I rather get the feeling that we will be visiting Blackgang Chine and Tapnell Farm every year for the next decade.
I'm not complaining since both tend to have something new to look at each time - Tapnell Farm Park because it is still growing and Blackgang Chine because they realise the value of something new and shiny to draw people in.
At Tapnell Farm there had been a few changes and additions. The smaller climbing wall has turned into a soft play area for toddlers which is welcome since the older children had turned the adjacent area into a battleground with space hoppers as weapons.
Tiny Tapnell has shrunk a bit and moved to the soft play barn to make way for a 'meet the animals' bit with seating. We didn't have time for it on this visit but the queue for it resembled Next on a bank holiday so it seems to be popular.
The chalk cows have gone (unless I missed something) and they have been replaced with cows you can milk yourself. I ended up with a soggy bottom and was rather fond of the chalk cows but I can see the reasons for showing off the farm's history.
Anyway, the park was so ridiculously busy that Tapnell Farm Park is clearly getting it right and showing that if you think about an attraction with parents in mind then you are onto a winner. I'm surprised the bouncy pillow hasn't caused a landslide at Compton Bay with dozens of children continually boinging up and down.
I think the key is time-consuming attractions rather than massive great investments which only occupy twenty seconds of your time. We certainly judge value for money based on the amount of time we have spent somewhere rather than how many times we took selfies.
Blackgang Chine was equally busy as the Underwater Kingdom hadn't long been open. I will avoid giving second by second accounts because if you are interested you are likely to see it for yourself. Our nearly-four year old whispered 'wow, this is amazing' when she thought no-one was listening (such cuteness just about made up for the tantrum the day before over how much ketchup she could have).
We also wasted plenty of time in old favourites like Fairyland (her favourite) Cowboyland (my favourite) and Restricted Area 5 (my second favourite).
I've entered into controversial territory before with Blackgang Chine by discussing pricing. Personally, I think it is just a little bit more expensive when compared to similar sized attractions. When we visited it was £22 per person (aged 4-60) whereas Tapnell Farm Park came to a similar amount for four of us (admittedly one of our party has no teeth yet and another is three foot tall, which rather skews the comparison).
In Blackgang's defence, you can return repeatedly within a week which you might well do as they put on evening events and the like. Plus, the annual pass is really good value at just over £30 (so, if you visit twice in a year it's worth getting, as long as it isn't in the same week).
Anyway, before I get banned from Blackgang Chine I should point out that I still love the park as much as ever and am always impressed at how clean and freshly painted it looks. I still recommend it to people, whether they first went there on a school trip when they were 10 (as everyone seems to have) or if they've never visited before.
Yes, there's nothing quite like that moment when you walk through the pirate's legs, if you know what I mean.
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