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Lancashire has got so much to offer families in terms of fantastic days out and one of our favourite places to take our toddler is Blackpool.
Blackpool is one of those seaside towns that’s a little rough around the edges, but these edges are invisible to our toddler who only sees the flashing lights, huge amount of sugar on offer and the multitude of crazy transport available: trains that run on the street (he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of trams yet!), donkeys on the beach and horse and carriages on the road!
One of our favourite places to visit within Blackpool is Coral Island. I’ve been coming to Coral Island since I was a little girl, who loved being brought to Blackpool on short weekend breaks away for a bit of sun, sea, sand and amusement arcades.
What is Coral Island?
Coral Island is Blackpool’s largest indoor free admission family attraction which is open 10am ’til midnight every day. Located on Blackpool’s promenade, a few metres down the road from Blackpool Tower on the left, and the SEA Life Centre on the right, Central Pier is located nearly opposite it too. You couldn’t get a place that’s anymore central in Blackpool and it’s handy for two huge car parks too: Bonny Street and Central.
Inside Coral Island, Blackpool there is a world of fun waiting for kiddies and adults alike, and once we’d arrived, we couldn’t wait to explore!
What’s Inside Coral Island?
If you like amusement arcades, then you’re gonna LOVE Coral Island. There is every single game and ride imaginable. Travelling with one toddler and one newborn baby, we stuck to the stuff we could all do as a family and this is what we got up to:
These machines are a toddler’s dream! Simply change a couple of quid into two pences and you’ve got hours of fun! We had three tubs and no matter how many coins we put in, we kept on winning! I think we walked away with about six key rings in the end and we were doing all we could to desperately get rid of the copper!
My favourite game, although I let the side down this time by not winning. (It’s not as easy when you have a baby strapped to you!)
The aim of the game is to roll your balls into the ball shaped slots and each time you do, your camel moves along a little bit. Whoever gets their camel to the finish line first wins! Neil managed to win a game and got a lovely lion teddy for Dex to take home.
It took a lot of persuasion but we finally got Dexter on the Pirate Flyer. He really enjoyed waving to the passengers who were flying over our heads while we were in the arcade, but each time we asked him if he wanted to have a go, he cried! Once we were on it he was loving every second and it was great to view Coral Island from above. The ride takes about five minutes in total and as well as taking in the views of the arcade, it meanders through dark tunnels filled with pirates and treasures!
There’s a huge range of ride-ons throughout Coral Island and of course Lightening McQueen was Dexter’s favourite!
We had no luck with the grabby machines, but it didn’t stop us trying! I remember my Mum used to be really skilled at getting me the toys I wanted when I was little! It’s only 30p a go as well.
Family bingo is my idea of fun because I love playing bingo and it’s also great practise for Dexter and his numbers. I was really disappointed that despite being marketed as family bingo, it’s just a load of computers being used by middle aged ladies who want to play fast and hard. I could barely keep up with the numbers, let alone a toddler and our credit disappeared very quickly without really knowing what was going on. Oh well! If you love playing online bingo, then you’ll love this area of Coral Island, sadly it wasn’t for us.
There’s even more stuff that we didn’t manage to check out such as a Ghost Train (bit too scary for Dex), over 18 slot machines and VR rides.
How Does the Prize Ticket System Work?
Most machines will give you tickets at the end of the game if you have scored high enough. The higher the score, the more tickets you get. For example, we played on a machine that gave you a one minute countdown and you had to throw balls at the clowns that popped up. At the end, out came about 30 tickets.
At the end of your time in Coral Island, you take your tickets to one of the special machines located near the Prize Shop and it converts them into a paper ticket showing how many you have. You then take this paper ticket to the Prize Shop and claim whatever prize you like (as long as you have enough credits!) Dexter has his eye on a huge remote controlled toy car that was 12,000 tickets, but I’m afraid we left with only 500 or so. However, we know we will be back again, so will save them for next time!
What is There to Eat at Coral Island?
There’s a huge range of restaurants at Coral Island including The Buccaneer, Captain Jack’s Bar and Grill, Peggy’s Snack Bar and fish and chips at the Prom Chippy or traditional restaurant located on Bonnie Street. The best bit? Kids eat free in all of Coral Island’s restaurants!
We had lunch at The Buccaneer which is a family friendly pub and restaurant located at the heart of Coral Island, offering traditional pub grub at excellent prices. The meal we had was worth a whole blog post in itself:
Related Post: Review: The Buccaneer, Coral Island, Blackpool | AD
We also had a quick snack and drink in Peggy’s Snack Bar where we were greeted by friendly staff and a wide range of food to choose from.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
There are clean toilets with plenty of cubicles available for both men and women. If you need disabled access toilets or baby change you can find these in Peggy’s Snack Bar and in The Buccaneer. I changed Felix in Peggy’s Snack Bar and found the toilet to be lovely and clean and spacious too.
There is free WiFi throughout Coral Island. To connect you simply select Coral Island Free WiFi from the list and you can log in by either entering your email or via Facebook.
If you have any problems or see something isn’t right, there are plenty of security staff on hand to help. My husband noticed a little boy was wondering around looking a bit lost and before he could do anything, two security men had seen he was a bit bewildered and helped him find his Mum and Dad. Really reassuring when you have little ones who tend to run off!
There’s plenty of parking nearby and we parked in Central car park which costs £7.50 for the day. You can pay via cash, card or your phone. It’s pay and display.
Anything You Need to Bear in Mind?
From the moment you arrive, Coral Island is an attack on the senses, so be prepared if you’re visiting with anyone who has any sort of sensory issues. We managed about twenty minutes before Dexter broke down crying, but couldn’t explain what the problem was. I whisked him off to Peggy’s Snack Bar for a drink and a sit in the peace and quiet and after about ten minutes, he had calmed down enough to go back in. We made sure after this we took regular breaks by popping outside or heading to one of the many eateries for a quick drink and chill out.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you are gonna need plenty of cash! There are ATMs inside if you find yourself short and plenty of change booths to change your notes into small denominations. Most rides and games cost £1 each, although there is of course the 10p and 2p slots too. It can get quite addictive trying to win as many tickets as possible to claim a prize, so it’s probably best to set yourself a budget, so you don’t go too crazy!
Anywhere Good to Stay Nearby?
Blackpool is jam packed full of hotels and bed and breakfasts and all at a very reasonable price too. Some of our favourites include:
Our Overall Thoughts
I’m still a massive fan of Coral Island, Blackpool and it’s definitely a place we will visit time and time again. Aside from the overwhelm at the beginning, Dexter had an amazing day and has been reluctant to take off his Coral Island badge and hat since we’ve been back. I’m really looking forward to visiting Blackpool again in the summer and no doubt as soon as we see the Parrot on Coral Island’s roof, Dex will be shouting to go inside.