25 September 2013
We stayed at Butlins Minehead during the school summer holidays 2013.
We booked Gold accommodation. The buildings used for the gold accommodation is getting quite old now, but is frequently refurbished and was very good condition inside. Some of the gold accommodation has been further upgraded adding a balcony etc., but the gold accommodation is very good. There are also some luxury apartments, but other than seeing the building from the outside I don't know what they are like.
There are many activities included in the price of the holiday. The main ones being the funfair and the swimming pool. The fairground was looking very dated, but just like our last Butlins holiday at Bognor Regis the new revamped funfair is due next year. It sounds like many of the rides are still the same as the current ones, but with a few new ones too. If you are planning a holiday at Butlin's Minehead from 2014 onwards it should be the new improved funfair.
The swimming pool is good too. Including a master blaster boat ride and several different slides. It was very busy at times, making the pool a bit crowded, but was still good.
There are also some free children's activities as well as some that incur an additional fee. Our son joined in with the fencing which was free of charge, it's one of the activities I remember from when I used to visit Butlins when I was a child. The activity needed to be booked in advance, but there were quite a few sessions available and we didn't have any problems booking a couple of days prior to the session.
Our daughter wanted to try Archery instead, which was extra but quite reasonably priced.
The evening entertainment and the daytime shows are still free, but they've now introduced a fastpass system where you can jump the queues and gain early access to the venues by buying wristbands. The fast-pass system was very expensive particularly because the charge is per person. If willing to queue in advance then the early ones from the normal queue had seats almost as good as the fast-pass people typically within the first few rows.
I'm not really in favour of the "pay-for" fast pass access that creates a two tier system. I don't think it would have been worth it for the few occasions we queued to get into the shows and I'm glad we didn't pay the extra for this holiday.
There was a circus which had an additional charge. I would have considered buying tickets for the circus, but we already had quite a packed holiday and thought it would be better to visit a circus when one visits our local town again later in the year.
We ate out a few times during the holiday. We really enjoyed the Firehouse Grill restaurant which we went to as a birthday treat for our daughter. We also went along to a Character Lunch which we've found in the past to be a good way to get close to the characters and whilst enjoying a good meal (last holiday we had Character Breakfast instead which was included in the cost of the hotel room). This years character lunch was the best we had been to. As well as having some characters for young children (Billy and Bonnie Bear, Elmo and Mike the Knight) the skyline gang were also there to cater for older children. The lunch included a character photo per child which made it quite good value for money.
The one thing that I thought was expensive was the on-site Spar shop. We didn't really use that much as it is only a short walk to a Morrisons and Tesco store.
It would take too long to list all of the activities that we did during our holiday, but hopefully this gives a good idea of what the holiday was like. The site was kept clean and tidy and all the staff were very friendly. At a Butlins holiday you really feel that the staff there want to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible.
We had another great holiday and my children are already asking when we can go back to Butlins again.