I've got to admit, I'm not a fan of Halloween.
Perhaps I'm missing the point, but there seems to be enough real stuff in the world to give children nightmares without making up a load of stuff. Plus there's the plastic tat which fills the supermarkets and the splurge of annoying marketing emails which say things like "No tricks, just treats for our loyal customers this Halloween!".
No, if I want some good wholesome family fun in Autumn I'd much rather celebrate the death of a failed bombing by setting fire to some explosives on November 5th.
And so, it was with some unease that I arrived at Dino Islands mini golf course at Sandham Gardens which had been given a Halloween twist.
I quickly got over the zombies and spiders when I realised they were running a half price deal for half term. It's usually about £6 a person, but we paid £9 for four of us, including a non-playing two year old who was wheeled around the course in the (golf) buggy. The friendly staff informed us that the whole course had been designed for pushchairs, which turned out to be a very wise move. When we've attempted to push child two round other courses, it has usually involved lifting the pushchair over a windmill.
The Sandham Gardens site previously had a much simpler minigolf course before big redevelopment and investment plans began. There are Sky Nets and beach huts coming soon (Easter 2020 hopefully), to add to the playground, go kart tracks and skate park which are already at the site. Once the nets are in place, you'll be able to fill several hours around the beach and Sandham Gardens. It's also home to The Bandstand restaurant which is in our list of places to eat with a sea view.
The whole site looks very impressive, which you'd expect considering that half a million pounds was spent on it. There are a couple of volcanoes which puff out smoke, as well as a large moving dinosaur and lots of models.
Curiously, it does now mean that there are three dinosaur themed minigolf courses on the Isle of Wight including an 18 hole course on Shanklin esplanade (which costs a similar price) and a smaller course at The Needles Pleasure Park. It does make for a great theme, which fits nicely with the Island's history.
Back in the 90s, we used to play a game called 3D Ultra Minigolf which had 18 holes, each with its own theme including the moon landings, the wild west and the seaside. If I ever decide to build my own minigolf course (which is fairly unlikely admittedly) then I'll be following their lead or perhaps making a global tour golf course which involves putting your ball through a French baguette or over a Mexican wall.
The Dino Islands course itself was tricky enough to keep us all entertained, though I would say it has been designed to be family friendly without too many holes which had us tutting in frustration. I averaged about three shots per hole.
The best holes are ones which involve firing the ball over a narrow bridge or one where you have to avoid a hole which sends your ball back to the start. Most importantly, child one achieved a hole in one which she has since mentioned on an hourly basis.
And so, we came to the final scores which thankfully resulted in child one being victorious. This was helped along by the Isle of Wight Guru Argument Avoiding Minigolf Handicap System (IOWGAAMHS), whereby each player adds on their age to their final score. With a bit of luck it results in the youngest player winning every time, without parents having to deliberately take 26 shots on the final hole to even things up.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog