Valley Centertainment

Ok, when it comes to going to Sheffield for family entertainment, what do you think of? Meadowhall, Sheffield Arena or maybe something like the Elephants which were in Sheffield in 2016 (link here)?

Having worked in Sheffield for 4 ½ years, I had only ever heard of Valley Centertainment and never actually went until I was invited down to see what was on offer.

Well, truth be told, there is loads there!!  There are 12 places to eat (yes, 12!!) including good old favourites such as Nando’s, but also loads of entertainment such as Cineworld (apparently the busiest Cineworld outside of London) and Hollywood Bowl.

Obviously you can’t do all of this in one day (would be a good challenge) but we did try and do as much as possible! We started off with Paradise Island Adventure Golf, which has 2 full 18 hole courses. We did the downstairs course, and if truth be told, it was very difficult! If you have smaller children, it might be best to go for the upstairs course!

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The course is clean and well kept and there are enough quirky bits and pieces to keep the children entertained if the attention span is beginning to be stretched! Next-door is “Monkey Business” which is an indoor play area which looked quite large and so you could easily combine the two if you have younger children. Also, the toilets are of good quality and number  so you don’t need to worry about that side of things if your little one drinks too much too quickly!!

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In the same building is Laser Quest, and i have to confess that I have never done this before! You get about 15 minutes to walk (don’t run!!!) and try to shoot the other players. You really need 6 or more to make a good game of it, but they try to group smaller groups together to get a better atmosphere and game. There is a minimum age of 7, probably due to the dark and the effort it takes shooting the laser, so it’s something to bear in mind.  Sadly, taking pictures in the dark doesn’t really work that well!!

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Ok, I look a bit geeky!

In terms of food, we went to Nando’s (another first!) for wings and while we went on a Wednesday evening, it was busy, but the line did move quickly. If you have a large group, it might be an idea to see if you can book in advance!

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Very, very mild wings!

Also on the food front, we went to Frankie and Benny’s for our main meal and the service was very quick and the food was as good as ever. There is always a family friendly atmosphere at Frankie and Benny’s, although I would recommend having the milkshake after doing the laser quest and certainly not before!!

I called it quits for the evening then, before the others went to Cineworld, but I did notice in Hollywood Bowl a “Colouring Station” for children to colour and draw – something that I have never seen and is a really cool idea.

Parking is free at Valley Centertainment (post code: S9 2EP) and can be found all over the site (probably best near the laser quest, or Cineworld) and has its own Supertram stop. To find more information on the venue, check out their website (http://www.valley-leisure.co.uk/) and you can find a page full of offers for the various attractions on site.


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Hotel Chocolat – Children’s Workshop

 

We were invited to attend the Hotel Chocolat “School of Chocolate”, which is a children’s workshop to show them all about how chocolate is made, why it tastes and looks a certain way, as well as have a lot of fun at the same time!

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Hosted by the fabulously child-friendly Dan and Sam, we were guided upstairs and after a hand-wash (good start!) the children were sat around a table and the adults had their drink orders taken and let Dan and Sam take over!!

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You HAVE to have a hot chocolate at Hotel Chocolat!

The children were asked about how chocolate was made and I think it’s safe to say that the adults learnt just as much as the children! Then the taste testing began, with buttons of various kinds of chocolate being passed around. With children being children, and Hotel Chocolat being Hotel Chocolat, all of the chocolate was amazing (adults were jealously looking on at this point!)

After half an hour, the sugar was really kicking in and the children were led downstairs to look at the conch (who knew!) and how the beans were cooked and then the chocolate made. Then, they were up close watching how the tempering process took place, although the children were genuinely scared that the mix was about to be thrown onto a marble table top!!

The tempering process can be seen below.

It is best if you follow your child down for this bit because, well, would you leave a child in a sweet shop?!?! Seriously, they are looked after well but the adults get as much out of it as the children!

Going back upstairs, the really hands-on part came, with decorating a slab of chocolate and a chocolate lolly. This is the part where adults get involved a bit, depending on the age of the child, but remember the chocolate is for the children and not the adults!!

