Sunday 10 May 2015

Just for Tots - Butlins Minehead

photo credit - Butlins

Butlins launched their "Just for Tots" breaks last year and they have proved very popular amongst families with small children. We went last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go again this year!

The Just for Tots breaks are designed for children under 5 and everything is geared up for them including live shows with their favourite characters, early dining times and repeated activities throughout the week. 


I'll start with this one as it's one of the more important things to look at when booking! We decided to book a private caravan (we used Lakeside Caravans) rather than one of the apartments and for us this worked out great. The caravan was next to a large lake and Elliot loved feeding the ducks. It was a 10 minute walk to the restaurants/Skyline Stage but this meant it was generally quieter where we were based. I can't really comment on the apartments as we didn't stay in them but they are looking a little tired and in need of some revamping. On the other hand, Butlins have recently built some posh new chalets next to a new lake and these looked lovely! Butlins cater for every budget so it's worth checking out what the different grades mean. 


Rather than paying for a set dining plan we decided to go self catering - this works for us as we like to leave the resort and explore and don't like to be restricted to where/what we eat. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from if you don't want to cook and we  had some great meals whilst we were there. 

The Diner was a new restaurant since our last visit and we couldn't wait to try it out - lots of choice for adults and kids and prices not too bad. Hubby and I both went for burgers and they were massive! The Diner also offers entertainment while you eat - every so often the music stops and some of the staff get up and sing. Not something you experience everyday! 

The Firehouse Grill was another good meal - if you like Nandos then you can't go wrong with this place. We went for a whole chicken plus sides and there was plenty for the 3 of us to share - this worked out cheaper than buying two mains, and a kids meal. 

There are plenty more options on the resort including Pizza Hut, Sun & Moon pub, Burger King, Finnegans Fish & Chips, Soho Coffee and there is also a well stocked Spar shop if you fancy rustling up something back in your caravan. We stopped off at the large Morrisons before checking in so we had a well stocked fridge! 

All the restaurants have high chairs and the kids are really looked after with crayons and colouring sheets, and balloons.

Live Shows

The Just for Tots breaks have a jam packed schedule of live shows and there was always something on through out the day. Some of the shows we watched at the Skyline stage were Mike the Knight, Fireman Sam, Barney's farmyard singalong and the Skyline gang. There were lots we didn't find time for including Thomas the Tank Engine.....we didn't mention that to Elliot though! The only downside to the Skyline Stage was that the seats filled up really fast and latecomers had to stand along the sides - ok if your child is going to sit on your shoulders but not very good for the short ones. 

We also caught a couple of shows in the Centre Stage venue which really took me back to my childhood when I used to go to Haven Holidays and dance around at the disco while my parents watched on from their table! It's a large venue and despite the crowds at each show, there seemed to be plenty of seats for everyone although the queues at the bar were quite long sometimes. We watched Aladdin Rocks on our first night which is a "spectacular rock panto" but it wasn't really for us so we didn't make it til the end! The following evening we watched the Mister Maker show which was a lot more enjoyable and really fun for Elliot - you can read all about that here. On our final night we decided to watch the Scooby Doo show and actually, this was Elliot's favourite bit of the whole holiday! He was mesmerised from start to finish and loved the fact there was a ghost train and a monster on stage! 


As well as the live shows, there are also plenty of chances to meet the characters and there is a dedicated area where this happens. Butlins take a few photos for you but they are very good at letting you take your own pics - you're not obliged to pay for their photos but it's worth having a look because they are done in front of a green screen so the end result may look different to what you were expecting! Last year Elliot was a bit scared of the characters (they are quite large!) but this year he was more than happy to stand next to them and have his photo taken. He met Mike the Knight & Evie, Fireman Sam, Scooby Doo and we also bumped into Barney on our last morning. We wanted to meet Bob the Builder but unfortunately the only time slot was 2pm on the Monday and we hadn't even checked in then so missed that one! 

Active Activities

There are tons of things to do to keep the kids busy / wear them out and most things are included in the price. The Splash Waterworld was great fun and we couldn't wait to visit again after enjoying it last year! There is a large pool with a lazy river and a wave machine that goes off every so often. We love the wave machine but it can be a bit choppy and might be a scary for those not confident in the water. Luckily Elliot is a big fan of the water and loved splashing about in the waves! There are also several water slides (we didn't go on these) and a smaller shallow pool suitable for toddlers. The pool can get really busy which means busy changing rooms but we managed to pick a quiet time and had no issues finding a family changing room. The only negative was that the showers were absolutely freezing and meant we had to just dry off and shower back at the caravan. It would have been nice to wash the chlorine off there and then but there was no chance Elliot and I were standing under those icy showers! 

Little Tikes Town was another favourite spot and we visited several times whilst we were there. It's a small track with lots of little Cozy Coupe cars to take a spin in. Or push around if you're Elliot! 

There are several different playgrounds in the resort including a toddler soft play inside - we didn't actually get time to do any of these despite wanting to! 

Things to Spend your money on!

