The London Eye with Kids: How to have a Successful Visit

A few years ago, BattleDad and I tried, and failed, to visit the London Eye. We arrived late to the Eye and saw the length of queues and decided to try again another day. Fast forward a few years and I was going to be in London with my sisters for a concert. We had two days to fill, so we settled on a few London attractions including the London Eye. I enjoyed my first ride in it but wondered whether you could enjoy a trip on the London Eye with kids.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

A short few months later, the Battle Family were in London for 36 hours before flying to America, and we decided to visit the London Eye as a family. I wasn’t too sure what BattleKid would make of it, but as it is only a 30-minute revolution, it should have been short enough for even him. I prebooked our tickets online to save any hassles and printed out our Flexi Fast Track before we left for London.

The Flexi Fast Track tickets meant we could visit at any time during the day on our chosen date and we would join the fast track queue. So, after a yummy breakfast in a café around the corner from the London Eye, we made our way around and joined the fast track queue with our printouts in hand.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

The London Eye, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a giant Ferris wheel on Southbank of the River Thames. It opened in 2000 as part of the millennium celebrations and stands 443ft (135m) tall, with a wheel diameter of 394ft (120m). It is the most popular paid attraction on the UK with over 3.75 million visitors a year. And that number is growing.

The Eye has 32 sealed, air-conditioned passenger capsules which can hold up to 25 people, although the two times I’ve been, there hasn’t been 25 people in the pod. It rotates at a speed of 26cm (10 inches) per second and one complete revolution takes 30 minutes.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Despite visiting the London Eye with BattleKid at the end of the summer holidays, the fast track queue moved quite quickly. The same could not be said for the standard tickets queue. We entered our capsule, or pod, and we were off.

BattleKid was fascinated by the fact we were being chased by another pod and that we were getting higher. But the thing that grabbed his attention the most was the information tablets in the capsule. He loved switching between the day and night mode, much to my annoyance as I tried to spot various landmarks.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Although the revolution is only 30 minutes, I felt it was ample time for a toddler. And as we stepped off the capsule, BattleKid made noises about wanting to stay on. I don’t think he grasped the idea of one turn. All-in-all he enjoyed it as he was still talking about the big wheel for weeks to come.

Tips to ensure you have a successful trip to the London Eye with Kids

  • Plan when you want to go visit the London Eye and book your tickets in advance. This will not only save you time, but you can often save money too.
  • If you can afford to, book fast track tickets, especially if you plan to visit during school holidays. Both times I visited, the standard ticket queue was at least an hour long, possibly more. And no one wants to queue for that long with kids in the holidays.
  • Ensure you arrive well before your allotted time if you book Fast Track tickets. Flexi Fast Track tickets allow you to arrive at any time on your chosen date.
  • Ensure everyone in your party has visited the toilets before you queue as there are no toilets on or at the London Eye. The toilets are located in the Coco Cola London Eye ticket office, as well as a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities.
  • If you are bringing a buggy or stroller, it must be completed collapsible and kept folded throughout the duration of your visit. I’d suggest using a baby carrier or sling if visiting the London Eye with a baby.
  • No food and drink, apart from drinking water, is permitted inside the capsules.
  • There is one bench inside each capsule, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • While the London Eye is wheelchair accessible, only two wheelchairs are permitted in each pod, and only eight are allowed on the Eye at any one time. It is highly advisable to prebook tickets in advance if your party includes a wheelchair user.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Big Ben and Westminster from the London Eye

Other information to note before visiting the London Eye with Kids

  • The London Eye is open every day of the year except Christmas Day from 11am until 6pm.
  • Standard entry London Eye ticket prices are as follows: Adults £26, Child £21 (3-15 years of age), Under 3’s are free.
  • Fast Track London Eye tickets cost £36 per adult and £31 per child, allowing entry to the London Eye at a specific time slot.
  • Flexi Fast Track tickets for the London Eye cost £40 per adult and £30 per child and are only available for purchase online. These allow you entry at any time on a specific date.
  • Capsules are available for private hire for 3-25 guests and there is also a champagne experience available if you fancy something special.
  • You can also purchase combination tickets which allow entry to the London Eye and certain other atttractions in London including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure, ideal if you’re making a day of it in London with the kids.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Can you spot the iconic London Bus?

We visited the London Eye before heading into Sea Life and I was surprised that BattleKid enjoyed it as much as he did. He liked watching the boats going past on the river, and of course, the information tablets, and he didn’t complain once. Except when we were getting off, and he didn’t want to. So, yes, a visit to the London Eye is even suitable for toddlers. And, by taking into account some of the tips I’ve mentioned, you can have a successful visit to the London Eye with kids.

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this review. Prices are correct at the time of writing this post (February 2018).

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

A Fun Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine

If your little boy is anything like BattleKid, he is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan. Every afternoon after nursery before we left the UK, BattleKid would make a beeline for our cwtch room and ask for Thomas and his friends to be put on the TV. It was on so often I even knew the words to the theme tune. But imagine my delight when I discovered we could bring BattleKid on a fun day out with Thomas the Tank Engine.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - blog graphic

While researching family days out in the UK, I came across the Thomas the Tank Engine Days Out. I discovered that these days out were held across various locations in the UK and were a chance for fans to meet Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Looking at which locations were near us in South Wales and on what dates Thomas and his friends would be there, I found a suitable date at the end of October at the Forest of Dean Railway. This was just over an hour drive from our house in South Wales, perfect for a family day out.

I booked our tickets many months in advance on the Day Out with Thomas website and they arrived promptly in the post. All that was left to do was wait until the day for our visit arrived.

A Day Out with Thomas is a family day in which your little fans can meet a real Thomas the Tank Engine and some of his friends, as well as the Fat Controller. There are many locations across the UK to choose from and I’m sure there is one near you. There’s even a chance to meet Thomas and friends in Denmark in 2018!

We left our house just after 9am on the Saturday of our visit with Thomas and friends, and headed for the Forest of Dean Railway. We arrived before our friends who were joining us for the day and parked up. There is a large car park just a short walk from the entrance to the Railway. Once our friends had arrived we got ourselves ready and headed in for our fun day with Thomas.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

A day with Thomas the train starts at the entrance to Norchard Station and we immediately had a certain little boy shouting “Thomas”, who happened to be pulling into the station just as we arrived. Norchard Station was decorated for Halloween as we visited towards the end of October. After we had handed in our tickets at the office, we were given little goodie bags for the boys which had some activities and sweets inside. There was even a Halloween spider in the bag for BattleKid, much to his delight.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

We decided to leave our ride on Thomas himself until the end of our day and we began by heading to the café for some breakfast rolls and a cuppa while we caught up with our friends who joined us for the day. Next up, we went to Platform 3 for the train to Parkend. As we waited for the large steam train to arrive, we spotted a naughty Diesel on the tracks. Once our train arrived, we found a seat and off we set, bound for Parkend.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage of Thomas and a Diesel engine

We were greeted by a marquee and a large bouncy castle. This is where the other fun activites were held. There was a Brio-type train set on a table for little ones to play with. Story-tellers were reading different Thomas the Tank Engine characters’ stories, and there was also a magician. We spent about an hour in the marquee and managed to avoid a rain cloud that had rolled in.

After this, we let the boys run off steam at the bouncy castle before getting the train back to Norchard for our date with Thomas himself. Thomas pulls Toad the brake van up and down the track and this is your opportunity to meet Thomas the Tank Engine and ride with him. BattleDad agreed to stay with S, who had their buggy with her, while BattleKid and I went on Thomas with W and L. You are pushed back along the tracks a certain way before Thomas pulls you back to Norchard Station, leaving a trail of steam behind him.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

With peep-peeps and a steam trail, BattleKid was thrilled to be on real life Thomas the train and was singing the theme tune the whole way. We left the Forest of Dean Railway just after lunch with a very happy boy who slept the whole way home. He talked about his visit with Thomas and friends for months afterwards. Here’s a little vlog from our fun Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Things to note if you are planning a fun day out with Thomas the Tank Engine

  • A Day Out with Thomas is held across various locations in the UK (and now in Denmark) on selected dates throughout the year. Check out the website for more details and the Day Out with Thomas schedule.
  • Day Out with Thomas tickets cost £16 per adult, £10 per child and under 2’s are free.*
  • For the Forest of Dean Railway, we had unlimited train rides throughout the day between Norchard and Parkend, and all fun activities were included in our ticket.
  • Norchard Station had baby-changing facilities, toilets, a gift shop with lots of Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise and a café.
  • There was ample parking at Norchard Station.
  • The station was also wheelchair accessible.
  • I would suggest you look into the facilities available at your location of choice as they may differ slightly from place to place.
  • The Forest of Dean Day Out with Thomas opened at 9.30am and closed at 4.30pm.

