*This post is a paid partnership with Coral Island Blackpool*
We were recently invited to spend the day at Coral Island in Blackpool and as soon as I mentioned it to my six year old Olly, he was desperate to jump in the car and head up north straight away. Coral Island is Blackpool’s largest free to enter family attraction. It’s on the main promenade and directly opposite the RNLI station and in the shadows of Blackpool’s most famous Tower, Coral Island is really easy to find.
Having been to Blackpool previously, and living up north for three years when I was at university, I wasn’t all that keen on the town. We had been in the winter many years ago, when it was freezing cold, raining and the pier and shops were mostly shut, it didn’t paint a great picture. However, I’m always open to revisiting places and as we had never been into Coral Island, I was keen to take another look with the family.
As we had never been in before, we weren’t sure what to expect inside Coral Island. I did expect it to be a hit on our senses and I was right. It’s busy, it’s noisy, it’s well lit but with colours and lights everywhere and music coming from machines, here, there and everywhere. We also knew there would be arcades a plenty and had heard there were rides to enjoy too so we couldn’t wait to meet up with my Sister and my Nephew celebrating his birthday, who we had invited along to enjoy the day with us, to explore the attraction.
Set a budget
Our first port of call was the change machines. These are dotted around Coral Island. We had come prepared with some cash to change into smaller coins ready for the 2p machines. It’s a good idea to set yourself a budget and stick to it, as it is very easy to overspend in here. Armed with pots of change, Olly and his cousin headed off for the 2p machines to win their fortune (or a couple of tickets at least!)
Coral Island is huge. It’s a Pirate themed attraction with lots to see, lots to play with and lots to take part in so we made a plan. We decided to spend some cash first, hit the 2p and 10p machines and see if we could win some money back and bag some of the treasured tickets. These tickets could then be cashed in for prizes at the end of our day from the onsite prize shop! Olly had already spotted a car he just had to win so that was the aim!
Family games to enjoy in Coral Island
Whilst there are lots of individual games to play, there are also some games that the whole family can join in with and enjoy. Camel Derby and Bingo are just a couple of games you can play alongside the rest of the family. Camel Derby was really good fun. You take a seat and in front of you there is a triangle of holes which you need to roll some balls into. Each hole has a score and each score moves your Camel forward by so many points. We had three goes each and my husband Greg won one of the three races. He was delighted to pick out a small soft toy for Freddie who was watching on in amusement.
Bingo was another game the whole family could join in with and it’s all electronic these days which is a far cry from when I used to work in a bingo hall (uni days!) You sit down in front of a screen and the numbers are automatically highlighted on the screen if you tap the bottom board. I did spend a good five minutes frantically remembering what order the numbers were but shouldn’t have bothered as I didn’t win anyway! Olly won on his first board much to his (and our) surprise and he won 75 tickets to spend in the Bingo prize shop. This is separate to the main Coral Island Prize Shop and unfortunately we didn’t realise this until the end of the day!
There’s also some restricted adults-only gaming areas which are clearly signed. These include the Casino, Island Slots and Admirals Lounge. My husband went in to try his luck but didn’t win his fortune!
Take a ride or two
The boys wanted to try out the rides so we headed to the Pirate Flyer first. The Pirate Flyer is a monorail ride which goes above the heads of those playing on the machines below and gives a great view of the attraction from above. Freddie, our toddler, went on the ride with his Daddy and he loved to wave at everyone underneath.
Olly and I decided we wanted to go on the ghost train too. It was the first time Olly had been on something like this so I wasn’t sure what to expect with him but he loved it. He told me he wasn’t scared and that it wasn’t real so he was ok! Unfortunately it spooked my nephew a little and he refused to go back on it. If I’m being honest, it looks a bit worse for wear now and could do with some TLC but I wonder if that’s part of the look, I’m not sure.
We also spotted the Virtual Reality game but it was really busy with lots of people on it every time we went past and then on the occasion, it was free, nobody wanted to go on it but it looked good fun if you like Virtual Reality games.
Where to eat in Coral Island
Within Coral Island are four different places to eat and get a drink. There’s the Fish and Chip shop, Peggy’s Family Snack Bar, Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill and The Buccaneer Family Bar and Restaurant which serves a 3 roast carvery every Sunday. We decided to head to Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill for some well earned lunch.
With eyes bigger than our bellies (or maybe not!) we ordered starters and quickly realised when the starters came out, how generous the portion sizes were. We definitely could have shared a couple of plates of food between the five of us but you live and learn. We all had nachos to start as the starters menu was rather limited but we all love nachos so enjoyed them.
For our main courses, both my Sister and I had seen a customer on another table enjoy the Hanging Chicken Kebab and it looked so good. We both ordered it and not to be left out, my husband ordered one too! Our main meals came with a huge serving of chips too, the portion sizes are very generous! The food was hot, tasty and really enjoyable.
We were so full from our main course that we decided against a dessert and opted for a walk along the prom and the pier for some fresh air.
Kids Eat Free
One of the best things about the restaurants in Coral Island is that Kids Eat Free. For every paid adults meal, one under 10 kids meal is free. This offer is available all day, every day in all of the Coral Island restaurants.
The children’s meals on offer in Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill were typically child-friendly. Dishes such as Sausages, Chicken Nuggets, Fish Fingers, Burger in a Bun, Macaroni Cheese were all on the menu and all came with fries and a side salad or baked beans. Again, the portion sizes are generous and really good value priced at £3.95 (if not eaten as part of the Kids Eat Free deal).
Don’t forget to swap your tickets
As we had used up all our change and dug around in bags for the last remaining coins to spend (Olly not me!) we decided to exchange all our tickets for prizes at the Prize Shop. A very kind lady had won a bundle of tickets on a grabber machine and donated them to the boys which we thought was very nice of her and in total, we had accumulated around 800 tickets so my husband took Olly and our nephew over to the shop to pick out their prizes. They came away with two racing car sets, a football and a Fortnite keyring.
Combined with a walk along the beach, a ride on a donkey for my nephew and an ice-cream on Central Pier, we all had a really lovely day out in Blackpool. The weather was beautiful (cold but sunny) and we all had a really great time. Armed with prizes and goodies galore from Coral Island, we headed back to the car full of smiles and with very tired feet. Previously my impressions of Blackpool weren’t all that great but after a day in the town and seeing how much fun we had as a family, we had a really great day out and would definitely go back again. Thanks Coral Island!
Disclosure: We were invited to Coral Island as VIP’s and our expenses were covered. However, all thoughts and images are my own.