“ Address: 10 Sandhill Drive / Portrush / Co.Antrim / BT56 8BF „
I can be quite nostalgic sometimes, and when I hear somewhere I used to go to is closing, I like to take a trip back even if I hadn't been to that place in years, Woolworths was like that for me, I probably spent more in Woolworths in the last few months of it's existence than I had in the previous 5 years.
After hearing the news that the decision had been made to close the Dunluce Centre at the end of the 2013 summer season, I decided to revisit the centre on one of my nostalgia trips.
Portrush and the surrounding area is one of the tourist capitals of Northern Ireland. Each year thousands of people flock to the North Coast for the amazing scenery and gorgeous beaches, and there are other attractions as well for those not so hot sunny days.
The Dunluce Centre opened its doors in 1993 and it was designed as a wet weather venue for tourists in the Portrush area. The attractions are aimed towards children's entertainment, which is the reason why I hadn't been there in years. I am an adult (physically anyway!) and I don't have children, so there wasn't much there for me. The Dunluce Centre is located on the main road into Portrush. It's hard to miss the bright white building and the viewing tower high above it.
I was 12 when the attraction opened, but having a younger brother meant that sometimes we had a day out in Portrush and occasionally the Dunluce Centre was on the list of places to visit. I always loved the turbo towers ride, although from memory it was always quite expensive, so it was an occasional treat. I also remember there being a more educational area in the centre, which aimed to educate you about the history of pirates in the area, but having had no interest in pirates I was never that keen on that area.
Back to the Dunluce Centre of today, Turbo Towers is still there, but the other attractions have changed.
There are three main attractions at the Dunluce Centre;
Turbo Towers, as mentioned above, which is a 4D stimulation ride. As you watch the action unfold on the screen, your seat twists and turns along with the action. I remember once being on a stimulation rollercoaster ride when I was younger and the seat moved back and forward and turned to stimulate being on a real roller coaster. The minimum age for this ride is 6, mainly as you have to be able to be strapped into the seat. It was a great idea at the time, and unique, but admittedly Barry's is just down the road where you can pay less to go on a real roller coaster or a similar stimulation ride.
The Dark Light laser drome is a tag game where speed, stealth & accuracy must be matched by initiative, cunning and intellect. You wear a lightweight suit, with illuminated blobs and your opponents aim to shoot you. This is suitable for both children and adults.
The third area is Finn McCoole's Adventure playground. This is named after the fabled giant who, according to Irish mythology, created the Giant's Causeway. This is a 3 storey adventure playground, which is split into two age groups.
Juniors (under 4 years old)
This area has a ball pool, soft foam rockers, a wedge slide and foam steps.
Seniors (Aged 4 - 12 years)
This area has, amongst others, a rope bridge, the largest climbing wall in the area, an obstacle course and tumble steps.
There is also the viewing tower which gives spectacular views over the town and the ocean beyond, as well as a gift shop, a cafe and a tourist information centre in the complex.
I can understand why the centre hasn't been as popular as in the past. There is a slightly dated feel to the complex and its attractions, and also the price means it's not a cheap day out. The location of the centre on the outskirts of the town, while handy for those who have driven to Portrush, it is slightly alienated, and many people would gravitate towards the town centre. Given the choice, most children would choose an afternoon at Barry's over an afternoon on Turbo Tours at the Dunluce Centre.
As the centre is scheduled to close at the end of September, unless you have plans to visit over the summer, it'll be too late. Though I know the council are hoping that there may be a buyer/tenant that will keep the complex open, and maybe update some of the attractions. I hope there is something to save the Dunluce Centre, Portrush has enough boarded up shops and derelict properties, without this building becoming a giant eyesore as you come into the town.
Prices for the centre are as follows:
Turbo Tours £4.75pp
Finn McCool's £4.75pp
Laser Drome £4.75pp
Two Attraction Ticket £8.00pp
Three Attraction Ticket = £9.00pp
See http://www.darklight.co.uk/ for information on the Lasertag and http://www.dunlucecentre.co.uk/index.htm for information on the centre.