I went to the brand new Gruffalo attraction in the UK with all the characters and live dance parties – my kids loved it
“Oh no, too slow, Gruffalo,” laughs my little boy, pleased with his own gag.
Watching my cheeky three-rodent give the gruffalo a high five only to then let his new furry friend’s paw down is just the kind of magical moment Merlin wants to conjure up at his new Blackpool attraction.
We were invited to join former Corrie actress Helen Flanagan, fresh off her appearance on I’m A Celebrity South Africa, and her two-year-old son, Charlie, for the grand opening of the Gruffalo & Friends Clubhouse.
It is in the same building as Sea Life, a stone’s throw from Blackpool Tower.
The indoor playground for children under the age of ten brings six of the stories by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler to life.
Little ones have their own soft play area, Room On The Broom, while anyone with sensory needs can relax in the Gruffalo Kid’s Den.
There’s even a Snail and the Whale ball pool inspired by ocean waves.
The main attraction, however, is the Deep Dark Wood adventure play area, where little bookworms can climb, crawl and slide while listening to well-loved lines from the fairy tale.
Personally, I’m a fan of lots of natural light when it comes to indoor play areas, but I don’t think that was intended when it came to recreating the forest where the Gruffalo lives. Instead, there are plenty of ways to create the right atmosphere with light and sound effects.
My little boy most enjoyed finding his rhythm at the live dance party with songs inspired by the animals encountering the Gruffalo before meeting and greeting characters like Zog and the street rat.
And while the kids let off steam there are plenty of comfy chairs for weary parents who need a coffee and a break from the bright lights of Blackpool.
Bubbling light tubes and soft stone-shaped cushions in the Gruffalo Child sensory room welcome visitors who might benefit from a soothing space, and there are plans for a quiet hour so guests with special needs can also enjoy the attraction.
And a baby-changing toilet with extra space, an elevator, and an adult-sized changing table adds to the few places in the seaside town that are suitable for those who need assistance using the toilet.
Helen tells me she’s just glad her family can visit the Gruffalo and his friends right on their doorstep, instead of heading south to places like Warwick Castle, where Zog is currently taking place, or Chessington World of Adventures.
There is so much to do throughout the day at the Gruffalo Clubhouse to keep little ones active, but while you’re in this corner of the woods is also Peter Rabbit Play and Explore, an indoor attraction that opened just last year , worth a visit.
On the way home my little one didn’t even make it out of Blackpool when he was already shot in the back of the car with his new stuffed animal.
There couldn’t be a bigger round of applause for the new Gruffalo attraction.
- The Gruffalo indoor play area costs from £12 per child aged 3-12 and £4.50 for adults or infants aged 1-2. Or purchase a package that gives you access to more than one of the seven Merlin oceanfront attractions. See gruffaloclubhouse.com.