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Blackgang Chine (Isle of White)
Member Name: savvyshopper6476
Blackgang Chine (Isle of White)
Date: 22/02/11, updated on 22/02/11 (71 review reads)
Advantages: Great attractions for younger children (pre teens)
Disadvantages: Teenagers will be bored, the park needs updating
When I first visited Blackgang Chine it was way back in 199...er, well who cares, I was just a little girl no more than about ten or eleven on a family summer holiday to the Isle Of Wight and although we visited other attractions on the island this was the one that always stood out with the fondest memories. Tales of pirates and shipwrecks, windimg paths around the cliffs and the odd goblin, fairy or dinosaur to encounter along the way. It was a different type of theme park, one that was far more interesting and enchanting than the likes of Alton Towers which I also visited as a child but was somewhat borded by due to hight restrictions on the rides preventing me from living out my day at a theme park in full. Now although I had returned to the island on countless ocassions I had never actually returned to Blackgang Chine and so when myself and the hubby took our children for a week long break to the isle Of Wight it was compulsary that we visited Blackgang, not just so our children could experience that same excitement we had on our first visits but also for us to take a trip down memory lane and see if "the chine" still held onto all that mystery it had all those years ago!
Isle Of Wight:
Located in the English Channel approximately four miles from the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. A popular tourist destination, the island is separated from England in an area of water called the Solent. The Isle Of Wight is host to several large festivals including; Isle Of Wight festival (an annual music event, held in June with performances from top names from the music industry), Cowes Week (held in August, the world longest running regular regatta provides magnificent displays of all mannor of boats, yatchts and the like as they race around The Solent in this week long event) and The IOW Garlic Festival (a world famous festival boasting over 300 stalls and attractions all dedicated to garlic!). The island is well known for beautiful coast line, beaches, chocolate box cottages and ever disappearing roads. Rich in history the island even documents residents and events in the Doomsday book.
Located approximately six miles south of Ventor and just a couple of miles from the pretty village of Niton on the southern tip of the Isle Of Wight the village. Allegedly Blackgang is an island term, for a dark path or track and a chine is a steep sided river valley where a river flows through coastal cliffs to the sea although the chine has long since vanished. The area has been synonymous with pirates and smugglers for hundreds of years and has been the scence of hundreds of ship wrecks.
The amusement park was first opened in 1843 by Alexander Dabell and remains to this day a family concern. Due to it's location on the steep cliff side many areas of the park has succombed to several landslides and many of the attractions have had to be relocated or closed for safety.
The Amusement Park:
The park can be in no way compared of that of a modern day theme park with dazzling rides and ultra modern attractions using the highest forms of technology available. The park itself reaks of old victorian charm. Most of the attractions (with the exceptions of a few newer ones) are really quite old, infact most of the attractions were quite familiar to me, especially the models of the dinosaurs and puppets that even some twenty years or so since the last time I saw them hadnt really changed that much. On arriving at the main gates of the park you are greeted by whats got to be a forty foot or so giant pirate whom has stood guard of the park since I was a child and long before, a welcoming sight and one that would make for a great family photos (if you managed to fit his whole body in!)
The park had and still does have a really quirky feel to it almost as if you are stepping back in time with attractions like the funny mirrors, crooked house and musical pet shop where you are greeted by an array of animated musical animals. Cliff paths lead you through the park providing stunning coastal views and on a clear day a view of Alum Bay lighthouse but just keep an eye out for the hungry dinosaurs that are lurking in the bushes and scrubbery! Smugglers Cave, a walk through story attraction provides the children with more animated puppets who relay the story of a famous ship wreck, they are just as I remembered them to be, quirky, a little bizzarre and just a bit old and dusty round the edges which adds to the parks rustic charm.
There is plenty to keep small children occupied in fantasyland, complete with castle to explore and frontier town taking you into the wild west with all of the old "seaside" attractions for photographs including those picture boards you pop your head through and horses (not real) that you can mount. An adventure playground provides a welcome rest stop while the younger members get time to wear thmselves out on the climbing frames or even explore a full size pirate ship. There are plenty of picnic tables and seats and food outlets that cater for most ages including La Cantina for burgers and chips or the Shipashore Tea Rooms for the yummy cream teas or a traditional pub style meal.
Other attractions include a rollercoaster called Cliffhanger, not the most exciting reaching speeds of around 35mph but a good way of introducing the younger members of the family to coasters. For those who have experienced the likes of Alton Towers, Chessington or even Universal Studios this wont even come close but is none the less fun. There is also a water ride, fun and cool relief on a hot day and pirate's Barrell. There are many other places within the park to explore, far too many to list but for light relief you could try the giant hedge maize or chocolate heaven!
The park provides all the rustic charm of an old Victorian theme park. For older members who have visited before like me and my hubby you will enjoy the cliff top walk down memory lane because I guarantee that almost all of the original attractions are there. Younger members will have plenty of fun too but the lack of technology and fast paced rides combined with old and somewhat antiquated attractions (particulary the puppets) will bore teenagers.
The park is deceptively big. We arrived soon after opening (10am) and scouted the park map to choose our attractions to maximise the days activities and although we thought we would rush through them it did take us most of the day that said I am not sure I could personally visit the park for two days in succession I think even I would get bored. The park is beautiful but it is old. That rustic charm (in my opinion) could fade pretty quickly, how long will people pay good money to visit dusty old attractions. The attractions, lovelly and antique as they are need serious updating, a lick of paint and some technical attention. It is not enough to simply add new ones to the collection they need to maintain the ones they have got. On our trip some of the animated puppets were not working at all.
Overall my trip down memory lane was nice. The park was as I remembered but along with the eccentric charm it feels a bit dated, a bit tired and a bit unloved which is a shame because I hold such great memories of it. For those that have visited before the charm might appeal but for new visitors I cant help thinking you will leave feeling you have been robbed of a few quid. Nostalgia was nice but at nearly £40 for the four of us it was not good value for money. I have now removed my rose tinited glasses and I see Blackgang for what it is, a beautiful park with dusty outdated attractions. I wonder how long the park can survive without paying some closer attention to what draws the paying guests in in the first place. It would perhaps be kinder if a landslip saved it from a slow painful death.
I would reccommend anyone to go with small children, probably up to ten or eleven as there is plenty to keep them amused and they dont really notice that its dated but if you have teenagers i would give it a miss altogether. We had a lovelly day out but when we go back to the island we probably wont bother coming back to Blackgang because I just feel you can get better value else where for around the same price. The price of a family ticket is now £39.00 and then you have your refreshments and food to purchase on top (we took a picnic yet still managed to buy food at the restaurant later in the afternoon because it is such a long day) the park just doesnt seem worth it.
The park opens from 10am - 6pm (and you will need a whole day to get around it)
Tickets are priced at £39.00 for four persons. £10.50 per person (aged 4-59) or £8.50 (seniors and disabled)
How To Get To The Island:
By plane from Bournmouth, Southampton and Gatwick or by Car using either Wightlink or Redfunnel ferries
By foot on either Wightlink or Redfunnel ferries or Hovertravel. Train using services operated by Southwest Trains
By coach using National Express, Greyhound or localised companies offering day trips
Redfunnel ferries operate from Southampton to East Cowes and Wightlink operate from Lymington to Yarmouth and Portsmouth to Fishbourne or Ryde and all offer a footpassenger service.
We always take the Wightlink ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth by car because our route takes us through the new forest and although adds around half hour extra to our journey it is a much prettier route.
Summary: A perfectly nice day out but there are better attractions
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