Butlins Just For Tots, Skegness – the review!

I’m going to start by saying that we were super lucky to have won this trip through a Little Tikes competition, and in no way were we asked to review it.

When I found out we had won, I was blown away with excitement – it is something I had been looking at for a a while, but never believed anyone could win such a prize!! πŸ™‚

Welcome to the Butlin's Just For Tots week at Skegness
Welcome to the Butlin’s Just For Tots week at Skegness

The review is based on the many questions I’ve had since returning from Butlin’s last week, and written from the perspective of a first-timer.

I know people return year on year (sometimes several times a year!) to Butlin’s, so here’s my review of our first ever Butlin’s trip, and our first ever week on the Just For Tots week!

Everyday adventures at Butlin's
Keep dreaming, Lily!

The buildup

The Just For Tots weeks at Butlin’s are designed for families with children under the age of 5. When we spoke to the booking team, they asked for Lily’s date of birth to ensure we had at least one child under the age of 5.

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We visited on the Christmas weeks

Our group of mum-friends had looked at going before with our little ones, but never been able to coordinate dates between us, but they do offer decent prices during off-peak weeks on these dedicated Just For Tots weeks, often joined by Justin Fletcher to keep the under-5’s dream alive!

In the run-up to the week, I was definitely impressed with the amount of information from Butlin’s, from the countdown to the days through to a downloadable PDF of everything on offer that week.

There was also an app, available throughout the buildup and then the week itself, which had all your personalised trip details there, optional upgrades, as well as events you can book during your visit.

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Everyday adventures at Butlin’s Skegness!

First impressions

The Just For Tots weeks run Monday to Friday on various weeks throughout the year. You can access your accommodation throughout the afternoon on your first Monday.

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She loved the Little Tikes Town and playing with the cars and houses with the other kids!

Due to Lily’s school play, we arrived at around 5.30pm, and had to wait in a queue to check in. After the long drive, Lily was getting restless waiting in the car queue, however we were greeted by a lovely lady called Lillian, who became like a fairy godmother to us throughout the week – any time we needed anything, she seemed to appear!

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Exploring on the first night – loving the Christmas decorations!

She gave us our wristbands, a map, and the keys to our room. We got a little lost driving around the site in the dark looking for the accommodation, but once we had found it, there was plenty of parking around the edge.

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The Skyline Pavilion entrance

First impressions of Butlin’s Skegness was complete mind blown at the sheer size of the place – it was huuuuge!

Enjoying beating mummy on her first game bowling!
Enjoying beating mummy on her first game bowling!

Butlin’s is like its own town, with a huge funfair, children’s funfair, 2 supermarkets, bowling alley, huge amounts of accommodation, a huge water park with indoor and outdoor flumes, outdoor restaurants, a massive circus-style tent housing various stages, bars, restaurants and shops, two arcades, a spa, soft play, and even more buildings for various activities… and more!

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The Little Library was a hit with this one!

The Skyline Pavilion

We are generally outdoor-holiday people, so having EVERYTHING under one roof was mind-blowing in itself. We’ve been to Haven, but never seen anything on this scale before.

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She loved meeting the characters running around – especially Ginger!

The Skyline Pavilion was the hub of the majority of the entertainment, where you can find the Centre Stage, the main stage, a bowling alley, arcades, supermarket, various shops, a puppet theatre, restaurants and more.

The Skyline Pavilion hosted its own shows on the huge stage
The Skyline Pavilion hosted its own fantastic shows on the huge stage

Lily tried her first ever bowling experience, which she loved (except the second game but we wont mention that, haha!), and spent a great deal of time enjoying the 2p machines in the arcades.

This one loves the 2p machines!
This one loves the 2p machines!

You could also find the Little Tikes Town, which was great fun for her to make friends in and run around with other kids, the Little Library for some chill time, and the Puppet Theatre, which was definitely a highlight of our week.

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Chilling out in the library on the kiddy sofas!

We tried to get into the Centre Stage for the panto, but people were already queuing an hour before it started, so we totally missed out on that, and there were long queues to meet-and-greet the characters too, so we avoided them unless they came around!

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The Mr Men show was a hit with Lily!

We did make the most of the coffee shop here, check out the messy play activities, and enjoy the little kids’ rides too!

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There were even little rides inside the Skyline Pavilion

There was also a main stage area which is all open, so no queuing either.

We really enjoyed the Mr Men show (Lily is 4, so at that age where she loves interactive shows!!), as well as the very special Skyline Snowstorm for Christmas.

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The Puppet Castle shows were fantastic!

Regulars seemed to know about getting there early to get a spot that you can see from, saving tables, and there were also those who seemed to stand in front of people at the last minute (before putting kids on their shoulders!), but by the third day we found a better spot to stand to get a better view – we were learning, slowly πŸ™‚

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The Skyline Snowstorm show at 5pm each night was great fun and so magical

Splash Waterworld

Firstly you have the huge splash world swimming pool with various swimming pools, activities for kids throughout the day, a huge whirlpool, a smaller pool with smaller slides and toddler fun, and plenty of flumes open at various times throughout the day.

