“ Address: Fort Fun / Royal Parade / Eastbourne BN22 7LQ / East Sussex / Tel: 01323 642833 „
Fort Fun is a small family fun park located right next door to the beach, towards the Sovereign Harbour end . Getting here from the centre of Eastbourne is very easy - although it is quite some walk from the pier, especially for younger children, you can get buses and the dotto train which go past very frequently. There is a pay and display car park directly in front of Fort Fun for drivers also.
It's a bit of a 3-in-1 job. Not only is there an indoor soft play area, but there is also a small selection of rides, and an aqua fun park. You can purchase a ticket for one area, or for all three together. You also have the option of just purchasing tokens for the rides . However, I think the 3-in-1 pass, which is 16.99 per child, and 11.99 for adults or children under 1 metre, offers the best value . Purchasing a wristband for adults is optional - if you merely wish to supervise your children whilst they enjoy themselves, you are perfectly able to do so, and I opted just to let my daughter have fun, though I did have to pay £1 for access into the aqua park bit of the amusement. If going for this option, you'll be given a wristband, and you are allowed to leave (if, for example, you want to go chill on the beach for a picnic) and then come back.
Entry is through a large gift shop - nothing too amazing here, mostly just the kind of toys you can pick up in any pound shop. They do however sell swimming costumes and sun screen, which I think is excellent in case you forget. Towel hire is available for the aqua splash, costing £2 (£10 deposit required).
Then, you'll enter into the building properly - there is an amusement arcade with claw grabbers and penny fall machines, and a cafe where you can order food (I have never personally eaten here, but I do know that ordering is done at the counter, with customers then being presented with a numbered ticket that is called out when food is ready.) From what I recall, the food is standard junk food - burgers, hot dogs, and nuggets, and was a little overpriced in my estimation. I have once had a cup of tea, and they committed the offence of serving it in a polystyrene cup!
The soft play area is gated, with a pad to open the gate fairly high up. I like this, as it is fairly secure . The soft play runs along the left hand wall, seating and tables along the right hand side, where you are able to eat and drink . There is a small soft play area for younger children, complete with cosy coupe cars, small foam climbing blocks, and a ball pool, and a much larger play area for older children
, with plenty of things to climb on and swing from . Parents must supervise children at all times, though I was pleased to note there were also staff in both soft play areas making sure children behaved themselves, and that things were kept clean and tidy. All the equipment seemed to be in very good clean condition, and my daughter had great fun climbing, sliding, and throwing the balls .
The rides in the outdoor area are mini versions of the stuff you would find at theme parks - a childrens rollercoaster, dodgems, waltzers, small boats, digger area, a tower drop, tea cups, swing balloons, and a merry go round . With the all in one wristband, you could go round the rides as many times as you want. My daughter particularly enjoyed the roller coaster, and went round on that one about six times . All the rides are well staffed, and have safety belts in place. The rides don't operate in rainy weather though.
The bit my daughter enjoyed the most was the Aqua Splash park. She loved it - a large climbing frame, with three slides of various steepness, leading into a large paddling pool - deep enough to get nice and wet, but not so deep that children not confident in swimming would be scared. The highlight of this part was the various tipping buckets - there were plenty of tiny ones, but also one huge one that must easily have held at least 50 gallons . It took ages for this bucket to fill from the tap above it, but when it did it would tip, drenching anybody in the vicinity . Again, I was reassured that there were plenty of staff - one on the frame itself, another on the edges of the pool, and another in the hut .
All the outdoor areas have plenty of seating, and whilst inside you are only allowed to eat food purchased at the cafe, you are able to have picnics outside . There were also plenty of bins for rubbish, clean and tidy changing rooms, and the whole are was tidy and presentable outdoors, with no litter on the floor.
However, the toilets inside were a bit of a sorry state - the floors were wet, the sinks were piled with wet tissue at the sides, and one of the two hand-dryers didn't work.
It was quite busy when we visited, but I was pleased that unlike similar attractions (Monkey Bizness) the soft play area did not get overcrowded. Overall, it was a fun day out, we spent the whole day there, only stopping for an hour to go eat our picnic on the beach. 5 stars!
For full prices visit : http://www.fortfun.co.uk/index.htm . I have not included full pricing information in the review as there are so many various options!