Recently, we were asked if we would like to return to Bournemouth to experience the new ice rink and Santa’s grotto. My excitement got the better of me and without hesistation we booked it in. Almost immediately I then started to have doubts: ice skating with a 2 and a 4 year old? Would there even be skates small enough for little Mimi? Won’t they constantly fall? Will they hate it and ask to get off after 5 minutes? Would it be a stressful nightmare?!
I am so pleased to tell you that all my concerns, worries, doubts and fears were totally and utterly pointless. Not only did we ALL have an absolutely brilliant time, we stayed on the ice the entire time and Bug begged us to take him ice skating ‘again and again and again’ because he ‘LOVED IT!’
Ice SKATE Bournemouth – how suitable was it for families with young children?
Located in Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens, there are two ice rinks: the main ice rink and Rinky Dinks. Rinky Dinks is a seperate, smaller ice rink especially for children. While adults are allowed on the ice and to help, it is a special area just for the children to enjoy and learn to skate.
Adult tickets cost £9 off peak and £10.50 at peak times while children cost £7 off peak and £8.50 at peak times. These tickets give you 1 hour on the ice and in my opinion, it is best you book in advance. You can purchase a family ticket which is slightly discounted and you can also hire skate aids for an additional £4.
Like I said, I was a little apprehensive about taking our two young children ice skating. I was worried they wouldn’t enjoy it, they wouldn’t be able to do it and it would be stressful for us – how wrong was I?
Firstly, and most importantly, both children could easily wear skates. Mimi hired special training skates which went on over her own shoes and had two blades, ensuring she was always balanced. These were adjustable for most sizes. Bug tried these on as well but as soon as we put ours on he decided he wanted some like Mummy and Daddy, so he changed into proper skates with a single blade!
Secondly, we made sure we had reserved skate aids. These are £4 to hire and are essential when skating with young children. There are 2 options: the penguin which was ideal for Bug, and the seal which was perfect for Mimi. Bug loved using the penguin, having it gave him so much confidence and independence. Having never been on the ice before, within 20 minutes he was skating confidently with it. Mimi (and Mummy and Daddy) had SO much fun with the seal. While Mimi liked pushing it around like her brother, she loved sitting on it and having one of us race her around the ice rink. This was a huge bonus for us, we had anticipated that we wouldn’t get to ‘properly’ skate ourselves so having the opportunity to race her around ‘faster and faster’ and ‘again and again’ was so much fun!
Moguls Alpine Bar
After a full hour on the ice, we returned our boots and enjoyed a well earned rest in Moguls Alpine Bar. This is an attached and covered bar area located within the same vicinity as the ice rink and skate hire. The decor is cosy, christmassy and rustic. My husband and I enjoyed sitting on a cosy bench (blankets provided) and the children enjoyed the novelty of sitting on a tree stump stool.
It was lovely to enjoy a rest listening to music while watching the other skaters have their turn. However, most people have the same idea so it can get very busy. We had to wait around for a table so it may be worth considering getting off the ice five minutes earlier to try and grab a cosy space!
The children were desperate to try one of the hot chocolates (and so was I). There are pictures all over the place of this special, deluxe hot chocolate so there was no way we were not getting one. They were delicious and had all sorts of toppings including: whipped cream, a chocolate flake, maltesers and marsmallows! However, priced at £5 each this is very expensive. Also, be aware that you must ask for the deluxe hot chocolate if you want all the toppings. The price for a normal hot chocolate is £3 but I am almost certain most people are after the deluxe one which is in all the pictures.
Be warned, they come VERY hot which was great for me but not brilliant for the children. Also I was a little disappointed that they did not do a ‘children’s hot chocolate’. It is pretty clear that most children would be opting for this drink but the size, temperature and cost was not very appropriate for a 2 and 4 year old. In hindsight, we could have asked them to split the hot chocolate between two cups and this would have been more manageable for the children; however, in my opinion I believe there should be a smaller, cheaper, cooler option for children.
While we didn’t make use of the dining option, I think it is great that you can also order Franco Manca Pizza to enjoy.
A couple minutes walk from ice skating, Santa’s Grotto is located amongst the Christmas market. It was really lovely to have this paired with our ice skating and resulted in a lovely festive day for us all.
As you can see from above, children pay £12.95 and accompanying adults pay £1.50. It is worth noting that the price includes an 8×6 photograph and we were very pleasantly surprised by the children’s gifts. Bug received a lovely mini Minion colouring set by Crayola which included 80 colouring pages and 6 colouring pens. Mimi received a ‘Dear Zoo’ monkey teddy in a lovely matching fabric bag. The children were delighted with their gifts and we were impressed with their quality and suitability.
So how was our Santa experience?
After being greeted by an Elf who took the children’s names and ages, we made our way down the Christmassy walkway. With snowy trees, houses, reindeer, polar bears and penguins, the children were happy. Once we got to the end (its a short walkway) we had to wait in a queue to see Santa. I understand that this is often a regular thing when meeting Santa but it does dampen the magic a little. I was very pleased to see that measures had been taken to occupy the children. There was a small train set for children to play with as well as a small wendy house with a kitchen and utensils for the children to play with. Bug and Mimi loved filling the pans up with artificial snow from the floor – it kept them very occupied! Also, the elves were very friendly and took the time to chat with the children about all sorts of things.
Once it was our turn to see Santa, the children were very excited. They sat with him on the cosy seat and had a lovely chat. I have to say, Santa was lovely! Having had our turn, we now know why there was a bit of a wait but this is something I now appreicate. We weren’t rushed in and out. Santa took the time to talk to the children at great length. He asked about what they were looking forward to, what they wanted, whether they had been good – the usual things. But he also told them tales from the North Pole, showed them his magic key when he learned they didn’t have a chimney and suggested things to leave out for Rudolf. He really was a lovely Santa and I am glad we had to wait as it shows Santa was giving all the children before us just as much as a genuine, thoughtful meeting as we had. After this we received our gifts and the the photographer did his thing. We were very happy with our photographs, the gifts, the experience and the entire day and would highly recommend it.
Big World Little Explorers were the guests of Bournemouth Tourism but all opinions are our own.
If you fancy reading about more festive experiences why not read our recent review: Christmas at Marwell Zoo: Santa and Safari animals, the perfect mix?