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A great place for families to go

We really enjoyed our family swim here – especially the whirlpool and the huge inflatable balls in the pool!

There is also plenty of changing there and it is accessible too – minus the huge number of buggies in the entrance!

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She was so excited to go swimming!

There are some super flumes that head outdoors, and even at the other side of Butlin’s you can find a spa, but we didn’t get a chance to check that out.

Beyond the Skyline Pavilion

Included in your visit is also access to the indoor soft play, suitable for kids of all ages, and a place Lily loved.

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The free soft play was a great place to escape the weather and let her run around!

You need to book in time slots, which you can do at the desk – we’d recommend taking a coffee with you from the coffee shop as there aren’t hot drinks down there, but you’re allowed to take them in! It is very safe in there, plenty of seating, and adults aren’t allowed in the soft play itself, but there are plenty of friendly staff on hand to help – and toilets nearby too!

There’s also the animals to visit in the Discovery Centre, and a separate huge arcade and supermarket there too.

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Space Invaders with Daddy!

Lily also loved the Little Stars funfair designed for younger kids, including a little playground, car ride, planes and teacups.

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The Little Stars funfair was definitely a great place to take her

There were no queues for the rides either, so definite a win-win when the downpours stopped!

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She loved the planes – can you tell?! πŸ™‚

Arts and Crafts sessions were also a huge highlight for Lily, and we made the most of these as a lovely bit of ‘down time’ for her away from all the entertainment to avoid a massive sensory overload from her.

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Arts and crafts activities were a real hit with this one

She loves entertainment but with all the sounds, lights, and interactive activities, she was getting tired quickly, so arts and crafts were definitely a win!

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Making festive doorhangers – the staff here were so lovely too!

She made festive door hangers, pictures, enjoyed Play Doh afternoons, and more. These sessions were based in the nursery area, and despite the busy flow of people, the staff were amazing in there and so friendly!

The Play-Doh Play Kitchen where you even get your own tub of Play Doh!
The Play-Doh Play Kitchen where you even get your own tub of Play Doh!

You can also easily access the beach from Butlin’s with its own gate to get you onto the huge beach, and its own little “beach” area on the grounds itself.

Unfortunately the horizontal icy rain throughout most of the week meant it wasn’t even “wrap up warm” beach weather, but that’s another excuse for us to head back in the spring or summer πŸ™‚

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On a rare sunny morning we checked out the little beach

The accommodation

We were super lucky to be in gold accommodation, and were surprised to have a 3-bed apartment for the 3 of us, with views across the courtyard, a living area, dining area, shower room and kitchen with fridge, cooker and microwave too.

If you were cooking, you had everything you needed on hand.

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We stayed in the Gold Accommodation – this one was very excited!

Although the rooms were very basic and in need of updating, they were super clean and we had everything we needed, from tea and coffee through to plenty of towels in the bathroom.

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Wandering around the accommodation block – she definitely loved it here!

The downside was that the room was quite a walk from the main entertainment area, which probably wouldn’t be too bad in the summer as the grounds are lovely to walk through.

We were just really unlucky with the very bad storm for most of the week, so the long walk carrying a tired child wasn’t fun – maybe taking a pushchair or trailer is a good idea for families with smaller kids.

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We had our own 3-bed apartment with living area, kitchen and more! It was all so well-kept too

Accommodation starts at just basic rooms through to larger apartments for different group sizes, so you’ll be sure to find something depending on what you’re looking for.

We did enjoy having the living area to relax and have some quiet time playing some games and activities we brought with us each afternoon, and the housekeeping staff were so friendly, keeping everything so clean.

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Relaxing with some of her My Busy Bots after a busy morning swimming

It is also great that you can hire pretty much anything for your accommodation, from high chairs, cots and bed guards through to pushchairs and wagons, making it even more family-friendly without having to pack the car with bulky extras!

The dining

One of the highlights was the premium dining package that came with our prize and something anyone can upgrade to when booking a stay – and we can’t recommend it enough!

The dining halls were so modern, clean, and you had a few extra visitors too!
The dining halls were so modern, clean, and you had a few extra visitors too!

The plan comes with a full buffet option for breakfast and dinner, but with breakfast lasting til 10.30am and dinner starting from 4pm, you don’t even need lunch if you time it right and fill up! We ended up only needing a coffee (or a babyccino and a gingerbread man for Lily!) at lunchtime from Soho Coffee.

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The restaurants were kitted out with kids plates and cutlery too!

Not only were the food options delicious and fresh, with healthy options for all dietary needs too, but they were also so well catered for children, with kid-friendly cutlery and plates (we also made use of the kid cups as they weren’t single use like the adult ones!:)!), and child-friendly options for meals too.

Tea and coffee are also included, as is an ice cream machine and fruit for dessert too!

Even more so are seats for toddlers, high chairs for babies, and mountains of colouring, making dining so much less stressful with kids!

