Thursday 1 November 2012

A Fun Filled Family Day Out at Hollywood Bowl...

I've always loved bowling, it's a great family activity and one that I remember enjoying from a young age. We first took Ben while at Centerparcs when he was just one and although he mainly watched on that occasion, he loved the whole atmosphere and it wasn't long before we returned and he played himself, with a little help of course!

So when we were offered the chance to visit Hollywood Bowl in Manchester for a VIP family Bowling experience, I couldn't say no. As both myself and Mr MMP work full time, we like to make the most of our weekends together as a family and always try to fit in some quality time around the housework and errands that need to be done. Most of the time that means something free such as a trip to the park, walk in the woods or a board game at home but when we can we like to save up some pennies and spend it on a family treat! Bowling is ideal in the winter months as you stay warm and dry while having fun!

We arranged to visit on Saturday afternoon, and being the weekend at the end of half term it was rather busy when we got there but as we had booked beforehand (which I would recommend doing if you're planning to visit at the weekend or in school holidays) our lane was ready for us and we didn't have to wait.

But before we could start playing we had to change into the 'oh so snazzy' bowling shoes! Elizabeth has tiny feet for her age and at almost two she's still only a size 4, unfortunately they only had bowling shoes starting from a size 6, but with them being velcro fastenings they weren't too bad. As it was a busy time and there were quite a few children's parties in, many with children around Ben's age, they didn't have his size either but again a size above with the velcro fastened tightly did the job. Myself and hubby were more easily served (even with his huge size elevens!) and soon we were all 'booted up!'

When we got to the lane, it was really easy to set up or our game and I really liked that the 'bumpers' were motorised and controlled by the computer system so you could choose which players to  have them up for. A simple thing but it means that adults and children can play together at their own skill levels. I will sound like an 'oldie' saying this, but 'they didn't have that in my day!' I remember when bowling as a child, the bumpers consisted of foam tubes that you either had or you didn't and that was that.

So we were all set up and ready to go! We all had great fun as you can see from the pictures, and Daddy got quite competitive  towards the end when he realised Ben was beating him! Although he stopped sulking when he finally got a strike!

Younger children are well catered for with a metal ramp, so they can simply push the ball down it and don't  have to lift something that weighs almost as much as them! Elizabeth found this really easy and seemed amazed at how quickly her pretty pink ball zoomed down the lane! Ben used the ramp on some goes but also bowled 'properly' on others, copying Daddy.

The staff were really attentive and regularly came to check if we needed anything. There was also a 'call button' in case you needed anything when the lovely staff were not nearby.

Food and drink could be served direct to the lane or if  preferred could be enjoyed in the Diner or for more 'bistro style food' the Bar.

We decided to eat at our lane and as part of our experience were provided with a family platter which consisted of a jug of soft drink, a rather large plate of fries and a choice o f burgers or hotdogs, (As am I a fussy vegetarian they kindly included a veggie burger in this for me). The whole selection was a bargain at just £10 to feed a family of four. Now this is not the type of food my children usually eat at all but as a one off treat I thought it would do no harm and I have to say they thoroughly enjoyed it! I just hope they don't start expecting chips on a regular basis now! If however you prefer something else the menu choice was quite varied. The food, drink, straws and serviettes were all kindly served to us on lane by the attentive staff, while we continued to enjoy our game.

We had a great time playing our two games and Ben came out victorious in both, while I came last, beaten even by my not even two year old daughter! (I think the bumpers may have helped, maybe I should have them up next time!)

The two games were plenty for us and by the end, Elizabeth was getting tired (and a little grumpy!) but if we had wanted to extend our visit there was a good sized amusement arcade with games aimed at all ages.

While we were there I did need to change Elizabeth's nappy and found the 'baby changing room', although small and basic, to be clean and it for purpose.

All in all we had a really great, fun filled family day out, which was enhanced by the helpful and friendly staff. Hollywood Bowl really does cater for the whole family and at £32 for a family of four to enjoy 2 games of bowling each is not a bad price for an occasional treat. It's also worth checking out the website for special offers at your local branch.

Disclaimer: we were provided with 2 games of bowling and food for our family free of charge but all views and opinions are my own

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