I’ve lived in the Denbighshire area of North Wales long enough now to be fully aware of the negative stereotypes and impressions people hold of Rhyl. Mention the town to the kids in school and they exchange snide smiles and giggles – despite many of them coming from and living in the area!
Sadly, Rhyl is considered to be a ramshackle, down-and-out place, well past its heyday and associated with everything cheap, tacky and ruined.
However, as I found this weekend, that simply isn’t the case.
Our Family Day Out
Colin and I nobly volunteered to have my brother’s two daughters (aged 8 and 9) stay this weekend – a brave and selfless act because the combination of Lily and her two cousins, the endless 24/7 chatter, late nights, bed-time temper-tantrums, shrieking, squealing, giggling, Disney songs (how many times can you hear “Let it Go from Disney’s Frozen before your head explodes?), requests for piggy-backs, ice-cream, more ice- cream and just 5 more minutes/one more time can drive a person UTTERLY INSANE.
So yesterday we decided to take the 3 girls plus the baby (the easiest, least needy child by far this weekend) to Rhyl for the day. If anything, we thought Something Terrible might happen to one or all of the (except the baby) and give us a bit of peace and quiet for at least half an hour before we’d have to involve any emergency services.
Geronimo’s Play Centre
The play centre (jungle gym) is hidden in the back of the Palace Fun Centre on Rhyl’s West Parade. True, you have to negotiate your way through a labyrinth of amusements – including 2p and 10 machines, racing games and grab-a-toy machines, to name but a few – which is no easy task with 3 kids each with absolutely no concept of money and/or extortion, but it’s well worth running this gauntlet as the play centre is spread over 3 levels, is massive and definitely one of the best jungle gyms I’ve ever seen.
It’s £3.45 per child for an hour and it runs on a coloured wristband system. Unfortunately for Geronimo’s, their tannoy system is pretty poor, not clear at all, and some may say it’s virtually impossible to hear which colour band is being instructed to leave the play area, so let’s just say we got our money’s worth…at least three times over!
The Rhyl SeaQuarium
I can’t say I’ve ever had much of an interest in fish, but I’ve got to say, after a visit to Rhyl’s Sea Life Centre this weekend, I’ve developed something of a morbid fascination in them.
The rays were bizarre – their faces on their undersides looked like a flattened versions of human faces – 100% creepy but 100% fascinating as well.
The illuminated jellyfish were weirdly beautiful, and if I didn’t think I’d be breaking several animal/sea life/ethical laws, I’d love a similar display in my bedroom – I found watching them strangely soothing.
But by far the most popular attraction at the centre were the sea lions and their show. The girls couldn’t get enough of watching them swim backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Backwards and forwards. And backwards again, and forwards again.
Don’t get me wrong, this was all they did, but it was bloody awesome!
Beware of this area if you’re not looking to spend a lot! There are fairground rides and games aplenty (with highly-priced tokens!) running throughout the high-season and, like chocolate in a supermarket, are placed right in your walkway so saying no is tough.
Colin and I limited the girls to one choice, and they opted for the trampoline bungee, which was probably one of the best things to opt for, but at £3 per child for 5 minutes, it’s not exactly cheap. However, judging by the smiles on their faces and screams of joy, I’d say it was worth the money.
The Paddling Pool
My brother and sister-in-law met up with us towards the end of our day (funny how my brother always arrives in time for ice-cream – and coincidentally seems to leave his wallet in the car! Classic cheapskate!) but it was totally by chance that we arrived upon a gorgeous, absolutely free pool area.
The pool is clean, staffed by a couple of lifeguards, and not quite deep enough for swimming, but idea for paddling and cooling off in. The sprays were pretty fun – especially if your version of fun is getting totally soaked
And So, To Conclude…
One of the best days out I’ve had with my kids and nieces in a long time. Perhaps not the cheapest, but Rhyl certainly succeeded my expectations as a great family destination with loads to offer all ages.