If you are planning a family trip to Butlins, I have some insider tips for a VIP Butlins break!
My family and I have been going to Butlins for years. Both my husband and I were taken there on family holidays as children and now we have children of our own, we have continued the tradition! We recently stayed at Butlins Skegness- the original Butlins resort that is one of three seaside resorts Butlins operates in the UK.
On the break as well as the usual swimming, crazy golfing and funfair like activities that we enjoy each time we go, I wanted to observe my break whilst I had it, going about my holiday with a strategic eye, so I could work out how visitors to Butlins might have the best experience of their own short breaks – insider knowledge if you will! I’ve put together my five top tips for making sure that your holiday at Butlins is the best it can be!
Before you go:
1. A lot can actually be done before you get there. In advance of your break, book your spa session and any treatments you want as you may get to resort and find that the time slots you want are fully booked. There is so much for the kids to do that ‘mum’ can afford to sneak away for a little ‘me time’ during the stay.
2. Also in advance, book a ‘Sky Bar’ pass to get seats with an excellent view on the Mezzanine level of the Centre Stage venue. Centre Stage is where the big music and dance shows perform on an evening, and it is ALWAYS crowded. The venue opens at 6.30pm and you will see queues forming from 5.30pm outside to bag a great seat. This queue will snake along the inside of the Skyline Pavillion from one end to the other with holidaymakers wanting to watch the show. Only problem is, even when you are queuing from 5.30pm, you will still not get the best tables as the people who bought ‘B Line’ passes will have snagged those! (More about B Line in Tip 3).
The Sky Bar is only available at Centre Stage at the Skegness resort, but what it means is that your table is waiting upstairs and only the limited few who have wristbands will get them! The Sky Bar capacity is 160-180 whereas the venue has a whole capacity of 2,200 so if you want to see, it’s worth it! On our peak time break (we went in the Easter school holidays) the cost per person for a Sky Bar pass was £20 but on an off peak term time break, you can get Sky Bar passes for £15 per person, per break. I sadly, didn’t know about Sky Bar before my holiday and ended up with a table at the back of Centre Stage to watch ‘Cirque du Hilarious’ with the family – we thought we had an ok view. However as the venue got busier there were people stood in the aisles and constantly walking around the back where we were so our view was completely obstructed. Staff tried to ask people standing to take seats but there were no seats available and they couldn’t keep on top of the traffic. Once one lot of people moved on, a new lot came to stand in their place. We gave up in the end and left without seeing the show which was a great shame. It did put me off trying on the next two evenings, so our evening entertainment on our short break was watching Britain’s Got Talent on the telly in our apartment! Hey, at least we got a great view there!
3. B Line passes. These will get you priority queue jumping in Centre Stage, Reds and Splash Waterworld at all three Butlins resorts! The ‘B Line’ is a separate queuing area at the music venues which allows entry 15 minutes before the main queue gets access, so you get the best tables! At Splash Waterworld, if there isn’t a separate B Line queuing area then just hang around at the entrance as staff will come outside and call for B Line people to enter 15 minutes before everyone else. The B Line only has a benefit to Splash Waterworld customers at pool opening, but if you want to start your day with a swim, you may as well jump the queue! Butlins only allows 300 to 350 B Line passes to be issued per break so that there remains a benefit to buying one. Prices for the B Line pass do vary per break, depending on length of break and if it is term time or peak, but they work out at approx £5 per person, per day.
Whilst you are there:
4. The diners in ‘Premium Dining’ have the best crack at getting photos with the characters, whilst we were eating one evening, Mike the Knight and Ludo came to pose for pictures with the little ones. Here is Ludo leaving…
If you are staying at a hotel at the Bognor resort however, you can book a special ‘Character Breakfast’ at the Shoreline Hotel where a small number of families can have breakfast whilst the characters circulate around the tables, giving you plenty of photo opps with no queue! The character breakfast is free when you stay at any of Butlins’ on site hotels. If you don’t do this you can still get pictures with the characters at the set times on the timetable in the Skyline Pavillion but you have to queue with everyone else!
5. Take advantage of the free kids clubs for your youngsters. Club Red for 9-12 year olds is certain timed sessions where you can leave your child with the qualified Redcoats to make friends and do activities like dancing and diablo so you can have a rest whilst the kids are entertained. There is also a Teens club called VIP. There are sessions for younger children such as the ‘Get Busy’ workshops on art and craft or fencing, but you have to stay with your children at these sessions as they are for 5 – 8 year olds. You can only leave them aged 9+ once you have authorised this with the Redcoats at Club Red.
I almost forgot! Have a look at what I Tweeted whilst I was on my most recent break:
Everyone can have 15 minutes of free wifi each day on their stay, which is just as well because the mobile reception at Skegness isn’t great (even with 4G!) So I stored up all my Tweets and Instagrams and sent them in my 15 minute daily slot!!
I hope these tips are useful. If you visit Butlins regularly, make sure you join the Butlins Premier Club to get extra benefits such as earlier check in when you arrive! Book your Butlins holiday here
2014 Blog Ambassador: JuggleMum is proud to be part of the 2014 Butlins Blog Ambassador programme #ButlinsAmbassadors. As am Ambassador I visit a Butlins resort with my family and report my findings on my blog so you get a real mum’s perspective on the holiday.