Last weekend we were invited to Dreamland Margate for a family rave up with Big Fish Little Fish Events, and we were also allowed in to the park itself.
The event was held in The Ballroom at Dreamland, which is available for private hire, plus I've found out they're holding the local X Factor auditions there on the 28th April! It's a spacious room with high ceilings, toilet facilities and a licensed bar, plus there was a large (free) cloakroom that doubled as a buggy park, which significantly reduced the stress levels, especially as you could go in and out when you wanted. The staff were present but unobtrusive. The invite said it was a nautical theme, so we went as: a Pirate (William), a Mermaid (Phoebe), a Cross-channel Swimmer (Daniel), The Sea (Me) and a fisherman (DH - basically his own clothes!) It felt like a giant children's party with the music catered for the adults and alcohol! Set out around the room were a long arts and craft table where they could make pirate hats, boats and flags; a playdough table, a temporary pirate-ey tattoo station (no extra charge), a colouring wall with pens and pencils, mats, a corner for younger ravers with a ball pool and tunnels, there was a visit from some scary (to some) big people, a giant balloon and a parachute. Oh, and glow sticks a plenty, but just for the kids (aw). Periodically there was a lady with an excellent bubble machine (kids love bubbles) and she would also shoot out glitter cannons! Here are my photos with our favourite moments from the rave:
Every picture I took of Daniel (and I took a lot) were either blurry because he was moving constantly or they're of his back! He loved it, he was exploring everywhere, dancing, stealing drinks, playing - basically the same as me on a night out, minus the pooping the pants part.
Glitter snow angels - brilliant idea by Phoebe!
Relaxing afterwards with our free milkshake! It's 2 hours long which is just about right. I loved the music and atmosphere. We're no strangers to family raving, we've tried before at The Ministry of Sound, but this one had a better vibe, music and more inclusive activites. The music was seamless, whereas the other one kept stopping and starting and they had different rooms which didn't flow very well.
As for the park itself, It was a wet and windy April day, so we were a little apprehensive, it was the tail end of the Easter holidays for us, we'd just got back from Pontins the day before. Dreamland is an old fashioned fairground and arcade with a roller disco and a retro feel, based in the seaside town of Margate, Kent. For some reason I thought it was by the sea, but it isn't, it's nearby, but surrounded by a rather bleak carpark and tower blocks! They had a pirate and mermaid theme on during Easter and promised a treasure hunt, Pirate and Mermaid school. There wasn't any information about it when we arrived, just a closed hut saying mermaid school - it was raining though and that was outside! When we got in, there was a tent up with the promise of a treasure hunt but I bypassed it as we didn't fancy trawling about in the rain, such a shame. I did see a pirate at the pirate school but again, it was outside. We braved the carousel, but got a bit wet from the backlash of rain from the roof! I love fairgrounds and so do the kids, we can't help but get excited - there is a large indoor area with arcades and a cafe and roller disco, but we really wanted to try the rides! I persuaded them to go on the motorbike ride.
My children were a bit scared, paricularly Phoebe, she cried the whole way round, even though we were together in a chariot. William went on it again with Daddy though so it can't have been all bad. The food court was excellent, different choices of food with a central seating area, a stage all looking rather quaint in a vintage style, I can see it being lovely in the sun. I had a 'healthy' sandwich while the kids had fish and chips and DH had a Thai curry.
The scenic railway was a bit hit and miss when we were there, we queued up for ages whilst it wasn't working, then it was working and the boys went on, then I went on with the children, then they wanted to go again so DH went on and waited for ages and was then told it wasn't working again. It was a fun rollercoaster for kids but it did put us off the waiting and the thought that it might break down on us going round! The minimum height is 1.4m for this ride and it is fun when you get to go on it. Scenery - not so much.
They had a lovely section for younger kiddies, with this double decker carousel, swing boats, wooden buses and trucks which the younger ones loved and spent ages at (especially whilst the others were waiting around for the scenic railway!) The staff were friendly and helpful. Our favourite ride was the dodgems of course and there was a mirror maze which amazed and delighted everyone, although William got a little concerned later about the thought of not being able to get out!
All in all a great day out, I may go back when the weather's better - they originally said the park would be open until 9pm but then backtracked and said they were closing at 6.30 due to the weather. We didn't mind as we'd done all we wanted to and were rather cold! A weary party returned home happy.
Big Fish Little Fish Star rating:
Dreamland park rating:
If you're interested in going to a Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave, they have events running from Bristol to Edinburgh, under 1s go free, adults are £8.50, children £5.50.
Disclosure: I was gifted the tickets to Dreamland and the rave for the purposes of this review, all opinions are my own.
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