**Updated April 2022, as buying in advance is now a bigger saving for some group sizes at Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill**
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.
Robin Hill has the same owners and also offers a cracking day out, over a much larger area. Our favourite bits are the toboggan run, the African themed playground and the new treetop jumping nets but there’s enough to fill several hours.
However, my nose began to bleed and my head rotated three times on our most recent visit to Blackgang Chine when we discovered a ticket for four has now gone up to £126 during peak season. Discount codes and money off vouchers for Blackgang and Robin Hill are rarer than the residents of Dodo Valley, so it ended up costing us 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 whilst Robin Hill was £31. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, that would put 2021's prices at £50 for Blackgang Chine or £44 for Robin Hill.
To be fair, a lot has been invested in both parks in the last 14 years. For example, back in 2008 I don't think Robin Hill offered evening events as part of the ticket price and Blackgang Chine didn't have as much of a daytime programme. 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 which have increased and both parks 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 or Robin Hill:
1. Visit at the start of your holiday
Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill both offer a 7 day free return. You can probably see all of either park in a day, but you may want to revisit things if a rain cloud arrives twenty seconds after you’ve coughed up £126 (the weather is weird at Blackgang Chine). Most things operate in the rain but the toboggan run at Robin Hill and the snakes and ladders slides at Blackgang Chine both shut - 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 shops.
2. Arrive early and then Come back in the evening
During the summer months both Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill put on 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 saw one of the shows in Robin Hill’s Amphitheatre a couple of years ago and were really impressed at the scale and atmosphere. 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 parks open 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 both parks are much quieter because most parents are still arguing with their children about getting out the house/caravan/tent.
At Blackgang Chine, I would head right as you come in the entrance and head for the rollercoaster, waterslide and other rides. Most of the stuff on the left hand side of the park is imaginative play stuff which you walk through so you don't need to queue for it.
At Robin Hill, I would suggest heading straight down the steep hill and going on the toboggan run or getting straight on the 4D Motion Cinema by the entrance. The park is designed so that you follow a more logical circle, but the early afternoon queues for the toboggan run can be quite long.
3. Visit with a 3 year old
I’ll admit this is a bit restrictive, but taking a child on the eve of their fourth birthday is a good move. When we visited it was £35 for anyone over the age of four, or free for anyone under the age of four. Blackgang Chine in particular has quite a bit which will appeal to most three year olds. Sure, they’d get more out of it when they are five or six, but you'd like to leave them with at least some inheritance wouldn't you?
4. Buy an annual pass
This one’s no use to most holidaymakers, but an annual pass may be better value for some.
We've written a separate blog on annual passes as it's quite complicated, because the price fluctuates depending on when you visit and whether you book in advance.
However, the summary is that if you plan to visit both parks during two different school holidays then it is probably worth getting an annual pass.
At the time of writing, an annual pass is £50 for one park or £90 for two parks.
Personally, I think that Robin Hill is a better option for an annual pass as there are more playgrounds and space to run around but Blackgang Chine has better views and an unbeatable charm. Some people alternate between annual passes at the two parks.
5. Buy in advance/buy a joint ticket
The biggest change in the last couple of years at Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill is that some people can save a lot of money by booking in advance. Previously, it was only a tiny bit cheaper.
For 2022, you can save £5 on a school-holiday Blackgang Chine ticket if you buy in advance (£30, instead of £35). For Robin Hill, the peak time saving is a whopping £7 (£28, instead of £35).
So, a family of two adults and one child would save £21 by booking in advance.
The complication is that you don't seem to be able to buy a family ticket in advance. If there are four of you, you'll pay £120 in advance or £126 on the day for a trip to Blackgang Chine during peak times.
Is it worth the £6 saving to then find that the weather forecast was wrong or one of the children needs an unexpected trip to the GP?
Meanwhile, a joint family ticket is advertised as £198 on the poster that we saw in April 2022. That gives entry to Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill for seven days for four people. The saving varies depending on the time of year, but for peak dates it is a saving of £34 compared to buying separate tickets.
Curiously, it seems to cost £200 if you buy a joint park ticket for four people online (i.e. £2 more than buying it on the day).
6. Visit off peak
Not much use to most holidaymakers, but both parks are considerably cheaper outside of school holidays when there aren’t the evening events (it used to be the same price all the time). An off-peak ticket to Blackgang bought in advance is £23, compared to £30 whilst Robin Hill is £22 compared to £28
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 or Robin Hill? Please feel free to comment below...
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