We had a great time during our fun Day Out with Thomas and I can highly recommend it, especially if you have little Thomas the Tank Engine fans in your house. With lots of activities and unlimited train rides included in your ticket, it’s great value-for-money and makes for a brilliant family day out.

If a Day Out with Thomas isn’t enough for your Thomas fans, why not spend an entire day with Thomas and friends at Thomasland at Drayton Manor. Here’s a great post with hints and tips from Learning Escapes.

And if you are looking for another train-themed day out in South Wales, I highly recommend a visit to the Brecon Mountain Railway!

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this review.

a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - pinterest graphic a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - twitter graphic

 

Hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch

When I worked in Cardiff I used to travel down the A470 from Tredegar and would take Caerphilly Mountain road towards Pentwyn. I passed a sign for the Mountain View Ranch every day since the sign went up and always wondered what it was. One weekend, while wondering what to do with BattleKid, I looked it up. And discovered the Caerphilly Mountain Ranch was somewhere to take kids, so off we went. One of our main reasons for visiting – hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

As I’ve said, the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly is on the mountain but is tucked away nicely, where it can’t be seen from the A470 or A469. With over 100 acres of fresh air fuelled fun for all the family, it is a treasure hidden on Caerphilly Mountain. From archery to high ropes, from a fairy forest, to the official Gruffalo Trail Wales, the Mountain View Ranch has something for everyone.

So, one Saturday morning we stuck on our wellies and water proof boots (it was drizzling), put warm waterproof coats on and off we went to see what the Mountain Ranch between Caerphilly and Cardiff had to offer.

Arriving at 10.15am, not long after they opened, we drove into the car park only to find a handful of other cars there. I think the rain might have put others off but we were undeterred. One of our main aims in visiting the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly was to check out the Gruffalo Trail. BattleKid is a HUGE Gruffalo fan, and we knew he’d enjoy a Gruffalo hunt. He’s a big fan of our dragon hunting adventures, so knew a Gruffalo one would go down a treat too.

We paid our entrance fees (see below for details) and we started our walk past an adventure play area. It looked great but BattleKid was on a mission. There was a Gruffalo to hunt! We went past a pen with goats in it and I had to stop, goats being my favourite of all the farm animals. At the goats, there was a great bridge with a troll living under it. Not far from here is the start of the Gruffalo Trail. The clues say follow the footprints. And that’s what we did.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

The first character we met on the trail of the Gruffalo was Mouse. The story started being recited to us from a certain little boy! At first, he was unsure of Mouse but he soon got over his fears and went in to give him a rub. I’ll admit you probably aren’t meant to go into Mouse behind the ropes. But as we seemed to be the only people there, we cheated.

Carrying on from there, we stopped briefly to have some fun jumping in puddles. Since he was well equipped I did nothing to stop BattleKid and let him enjoy himself. As you can see from the picture, he had fun amidst the misty morning. Unbelievably there were people playing golf on the course next to us!

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Puddle fun on the Trail of a Gruffalo

More footprints led us onto the next character from the story, Fox. This is where BattleKid really had to battle with himself. He really didn’t want to go near Fox as, at the time, Fox was the character that scared him a little in the TV adaptation of The Gruffalo’s Child. It was the eyes I think.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Saying hi to Fox

Owl proved a little more elusive for us. We weren’t expecting him to be in a treetop house, but that’s exactly where he was. In an effort to bring the story and Gruffalo Adventure Trail alive for BattleKid, we had brought his Owl teddy from home. BattleDad kindly hid him and we let BattleKid find him, at the bottom of the tree where Owl was perched. Clutching his owl, BattleKid hurried us along the trail and instead of finding the Gruffalo, we stumbled upon a different but familiar character. It was the dragon from Room on the Broom. He was standing beside a gorgeous red wooden dragon.

