**Updated August 2023 with an extra money saving tip**
**Updated December 2023 to remove Robin Hill references, as it is up for sale and isn't currently open (tragically)**
We are big fans of Blackgang Chine with its oddball collection of moving dinosaurs, talking bins and waterslides. Many of our best days out have been held there, particularly now child one is tall enough to go on most things. For many of us, it offers both nostalgia and new curiosities each time we visit.
However, prices have gone quite a lot in recent years (a ticket for four at Blackgang Chine was £126 in 2022). Discount codes and money off vouchers for Blackgang are rarer than the residents of Dodo Valley, so it can cost a similar price to Alton Towers where ticket prices are higher but 2 for 1 vouchers are ubiquitous.
A four-person family ticket to Blackgang Chine way back in 2008 would have cost you £35. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, that would put 2021's prices at £50 for Blackgang Chine.
To be fair, a lot has been invested in the last 15 years. For example, back in 2008 Blackgang Chine didn't have big evening parties included as part of the price. Also, they didn't used to have peak and off-peak prices, so it's not a very fair comparison. I’m sure there are also multiple other expenses that have increased and Blackgang Chine always looks clean and freshly painted, unlike the flaky-paint you find at some cheaper parks.
Anyway, rather than wishing it was 2008, let’s have a look at seven ways to get better value out of a trip to Blackgang Chine:
1. Visit at the start of your holiday
Blackgang Chine offers a 7 day free return. You can probably see all of the park in a day, but you may want to revisit things if a rain cloud arrives twenty seconds after you’ve coughed up £100+ (the weather is weird at Blackgang Chine). Most things operate in the rain but the the snakes and ladders slide at Blackgang Chine shuts - and of course it’s utterly miserable walking round a theme park whilst raindrops drip off your nose and the map turns into a soggy mess.
You’ll feel better about it if you come back at the end of your week for another go, even if you do end up spending twenty quid on unicorns and plastic cap guns in the gift shop.
2. Arrive early and then Come back in the evening
During the summer months Blackgang Chine puts on excellent evening shows, which are included in the ticket price. Some people visit the park during the day and then return for an evening show later in the week.
We went along to one of Blackgang Chine's foam parties and fireworks displays in summer 2023 and enjoyed it greatly. If you consider it two different family days out for the price then it starts to feel like much better value.
It's also worth arriving at 10am when the park opens and then heading for the most popular rides to avoid wasting time in queues. Double check that the opening time hasn't changed before you go.
There's a golden hour between 10am and 11am when Blackgang Chine is much quieter because most parents are still arguing with their children about getting out the house/caravan/tent.
I would head right as you come in the Blackgang Chine entrance and head for the waterslide and other rides. Most of the stuff on the left hand side of the park is imaginative play stuff that you walk through so you don't need to queue for it.
3. Visit with a 3 year old
From what I can tell, Blackgang Chine is changing its pricing structure so you that pay based on height rather than age.
We don't have prices for 2024 yet, but that's my hunch based on the pricing for the annual passes.
Previously, we advised people to visit with three year olds as they got in free. I imagine we will soon be advising people to turn up before their children grow too much or to wear shoes with worn soles. We will update this section once we have more information.
4. Buy an annual pass
This one’s no use to most holidaymakers, but an annual pass may be better value for some. As I write this, Blackgang Chine is offering annual passes for £49.
We don't have 2024 day ticket prices but my price from previous years has been that if you plan to visit Blackgang Chine during two different school holidays then it is probably worth getting an annual pass.
It's quite complicated because the price of day visits fluctuates depending on when you visit and whether you book in advance.
5. Buy in advance
The biggest change in the last couple of years at Blackgang Chine is that some people can save a lot of money by booking in advance. Previously, it was only a tiny bit cheaper.
For 2023, you could save £5 on a school-holiday Blackgang Chine ticket if you buy in advance (£30, instead of £35).
The 'off peak' and 'mid peak' savings were smaller but it's still worth booking in advance.
We will update this blog when we have more details on prices for 2024.
6. Visit off peak (and then return on peak)
Not much use to most holidaymakers, but Blackgang Chine is considerably cheaper outside of school holidays when there aren’t the evening events. Many years ago, it was the same price all the time. During 2023, an off-peak ticket to Blackgang bought in advance was £23, compared to £30 on-peak.
If you have different school holiday dates to most people then you may be able to pay the off peak prices.
There is also a little loophole that I haven't tested myself, but which I think will work. Thanks to Dan for pointing this out (please blame him if it doesn't work).
If you visit for the first time on an off-peak date, then I think that you can use your free return on a peak date as long as it is within seven days.
My hesitation with this is that I have a vague memory of some special events being excluded from the seven day free return offer.
Please leave a comment below if you have tried this!
7. Get your in-laws to pay
Ruthless pennypinchers on a family holiday with the wider family should attempt this strategy:
Got any other suggestions for discounts at Blackgang Chine? Please feel free to comment below...
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog