chine
Underwater Kingdom is the latest addition to Blackgang Chine‘s many lands of imagination. The whole area has been transformed into an underwater themed adventure. Entering through a dark cavernous tunnel, you step out into a vibrant coral reef where you are greeted by Giuseppe the crab, asking you to look out for his family along the way. Venturing further into the depths of the ocean, animatronic turtles float above you, before you encounter an enormous animatronic whale, high enough to walk underneath but low enough to feel as if he is swimming just above you. As with Blackgang Chine’s other attractions, there is plenty of interactivity and play opportunities in Underwater Kingdom, including a sunken shipwreck to crawl through. This was a real hit with the kids and I was curious to find out what was inside so sent the little one back in with a camera…
There are so many little details in the Underwater Kingdom, from the shimmery patches of glitter on the ground to a golf ball and tee cleverly disguised as a pearl. We ventured through the area several times, each time noticing things we’d missed before. If you are visiting soon, here are a few things to look out for…
Also new for 2017 is the Chine Cafe, serving a variety of food from pizzas to fish and chips, paninis and children’s lunch boxes. I was very happy that my favourite meal of scampi and chips was on the menu and it was very nice, average in price but generous in portion size. Our youngest is quite a picky eater but enjoyed the children’s lunch box. This is a much lighter meal option though, probably more suited to preschoolers than older children, but there are plenty of other kids’ meals to choose from too. Staff were friendly and helpful, twice coming over to check everything was ok with our meal. The dessert counter was packed full of mouthwatering sights, from blueberry muffins to marshmallow filled cones and even Mr Blobby cookies! The cafe was light and spacious and it was nice to be able to look out at some great views over the park; the dinosaurs on one side, the hedge maze to the other and the Cliffhanger rollercoaster behind.
Exploring the rest of Blackgang Chine
Elsewhere around the park is a mixture of old and new attractions. Visiting Blackgang Chine is one of my favourite memories from a school trip almost 25 years ago (which must have been just before the last major landslide). It is like returning to a very familiar and happy place, although of course it has changed slightly as things are continuously being moved further away from the cliff edge! I remember walking down the winding path through Dinosaur Land and although the dinosaurs are now animatronic and much more life-like, it’s still nice to see some of the old static ones dotted around for the kids to climb on. This is now known as Restricted Area 5, complete with huge T-Rex and even a water-squirting dino (which our kids found highly amusing!) and the ‘warning’ signs are there to entertain the grown-ups as much as the children.
Favourites with our children included the life-size snakes and ladders game and the pirate ships; two large play ships, complete with ladders and decks, plus water cannons to fire at the opposite boat! Cowboy Town was a big hit too, with a fully themed street set in the wild west. The displays were all interactive, the children could ‘lock’ each other up in jail, clamber on the horse and wagon or play with sand in the tots area. A cowboy themed shop sold fun snaps and cap guns and there were several mock shoot outs between kids going on around us.
Some might argue that the older attractions are a bit dated, such as the Crooked House and Nursery Land, but I think it’s nice they have kept some of these older areas as they were, it adds to the nostalgia for parents visiting with their children. The brand new areas alongside the ones reminiscent of years gone by makes a really interesting mixture. Poor old Humpty Dumpty sounds like he could do with a bit of oil though, his creaking back sounds almost as bad as mine! It’s certainly not the type of theme park thrill seekers would visit looking for white-knuckle rides, as there is only one small rollercoaster, Cliffhanger (which unfortunately was closed when we visited), plus the Water Force water slide (which was a big hit with our youngest who’d have kept rejoining the queue all day long if he could!), but Blackgang Chine really is a lovely place for families to explore, have fun, imagine, role-play and enjoy the amazing views from the south coast of the Isle of Wight.
Getting to Blackgang Chine
The ferry crossing to the Isle of Wight only takes 40 minutes from Lymington to Yarmouth with Wightlink, and this is the quickest car ferry route over to the island. In my opinion this is the more scenic route with views of Hurst Castle along the way and also has the prettiest, less built-up ports. On the return journey our car was on the garage deck, where the whole deck is raised up towards the ceiling, which the kids were quite amused by (mum, not so much!) We were lucky to be travelling on a really beautiful sunny day, which certainly made the ferry crossing more picturesque. Although it was quite windy, my daughter and I were happy to sit out on the sun deck, while the boys preferred the warmth of the lounge area! Once in Yarmouth, Blackgang Chine is just a short drive away.
We enjoyed a complimentary visit for the purpose of this post.
Linking this post up with #CountryKids and #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky