Butlin’s new SkyPark, a playground so amped up it feels as if it’s landed from the future, has plunged me right back into a forgotten parenting phase.
Under an arching, almost blue Skegness sky, I am a human coat-stand on the periphery of the fun, being served shady terms on a ‘Just one more go, please Mum’ deal.
It’s not a toddler I’m negotiating with though, it’s a tween. Belle, 11, is already a little too gangly and definitely too cool to be in any other sort of playground, but this £2.5 million extravaganza is so sparky she can’t resist. Bar a brief return for a slug of water, I haven’t seen her sister, Cleo, nine, for an hour.
Unveiled this spring, SkyPark is an inventive, creative and inclusive take on a centuries-old blueprint, introduced at its entrance by giant Hollywood-esque letters.
From a trio of soaring rocket towers — with gleaming light-up-inside metal tube slides — to the UK’s longest seesaw (at 24 metres!), it’s all deeply hypnotic to the under-12 age group.
Joanna Tweedy and her family visit SkyPark, the ‘amped up’ new playground at Butlin’s Skegness
The playground is home to a trio of soaring rocket towers with gleaming light-up-inside metal tube slides
The attraction is introduced at its entrance by ‘giant Hollywood-esque letters’, Joanna notes
Many UK attractions for children are still frustratingly ableist, but SkyPark comes with calmer zones, clever sensory elements and wheelchair-friendly access.
After dark — it’s open until 10pm in the school holidays — SkyPark is flooded with colourful light; streams of neon fire around the attractions, blending in perfectly with Lincolnshire’s mini-Vegas seaside skyline just beyond it.
Butlin’s three UK sites, Skegness, Minehead and Bognor Regis, now firmly rival Center Parcs for the UK holiday park dollar, thanks to investment in recent years, keeping founder Sir Billy Butlin’s original vision buoyant in the 21st century.
In 2019, a new £40 million Art Deco-style Splash pool complex opened in Bognor, and household names including ITV’s Stephen Mulhern are on the bill this summer and next.
‘Many UK attractions for children are still frustratingly ableist, but SkyPark comes with calmer zones, clever sensory elements and wheelchair-friendly access,’ writes Joanna
Joanna describes Skegness (above) as ‘Lincolnshire’s mini-Vegas’. The town’s Butlin’s opened in 1936
A three-night stay for four people in a two-bedroom Silver Room (above) at Butlin’s Skegness costs £104 per person
Butlin’s Skegness, opened in 1936 and our modern-day accommodation, a two-bed, self-catering apartment, tips its hat to vintage kiss-me-quick humour and the weekend passes in a whirl of activity. We hurtle down Vortex, a 60ft winding slide in the 3,000 sq metre Splash Waterworld that lands you in a giant bowl.
The kids grab their way up the climbing wall, paint pottery, part with hundreds (of 2p pieces) in the arcades and we’re all hooked on the traditional fairground with its pretty carousel, dodgems and, new for this summer, 15m-high drop ride, Orbiter.
A happy exhaustion descends as the drive home looms — Butlin’s does many things but relaxation really isn’t one of them.
A three-night stay for four people in a two-bedroom Silver Room at Butlin’s Skegness costs £104 pp based on August 25 stays. You can call 0330 100 6648 or visit their website, butlins.com.