Newest Review: ... the building! There was also a small soft play area for kids under 1.1m. My kids were too tall to go on it, but it looked clean and we... more
Subtropical Paradise in the Heart of the UK
Member Name: loopy-lou33
Advantages: Lots to do. Great for families. Nice Staff.
Disadvantages: High prices and grime by poolside.
What is it with kids and waterparks? My lot can't get enough of them. When we go on holiday, we have to go to places with a waterpark nearby, and we have enjoyed stays at Center Parcs and Splash landings in the last few years.
Waterworld in Stoke is a place that the kids have been nagging me about for some time. It is a large subtropical waterpark with slides, flumes, wave machines, rapids and all the trimmings. You get the idea. Kids paradise.
I had been reluctant to visit because of the entry price. For the five of us, a family ticket would cost £47.50, which seems a bit pricey for a couple of hours splashing around in a pool. However, I was extremely lucky to win four free tickets in a competition (yay!), which meant I only had to pay entry for one person, which was £10.50 plus the cost of the lockers, which were £1.50 each with a 50p refund if you return the token afterwards.
Getting to Waterworld was a bit of a nightmare. The website explains that it is a 10 minute drive from junction 15 of the M6, which sounds straightforward enough, until you realise that there are no signs from the motorway to show you the way.
After driving down the A500 for five minutes, I spotted a brown sign saying "Festival Park". I remembered that Waterworld was near festival park, so presumed that we had to follow the signs. Unfortunately, we got to a roundabout and the brown signs vanished! My husband shouted a lot.
After driving around lost for a further 10 minutes, we found another brown sign and followed it. "Festival Park" turned out to be a large industrial estate and the Waterworld building was plonked in the middle of it, rather awkwardly. We were just relieved that we had finally found it!
It was a cold November day and we expected the place to be relatively quiet, but the carpark was quite full. We found a space, but I imagine that in the summertime it would be really hard to get on the carpark, as it did not really seem big enough.
The reception area was clean and bright and looked like it had been recently refurbished. It had a smart restaurant area, but there was also a small Subway franchise next door and you could smell a lovely "foody" smell wafting through the building! There was also a small soft play area for kids under 1.1m. My kids were too tall to go on it, but it looked clean and well maintained.
There were no queues at the desk and the staff were welcoming and friendly. A nice young lady called us over to her till and served us straight away. She answered all of my questions and directed us to the changing area.
The changing rooms were unisex and had various sizes of cubicle, including family, disabled and single cubicles. The single cubicles were quite large and I was able to share one with my daughter. The lockers were right next to the cubicles, so we did not have to wander round looking for one.
There was a helpful memeber of staff in the changing rooms who was responsible for keeping the area clean and helping customers with their lockers. She told me that there were lots of large lockers nearer the rear of the changing rooms, which was helpful, as we had lots of stuff between the five of us! A small locker would suit one person, but a large locker would suit up to 4 people.
The locker tokens were reusable, which meant that you could go back to the locker, remove something and then lock it again, which I thought was a good idea, because it meant that you could fetch money or shower gel and then shut the locker again. The token released the key, which was on a band that straps around the wrist. The lockers were a bit old and bashed about, but perfectly serviceable and clean.
The toilets were also clean and serviceable.
The Pool Entrance:
The changing area led directly to the pool. I was surprised that there was no pool of disinfectant to step in. Another thing that surprised me was that there was a restaurant right next to the pool. People could go straight from the water to the restaurant, as it had plastic garden chairs to sit on and I could see people in their swimming clothes eating food. I thought it was a bit odd and guessed that there may have been a high chance of food and debris entering the pool. I did see the odd straw and milk container floating around, but nothing too major. There were also plastic seats all the way around the outside of the pool, perfect for parents who want to sit in the warmth and watch the kids without having to go in the water themselves!
The pool area was lovely and warm and the pool water was also warm. Sometimes, when you go swimming, you can feel really cold when you come out of the water, but the area was so warm that leaving the pool did not make me feel cold.
One of the first things you see when you enter the pool area is a huge bumpy rainbow slide with four lanes, leading into a shallow water area. People of all ages queued to go on the slide, from toddlers with armbands to full grown men. It was really popular, but the queue never got too long. My youngest, aged 7 kept going on it over and over again.
The main pool is themed on a South sea island. there are lots of palm trees and hanging plants and there is a large Tiki-style stone ceterpiece. Strangely, the far wall had a Peter Pan mural, and it seemed that there were also space-themed areas and pirate-themed areas.
There was nowhere to have a traditional lane swim. The main pool was a fun pool, complete with waterfalls and a wave machine that went off at regular intervals. The waves were quite powerful and we had lots of fun trying to sit upright as the waves washed over us.
For younger kids, there is a play area with gentle tube slides and climbing ropes. Again, this was an area that my youngest child spent lots of time in. I was glad that there was a lifeguard in this area, making sure all the young kids were safe and rode the slides properly.
Next to this area, there was an obstacle course for older kids, aged 8 and up. This involved traversing monkey bars across a series of floating lilypads. It was really tricky and lots of the kids were falling off.
Behind the obstacle course, almost tucked out of sight, was the rapids area. I wasn't overly keen on this area as it was very dark and seemed to be full of rowdy teenagers, intent on shoving each other. The current did not seem to be that strong and it was very noisy. All in all, the rapids was my least favourite area of the pool.
Slides and rides:
There were lots of slides, which wound their way around the roof of the pool area. My older kids, aged 9 and 12, headed straight for the flumes and I didn't see much of them after that. The queues for the flumes seemed quite long, but they seemed to get on the rides quite quickly, with minimal waiting times.
The flumes varied in intensity and my kids liked the dark one with the flashing lights. Another favourite was a flume where riders rode on rubber rings.
My son was brave enough to go on the Space bowl ride, which looked quite intimidating to me! To get an idea of what it does, imagine those spiral charity bowls, where you put a coin in and it goes round and round for ages before dropping out of the bottom. Then imagine doing it to a person instead of a coin. After whizzing around the bowl, the swimmers are dropped headlong into a transparent tank of deep water. Not for the fainthearted!
We spent about 2.5 hours in the pool altogether, although families could make a day of it if they wished and camp out in the humid tropical heat for the whole day. In busy periods, the pool operates a rotation system, which means that visitors can stop for a maximum of 3 hours. It was relatively quiet when we visited though, and people could stay for as long as they wanted.
Although the pool has been open for quite a few years, it seemed quite modern and up to date. My only slight gripe was the grime and debris that collected on the poolside area, including the odd sticking plaster, straw and blobs of goodness knows what. I also trod on a few sharp bits in the pool, which wasn't pleasant.
At the end of our visit we got changed, reclaimed our 50p and popped into the Subway next door. the fresh baked smell was too much to resist in the end!
Waterworld is a fun family attraction and is suitable to visit in all weathers. it was a big hit with my kids and I liked the fact that it had attractions for all ages and swimming abilities.
The staff were pleasant and friendly and could not do enough to help. I was really impressed with them.
The changing room was dated and a bit bashed about, but basically clean and tidy.
We had lots of fun and the only real downsides for me were the entry prices and the grime at the poolside.
Waterworld was a real tonic on a dingy November afternoon.
Therfore I give Waterworld 4 stars and I would definitely visit again.
Summary: A weatherproof attraction.