And, although we hadn’t planned it, we did an impromptu dragon hunt and found our own dragon hiding in the wings of the wooden one. It took some coaxing of BattleKid to get him to retrieve it. I think the fact that the wooden dragon was on the ground, and looked big, had something to do with his reluctance.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
A Welsh Red Dragon

We soon found signs for Snake after leaving the dragon, and this character BattleKid refused to go near. Footprints from here led us across a small bridge towards a wood. And guess who was in there. Not only Gruffalo himself, but also Gruffalo’s Child! And we found a Gruffalo teddy hidden among the purple prickles on Gruffalo’s back, strategically planted by BattleDad. BattleKid was thrilled with himself.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
We found a Gruffalo teddy hiding among the purple prickles of the Gruffalo
hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Our child with the Gruffalo’s Child

I have to say, despite to grey gloom of the day, the Mountain View Ranch Gruffalo Trail, South Wales, was absolutely brilliant. It brought the story alive for BattleKid. A few character teddy bears also helped keep his interested, although truthfully we didn’t need them. The craftsmanship that went into creating the characters is excellent and they are instantly recognisable.

Satisfied we had found the Gruffalo, we doubled back to the dragon and passed some people on Segway’s on our way to Hobbiton. I told you there is something for everyone at the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly.

Hobbiton, or Hobbit Hill as they call it, looked so cute but BattleKid wasn’t having a bar of going in. So, a picture from afar was all I got. From there we walked past the three bear pods, making our way to a treehouse. However, BattleKid was too young to go into it so we moved on, heading for the Fairy Forest.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Hobbiton

Fairy Forest is located up a slight hill, and we decided to leave our buggy at the bottom and walk up. With wet grass, we were struggling enough with it, without adding a hill into the equation. There was a tree house in the clearing that BattleDad helped BattleKid into. There was a tree with fairy doors in it and a swing. It was a lovely little place, set away in the woods from the main area of the Ranch.

BattleKid was chuffed to get into the treehouse. When he got down he made a beeline for the fairy doors and wanted to cross the rope to touch them. I think he thought he could, as we have a fairy door at home. It took all our efforts not to let him across the rope. Distracted with the swing, he soon forgot about it.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
An eager BattleKid was wondering why he couldn’t go and say hi to the fairies

Someone was starting to get a little tired at this stage and, as we had seen quite a lot of the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly, we decided to head back to the car. Even when leaving the Ranch, there were very few cars in the car park, but bear in mind it was a grey and drizzly day in November when we visited. I have seen pictures of the Ranch in the sunshine and it looks lovely. That said, with the right clothes, this fabulous family place can be enjoyed at any time of the year, in any weather. Although I might stop when there’s snow involved.

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours, hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch. I had hoped we might get a chance to return to it before we left the UK, but alas we didn’t have time. If we ever return for a holiday, I’ll be making time to go back to the Gruffalo Trail, Wales.

Things to note if you plan on hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch

  • Open from 9.30am to 4pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends, during the summer. During winter the ranch is open 10am to 4pm, at weekends and is closed during the week.
  • Adults cost £6 in peak times, £4 in off-peak times, children are £6/4, seniors are £3/2. Under 18 months go free. There are also family tickets available which will save you a little bit of money. Peak times are weekends, bank holidays and school holidays.*
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times, must not enter the sand areas and must be cleaned up after. (We chose not to bring BattleDog with us so we could enjoy our visit more).
  • There is a café on site which closes at 3.30pm during the week and 4pm at weekends.
  • Toilets and bins are located near the goats before you enter the Gruffalo walk. These are the last ones in the Ranch, so visit the toilet before going further and keep your rubbish with you until you return.
  • There is a Gruffalo Trail sticker to be collected at the office once you complete it (we didn’t bother) and there is also a wider Ranch Trail to complete on the map (printable from the website).
  • The Ranch has ample parking in the car park and it is free.
  • There is a snacks and gifts kiosk beside the Adventure Play Area.

I highly recommend the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly if you are looking for a great day out for the family. Older kids will love the High Ropes, Archery, Treehouses and Climbing Trees, while there is loads for younger kids as already discussed. You could even rent Segways. A 45-minute tour costs just £25 and includes your entrance fee into the Ranch. Just be aware there is a minimum age of 13 years for these.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

The Mountain View Ranch on Caerphilly Mountain can be enjoyed in any weather, as we prove, so long as you go prepared. It really is a great family day out venue in South Wales. If you are wondering “is there a Gruffalo Trail near me?”, check out the Forestry Commission’s website for details. 

Cath x

*Times and prices were correct as the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this review.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch