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Blackpool Sandcastle (Blackpool)
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Blackpool Sandcastle (Blackpool)
Date: 02/04/02, updated on 02/04/02 (2877 review reads)
Advantages: in op
Disadvantages: in op
Over Easter weekend I did something I vowed I would never do: I went swimming at Blackpool Sandcastle. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the Sandcastle, per se, but there’s a lot wrong with it on a Bank Holiday, namely all the tourists. Still, it couldn’t be helped.
The Sandcastle is on the South Promenade in Blackpool, almost directly opposite the Pleasure Beach. It’s somewhere I went a lot when growing up, but normally off season and mid week when it’s bearable. Weekends or Easter, half term or summer and it’s packed. Most days the pool opens at 10am and closes between 4.30 and 6pm. We arrived about five past ten because I know from experience how fast the car parks in Blackpool fill up. We parked right next door in the Sandcastle’s own car park. This is pretty pricey if you stay all day unless, like us, you pick a day when the meters are out of order thus leaving you with no option apart from leaving a nice note on your windscreen and, erm, not paying. If you can’t get a space here, try over the road at the Pleasure Beach, on the road in one of the pay and display parking bays or up the road in the more central multi-stories.
Inside the complex there are toys and amusements and cafes and toilets before you even get near the pool. There was already a long queue to the cash desks but an entertainer (“Jezz”) was on hand to keep the kiddies entertained. Be warned, if you do have children, or intend bringing more than one person with you, the entrance fees soon mount up. It’s £5.20 per adult and £2.40 per child for those who live a long way away. Those in postcodes FY1 - FY8 and PR1 – PR5 can join special privilege clubs allowing discounted entry (proof of address is required), and family tickets are available which work out marginally cheaper if you have 2 adults and 2 or 3 children in your party. After 2pm it’s also cheaper, but not by much a
nd the parking’s almost impossible, so I wouldn’t recommend it. After flashing my Fylde Family Club card (10 years old, but still valid), insisting that Quy was my adopted brother to get him in cheap too ;-) and paying, we were on our way.
Once you hand over your ticket you head down the stairs (there’s a lift for wheelchair users, but it’s tiny) to the changing rooms. These are quite spacious, or at least the female ones are. There’re communal benches, individual cubicles (although with curtains rather than lockable doors), lots of lockers (returnable 50p needed), toilets, showers, play pens and a vanity alcove full of mirrors and hair dryers (20p) for making yourself look presentable as you leave. The area is generally cleanish and there’s always a member of staff around if you have any questions / comments / complaints. On the clean point, this is probably due in part to the sign in each cubicle which kindly requests that you refrain from “eating, drinking or urinating” while inside…. You could follow the signs to the pool of you can find them. I couldn’t, but then luckily years of experience helped me remember the way – go to the showers and head away from the loos and through the unmarked doors. Here the changing rooms meet and there’s a ramp up to the pool area. Bags are permitted here, so we usually put valuables in the lockers and bring towels and books out to leave by the pool side.
There are 2 main pools and 2 splash pools from the chutes. Around the edge there are tacky plastic picnic style tables and chairs and sun loungers (hence the need for towels – to reserve these while you swim – German? Moi?), vending machines and a handful of cafes although all serve the same food. There are also toilets, baby changing facilities (for when your kids are doing your head in and you want to swap them for someone else’s, perhaps?), first aid stations and a los
t children room, plus a small sauna. For the children there’s an entertainment area in high season where Jezz and co organise Karaoke, limbo competitions, quizzes and so on, all free of charge. There’s also Treasure Island play area and mini golf. Typhoon Lagoon is to your right as you exit the changing rooms. It slopes down getting as deep as 1.8m at the far end, although non-swimmers and those with floats or arm bands aren’t allowed this far. Twice an hour the lagoon turns into a wave pool, and the onset of this is signalled by a rather loud HONK. The other pool, Sleepy Lagoon, has baby slides, mushrooms waterfalls and a mini-jacuzzi. This pool goes up to 2m deep at one area, and there’s a small section where diving is allowed. There are 4 chutes : the Gentle Giants (blue and yellow – the blue’s faster - non-swimmers only when accompanied by swimmers) and the Barracuda and Serpent Slides (green and patterned, too steep for me now (although I liked them when we came on a trip here with Brownies many moons ago), no non-swimmers at all).
The management are obviously very aware of safety requirements, unlike at some pools I’ve swum in. Everywhere there are notices stating the depth of the pool, and the life guards seem to be paying attention, at least most of the time. If an especially small child is riding on someone’s back into the deep area, for example, they’ll ask him to swim a bit to show them he can. Although this could annoy the little ones, it’s better safe than sorry. On the slides there are strict riding regulations and exclusions – pregnant women, those with back problems, glasses or goggles wearers and epileptic swimmers all have special instructions. There are 10 life guards on duty at any one time (8 on the poolside and one on each pair of flumes), and during the waves more than usual congregate around that pool. For general admissions, every under 8 must be accompanied by an ad
ult on a 2:1 ratio, and under 5s on a 1:1 basis. Non-swimmers over 8 must also have a responsible over 16 year old with them at all times. No glass is allowed by the pools, including jars of baby food which should be decanted into plastic containers when you get there. The leaflet you get when you go in explains the safety information and includes a map of the complex, including depths, so you can take a minute to plan before you swim, and they even let you know how the pool’s disinfected (with a Bromide Hypochlorite System) in case you’re one of those allergic types.
So after all that, what do I think? I’ve been here a lot, although not recently, and I must confess that it seems to have lost its charm. The pool is looking a little worse for wear, but it hasn’t been renovated in all the time I’ve lived here, so it’s not surprising. Although the water is clean enough, the pools themselves seem to be getting a little grotty. The policy of no food not bought inside being allowed to be eaten inside is obviously commercially viable for them, but a pain for visitors as the menu is very limited. There’s an extensive bar (bit stupid really since their leaflet states “persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not welcome in this pool” ) but the cafes only offer burgers, chips, ice cream and donuts. The prices are reasonable though – and significantly lower than inside the Pleasure Beach. The children’s play area, although fun, really requires shoes and maybe shorts and t-shirts, not just swimming costumes, unless your offspring particularly like pinched skin and scratches. I don’t know what the pool’s capacity is, but they sure seem to let a lot of people in – during our final wave session last weekend it was almost wall to wall.
According to the adverts it’s the “warmest, wettest, wildest family day IN” and this plays on a good point – the
lovely British weather. My advice – if you live locally and you have children, go out of season. If you come to Blackpool for a weekend and it rains, go early in the day. If you have a tattoo, go to show it off (almost every person in the pool bar me and him had one – and that’s not an exaggeration). If you want some serious swimming time, don’t go because you won’t get any. I won’t be back again in the near future, but I’m kinda at the wrong age – too old to be the kid and too young to have the kids. Still if you’re there in the near future, say hi to the flamingos for me.
Sorry this is long, but I wanted to include everything. If you still want more information, have a look at
This is up to date and has the times for each day they’re open this year, although be warned, their customer service is a bit poop. I emailed them through their “please, contact us!” link more than a fortnight ago, and still haven’t had a response.
01253 343 602
Oh and I know this isn’t about Blackpool in general, but I’ve asked them to move it as soon as they put up the right category. I would’ve waited to post it, but I’m inpatient, and plus I’m off on holiday for a week :-)
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