19 July to 31 August 2014
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
Yesterday I went along with three excited youngsters (not to mention adults) to sample Barney Bear’s Beach at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Ideally situated in Barton Square right in front of both Legoland and Sea Life we parked easily and went to find it. There are no sign posts indicating where it is so I feel if you don’t know the intu Trafford Centre you might have trouble finding it. As we are pretty local we knew which way to head and found it no problem.
The flyer states it is open Mon – Sat from 10 until 7 and Sun 11 – 6 but I noticed on at least a couple of the rides it said open until 8 so I would check before visiting if you are going early evening. This fantastic little gem runs right through August and is ideal for a family day out.
As the day had started out with torrential rain I think it might have put people of visiting yesterday which for us was a bonus as it wasn’t crowded and it kept the queues to a minimum. By the afternoon the sun was shining as we made our way to the beach first. It was smaller than I expected and would assume on a hot weekend you would have trouble finding a space to dig, but yesterday was perfect. Deckchairs and buckets and spades are provided which is an excellent idea. Our smaller members of the party picked some up no problem and we only waited a short while for some chairs to come vacant. There were lots of youngsters ranging from 0-12 years playing happily in the clean sand and we enjoyed watching them all. The beach area and facilities are all free of charge.
There are five rides, Barney’s Balloons is advertised but not there! We made our way to the Swing Boats (£2.50) for our first ride, all ages are welcome to have a go. My sister, 36, and our little ones 4 (yesterday), 9 and 11 really enjoyed this old fashioned seaside ride, pulling the ropes to go higher. There is also a magnificent Victorian carousel (£2.50) we all rode this including my mum who is 65! The Wurlitzer playing is a lovely touch and made us giggle as the tunes range from Mary Poppins “A Spoonful of Sugar” to Elvis Presley’s “Wooden Heart”, Abba’s “Mama Mia” and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”. The highlight of the visit was Walk on Water (£5), huge plastic balls you enter when flat, they then inflate them while you are in there and roll you out onto the water. Here it was what I can only describe as an enormous paddling pool. There are height/age/weight restrictions in place and our children were suitable to use them. There are four balls and two supervisors so it is very safe. The lads spin the balls and everybody had a ball in these – so much so that they queued up another twice to have ago again. Bailey’s favourite ride was the Aqua Boats (£2.50), I would describe them as bumper cars on water. They are suitable for toddlers and again are very safe with a supervisor in waders on hand throughout. Bungee jump trampoline(£4) is the last ride there are 4 placed together and two girls strapping everybody in, the children loved bouncing up and down and being dare devils all the time knowing they would not go flying(excuse the pun) as the bungee part protected them as well as giving them more height.
We then went to sample the delights of Wakiki Grill a beach hut in the middle of the attraction. There are plenty of bbq favourites to choose from; burgers, hot dogs, chicken, sausages chips and some really yummy curly fries. Between us we tried all the fore mentioned meals and all were served hot, well-presented and tasted great. I love fried onions and was pleasantly surprised to find you got a huge helping. Everybody agreed that the Wakiki Grill served superb bbq food. We also had mixed slushes which were just the right consistency. Prices were reasonable (£4 for a gourmet cheeseburger which was meaty and cooked to perfection) and the Hut was clean with friendly staff.
After filling our tummies it was back to the beach for more sandcastles and then another ride on the aqua boats and carousel before heading home. We spent over five hours here but you could easily stay all day. All the staff were friendly and helpful and the area is set out well clean and tidy. My family had an excellent time and the littlest member cried when it was time to leave so I guess that speaks volumes.
I would recommend Barney Bear’s Beach to shoppers and day trippers alike. On Thursday’s they have special events ranging from Punch and Judy, stilt walkers and brass bands and Tuesday’s Barney Bear himself visits so I think we will be back for these events sometime this month.
A great attraction 5/5. Well done intu Trafford Centre and thank you.
For more information visit www.intu.co.uk/traffordcentre/event/barney-bear-s-beach.