Of course you could do this break on a budget but there are lots of things to tempt you into reaching for your wallet including our favourite - the arcade.  We never normally visit arcades so it was a bit of a novelty for Elliot being able to put some money in the machines - he got to be quite a pro at the 2p machines and we managed to win lots of tickets, 2ps and toys! The grabber machines proved to be a constant tease, we really wanted to win Elliot a minion but it wasn't to be....despite my husband's best efforts! He had to make do with a safari meercat instead :)

Butlins has a well stocked toy shop featuring all the toys and characters you could possibly think of. The prices weren't actually too bad and they do have a pocket money section which Elliot liked, he came out of there the proud owner of two giant bugs which he named Mister Maker and Andy ;) 

Next to the Skyline Stage there is a sweet shop sure to tempt your little ones. We bought some pick & Mix but they were a bit on the pricy side! 


There are two fairgrounds - an traditional outside funfair with bigger rides and a small inside one just for toddlers. The traditional funfair is open daily from 12-4 and features a carousel (my favourite!), dodgems, Chair-O-planes, a helter skelter and much more. A few of the rides had a height limit but there was still plenty for Elliot to go on. He loved the helter skelter! All the rides are included in the price so you can go on as many times as you like. 

The tots funfair is brilliant because all the rides are suitable for under 5's so Elliot could go on everything. There were lots to choose from including cup & saucers, giant slide, flying aeroplanes, train ride and much more. His favourite was the aeroplanes and seeing his little happy face was the highlight of the whole week for me! 

Top tips

- Although you won't be able to get into your accommodation until 3/4pm, you can arrive on site from Midday onwards. It's worth arriving early to avoid the queues which can be massive around 4pm - the queue on the road was at least half a mile long when we arrived! We avoided the queue and parked up in the big carpark and my husband went and checked in later on when it was quieter while Elliot and I enjoyed the entertainment...and the sweet shop! 
- If you are planning on attending one of the character photo shoots make sure you get there a little early. The Redcoats will close the queue after a certain time so you may end up disappointed if you miss the time slot
- You can end up spending a fortune on drinks, especially for the little ones! We bought some Morrison's flavoured water in little bottles and made sure I had plenty of these in Elliot's bag. He still felt like he was getting a treat drink but it was saving us a few quid too! 
- If your little one needs a nap and you're wondering where to go for a walk the head towards the caravans. There is a lovely peaceful walk around the lake where you will plenty of ducks, geese and maybe even bunnies!
- Don't feed the seagulls, they are greedy!! We saw a man almost lose his pasty when a gull swooped down and almost pecked it right out of his hands!
- The shows get really busy and I'd definitely recommend allowing plenty of time to get a table otherwise you may end up standing or sitting right near the back
-  There are plenty of baby changing facilities around the resort but I found that the ones by the Skyline Stage were always really busy and by the end of the day they weren't the cleanest. The disabled loo in Hotshots sports bar was always empty and much cleaner! 
- You will be given an Entertainment guide in your welcome pack so it's worth planning what you want to do. Lots of the shows are repeated which is very handy as we missed a couple due to a sleeping boy! 

Butlins Just for Tots breaks have so much to offer and there is so much that I haven't even mentioned such as the messy play, Usborne Book Corner, Tots Soccer and Scoop Ice-Cream Parlour. There is also Minehead town which is a short walk from Butlins which has some nice places to eat (The Stone Hotel is our fave), the West Somerset Railway for little train buffs and Dunster Castle just up the road which is great for exploring. 

We had a great time and I'm sure we will return next year. Elliot has some great memories and still hasn't stopped talking about Mister Maker and Scooby Doo! 

**I wasn't paid to write this review, we paid for the holiday ourselves and had a genuinely great time!**

Everything Mummy

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  1. Really enjoyed reading this post. I've been to haven before I had the kids and I really enjoyed myself so I would love to go with my partner and both girls soon. Hopefully this summer. Butlins is somewhere I would love to, but the only down thing I find with Butlins and Haven is how busy they are! Although you do have a good time. I just don't like busy place.
    Great information here, looks like you had a a fantastic time.

    Thanks for linking up with #justanotherlinky over at life-as-mum

    1. Yep the busyness was certainly a downpoint but I guess it just shows you how popular these kind of breaks are! Thanks for your comment xx

  2. I saw these tots weekends advertised last year and might look into it again after reading your review #sundaystars

  3. Wow I didn't realise Butlins did these Tots weekends! What a fantastic line-up of activities and shows, my girls would love all this. Think I may have to look into these weekends! Thank you so much for linking up to Sunday Stars xxx

  4. Sounds like a great break with the under 5's. We now have a 5 year old so won't be able to attend now :-( but can imagine it's lovely enjoying the facilities without much bigger children there. #justanotherlinky

  5. What a fantastic place for tiny tots, he looks like he's having a complete ball in all of the pics! :) #timetraveller

  6. it looks like you had a great time, but places like this are my biggest nightmare. With 4 boys we stayed away from holidaying in places like this as it was impossible to monitor them and one would always get bored when split into 2s or 3s

  7. We have enjoyed many Butlins holiday and our first was probably when the girls were the same age as Elliot, they LOVED it. The fairground was a huge hit as was Centre Stage. I think Butlins excel in covering the children's entertainment and let's face it when the kids are happy we are happy.

    Thanks so much for joining in Time Traveller, I've really enjoyed your review.

  8. Looks like you had a great time and it's so nice when a place lives up to your memories isn't it? And I love those burger photos :) #timetraveller

  9. I can't believe I've never heard of this!It looks amazing,I'm certainly looking into this for our next family hol x


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