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After that, the decorations are put in the fridge and the children get to have a warm drink of salted caramel (not to my taste, but it went down well with the children!) and they got to decorate a box for their chocolate slab.

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After that, it was time to go with our goody bag and into the shop – you get an in-store discount and so it would be rude if you didn’t buy a little something extra!!

As of October 2017, it costs £20 for a place at each workshop and whilst that might seem a little steep, you probably get £5 of chocolate to take home, plus a drink, plus a discount in store. As a result, the course might pay for itself if you are buying Christmas/Easter presents there in bulk!! In terms of age range, they suggest ages 5-12 and that feels about right – the child has to be confident enough in conversation on their own as it is effectively a learning experience. The class size is limited, so it is a special occasion for all concerned.

Talking to Dan and Sam afterwards, they do suggest that it is better to come as a group, as it gets a better atmosphere in the session, but if you have a confident child, they will be fine on their own. It did make me think that it could be an ideal birthday party venue – especially if you don’t want to invite too many kids!!

We are extremely lucky to have this in Leeds, as the only other location where Hotel Chocolat is doing this workshop is in London and fingers crossed it will be a success, and it deserves to be because it is a wonderful one-off experience.

 


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Sea Life Centre – Scarborough

Situated on the North Bay of Scarborough near Alpamare (link here) the Sea-life Centre has been a constant on the Scarborough seafront for a number of years, but we have never actually been until now!

To get to the Centre, you can either park in the council run car park just outside (£4 for 3 hours as of September 2017), or you can park near Peasholm Park and get the miniature train across, which might appeal, especially in the warmer weather.

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Picture taken outside of the walk-through area!!

So, what is there to see here? Well our favourite was the penguins, and at certain times during the day, you can walk through the penguin enclosure and get super close, if you stay super quiet and still! Little ones might find it a bit freaky, but whilst there is nothing to worry about, it might be an idea to watch a group go through first and see how you all feel. If you don’t go on the walk-through, you can still see them swimming, which is how I got this video…

There are also seals, otters, numerous types of fish and turtles. We took in the seal feeding session which was lovely to see and perhaps a bit more easier for the children to see because they are bigger than the otters, who also have a feeding session (not at the same time in the same pool– just imagine!)

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Otter feeding time

Whilst some of the attraction is outside, it is certainly not a “summer only” attraction. Yes, if it is raining, some of it will be difficult to enjoy, but you can easily enjoy the outdoor bits on a cold, day day. There is also an outdoor play frame, which really breaks it up for the children and whilst it will never be  the reason to go to the Sea Life Centre, it is a nice little extra.

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Children’s Play Area

Also outside is a cafe, with a selection of prices below…

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The attraction is generally flat and whilst it is over 2 floors, there are lifts in case you have a pushchair. However, the site isn’t massive and so you might not need one if you’ve got a toddler. There is quite a dark bit near the beginning when you see all the jellyfish and so some children might find that a bit scary, but it is only a short part – and it isn’t scary at all!!!

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Turtle swimming overhead!

One part that is really child friendly is the star/jelly fish touching – I would have taken some photos, but the danger of dropping my phone in the water was too much!! However, the children really warm to it if given the right encouragement and parents leading by example!

All in all, we spent 1 ½ hours at the Sea Life Centre and the beauty of the ticket is that the ticket lasts all day so you can easily go first thing, then head to the beach for a bit and come back before closing!

A couple of other tips is to look out for online deals and/or the money off coupons on the side of cereal boxes! Paying on the day is the most expensive way of visiting the attraction. Also, check out the times of the special talks before setting off – you might be interested in something specific (although make sure you go for the penguins!), and so plan accordingly.

We really enjoyed our visit and I’m sure that we will be back on a future visit to Scarborough!

** Full disclosure ** We received complimentary tickets (1 adult + 1 child) for the purposes of this review, although this did not affect any part of the review.


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