I used to live in the Stoke area in my student days, so although I had visited Waterworld then in my 'life before kids', it had been off my radar since moving more than an hour away. My 13 year old daughter was eager to take her friends there as a birthday treat during the summer holidays. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get there from Stourbridge but it was worth it! The 3 girls (all aged 13) had a great day. It becomes harder to find activities as the children get older but Waterworld fitted the bill perfectly.
It is definitely worth purchasing your ticket online before you go so that you can fast track the large queue, like we did. Inevitably, there is a bit of waiting and faffing, as staff answer queries and check tickets but this is only to be expected with a large amount of customers at peak time in the school holidays. Management were present in the reception area ensuring everything ran smoothly.
As a spectator I welcomed the free WiFi enabling me to do some work, and there was plenty of seating available too. For those not swimming, you do have to pay the same entry price but get a £6 refund on leaving.
It's a great atmosphere! I wished I had brought my costume too! Lots of slides (Space Bowl was their favourite) rapids, and for younger children there is a dedicated area, carefully watched by a lifeguard. In fact the lifeguards are very visible and vigilant which is reassuring.
On what was another hot day, the outdoor pool was popular and it actually felt like being on holiday, sat on a sunbed, watching the girls splash around.
Having worked up an appetite climbing all those steps to the slides, the girls soon wanted food! Thankfully, you don't need to get out and get changed to eat - you can just wander over to the cafe in your cozzie. For lunch there were plenty of options: your usual burger/nuggets and chips or jacket potato (some pre-made healthy salad bowls were also available). The Meal Deals were priced competitively at £5.95 to include a large drink. There is also a pizza bar poolside where you can purchase a 12" Pizza for £9.95, or pasta. In the reception area there's also the option of a Subway concession and a Thai Food outlet, and ice creams can be purchased too.
The girls all said that the changing rooms were clean and they were grateful for the free hair dryers. We were surprised to be charged for use of a locker though (you pay £3 for a family locker and get £1 back).
Parking is managed by a private company and costs £3.50 for the day, so that's another cost to build in to your visit. The pay machines on site take card or cash (make a note of your registration!)
On leaving, I noticed that you can now buy a wrist band and pre-load it with credit so that you can then purchase your food and drink at the poolside without having to return to your locker for your purse, which is ideal if the whole family is swimming.
Overall, a successful day out!
In summary, our top tips are:
1. Book in advance
2. Get there as early as possible (it opens at 10am)
3. Take change for the car park machine (the card machine wasn't playing ball on the day we went)
4. Share a locker with your friends
5. Look out for special offers with Raring2go! or on Waterworld's social media pages.
6. If your child has a disability, keep your eyes open for Waterworld's events, where they open the pool exclusively for children with 'Additional Needs'. Waterworld is staging further additional needs family nights on August 11, and November 17, with tickets available two months before each event.
Have you been to Waterworld? We'd love to hear from you if you'd like to send us your own review.
UPDATE: Thanks to Raring2go! reader Dr Emma Green who has pointed out that "Waterworld allow one adult for 2 children (under 8) in the pool, which some other pools don't. I also noticed that Waterworld had vegan, halal and gluten free food options."