What’s more, you randomly had the Teletubbies stroll into the dining halls at different times. Lily isn’t a Teletubbies fan but she was so excited to give them a cuddle as she loves meeting characters (Though her only wish by the end was a cuddle with Bonnie, but we weren’t going to join the huge queue for that ;)!!)

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This was in the Yacht Club – so clean and lovely decorations too

If you didn’t have dining packages, there were still plenty of places to eat on site, plenty of restaurants for all meals, two supermarkets, a Soho coffee shop, bars, and a Burger King too.

The staff

Another huge plus-point was the staff – I cannot fault them at all, from the cleaners and restaurant staff through the the entertainment team.

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The entertainment staff were always so full of energy

They were always so full of enthusiasm, so helpful, so friendly, and Lily loved them – especially the ones who gave her a hug or remembered her name!

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From the cleaners to the restaurant staff, everyone made Lily’s stay so special… even TinkyWinky!

Christmas week fun

We visited on the Butlin’s Just For Tots Christmas Week, which included a whole host of festive fun.

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Meeting Santa in his grotto

The whole resort was decorated beautifully, all the staff wore Santa hats, the crafts were festive themed, and the shows all were designed to bring that Christmas magic.

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She loved all the festive decorations

What’s more, each child was able to either see a Santa show, receive a gift, or meet and greet Santa. Whatever festive experience you were invited to, depending on the age of the child, it brought a touch of festive magic, as well as gave kids a special book to come home with too… and the letter from Santa that appeared in your room if you posted a letter to him!

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Every kid got a special gift from Santa, whether they visited him or just collected their special present bag

Conclusions

If you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful holiday away from it all, Butlin’s Just For Tots weeks are probably not the place to go.

If you’re looking for a place to visit with the kids, where entertainment is on tap and you know children will love something that is going on, get booking! Financially, you also know how much you’re spending before you go, so no need for extras like for the rides, unless you want to, as most things are included.

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She loved her stay at Butlin’s and loves her Bonnie Bear!

It was busy, there were a lot of children, and we were all exhausted by the end of the week… sign of a good time, right?! Butlin’s is definitely a place that can hammer all your senses – there is always some kind of background noise, something dancing on a stage, music playing, or an activity to do. The amount you get for your money included in your packages, is just incredible, and there are even add-ons if you’ve done all of that too!

The staff can’t be faulted, and you’re definitely well catered for and well looked after every minute of your stay.

I guess, for some people, Butlin’s is like Marmite – you’re either going to love it, or not. For those that love it, it is also like Pringles – once you’ve popped, you can’t stop coming back again and again.

People were queuing on the last day to book the special deals available on site for the next trip… and I don’t blame them one bit – everything is included, you know you’re going to have an amazing time, and it caters for families of all ages, all abilities, all backgrounds and no matter what you look for in a UK holiday.

It would also be good for families or groups with children of different ages, as there is always something to keep all ages entertained.

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The whole experience blew my mind, and you can see why people come back every year!

As a first timer, there’s probably so much I’ve missed and so much I don’t know. There were sports we missed, shows we didn’t catch and activities we didn’t manage to do, despite being non-stop the whole time!

I’m sure we spent our first 24hrs like rabbits in headlights, trying to work out what to do out of the huge amount of things to do!

I’d love to go back, but a bit more prepared next time, and perhaps in the summer where you can experience the beach and more of the outdoor areas too.

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Lily and Bonnie – now inseparable!

Saying that, I’m so glad we got to experience it at Christmas, with all the magic that the festive season can bring to children.

Thank you to all the staff at Butlin’s as well as everyone at Little Tikes UK for making this amazing week happen for us.

Lily hasn’t stopped cuddling Bonnie bear since we got back and would love a Billy bear to cuddle too – any excuse to head back, right?

For more on the Butlin’s Just for Tots weeks, click here

Please note, I’ve done my best to blur or cut out other kids from the photos, or included photos that do not have other children in it. It was super busy in places, but I’ve tried my best, however if you or your family want any photos removed, please let me know and I’ll do that straight away.

Tips for families visiting

  • If your kid has little legs, bring a pushchair or a trailer to cart them around. Although there are so many buggies everywhere, there can be long walks between accommodation and the main site, depending on where you are staying.
  • Download the app before you go and make some decisions about things you want to see – that may help as the week seems to fly by!
  • If you want to meet & greet characters, get there early as the queues can get quite long
  • Queues for the main show, such as the panto, start very early, about an hour before hand – I believe you can get early-access passes or if you’re in larger groups you could probably get someone to stand in the queue for you as toddlers aren’t the best at waiting!!
  • You don’t need to take bulky items with you – you can often hire them there, as well as items from bikes and electrical items through to a baby bath and bed guards.Check out the list here.

If you’ve been to Butlin’s and perhaps are a regular with some hints and tips, let me know any secrets that we may have missed out on!

The magic of Butlin's at Christmas is real!
The magic of Butlin’s at Christmas is real!