Sunday, 23 October 2016

#Spooktacular Warwick Castle is The Haunted Castle!


We were lucky enough to get the chance to visit Warwick Castle this weekend.  I've always been interested in the site; anyone interested in the Kingmaker and the War of the Roses will visit just for the history.  But this Halloween Warwick Castle becomes The Haunted Castle with new attractions designed to scare and thrill right up until 9pm.  So we were interested to see if there's something for everyone this half-term.  There was!  It's a great day out anyway, but this half term in particular there are some new attractions and Halloween themed thrills!

We arrived at 10am opening time, as we like to maximise our day trips.  Our girls are now 8 and 10 years old.  Their favourite parts of the day were, and I quote; "The Flight of the Eagles show because the birds were HUGE", "The Horrible Histories Maze because you win a prize" and our 10 year old really liked starting the day with the Grand Tour, because "although you didn't go inside the castle, it was good to learn about the history of the castle itself and how and why certain bits were built".

 The Horrible Histories Maze was great fun.  It's a treasure hunt as well.  The children collect a passport at the entrance, then collect the 6 stamps throughout the maze as they travel through different eras.  Once you have all 6 you can collect a small prize from the gift shop (a Warwick Castle badge).  It's funny how much young children like 'prizes'!

I must admit, I enjoyed the "Flight of the Eagles" show the best.  We saw a beautiful Milky Eagle Owl, a Condor, an American Bald Eagle and four Black Kites.  Quite frankly the Condor was indeed HUGE.  My picture taking was somewhat challenged at this show.  The birds fly rather quickly overhead!

Our girls also tried Archery.  It was £5 for 12 arrows which they shared between them.  They both did brilliantly and our eldest was only one ring of a bullseye.  Worth it, but it gets busy.  There was only one lady manning the Archery activity when we went (straight after the 11.30 Trebuchet show) which was fine.  But we saw her later in the day struggling to work through her queue.

The Trebuchet Fireball Spectacular is good.  We'd seen the Trebuchet in action at our last visit a couple of years ago, and whilst adding fire to the mix for Halloween is probably much more exciting in the evening (in the dark), it was not the highlight of our daytime activities.  Still good though, but once you've seen this once it's not as good the second time.

We enjoyed exploring the Towers and Ramparts walk, even though our thighs are all feeling it 24 hours later! We also took a peek inside the castle State Rooms and the Great Hall.  It did feel somewhat strange to be stood in a dining room looking up at a Chandelier that had been there when both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth dined in the exact same room.  Eerie!

For older children ready for more scares there are loads of other activities.  Firstly, you can pay extra to go in the "Castle Dungeon" throughout the day but it is strictly for over-10s only.

Then; NOT for the faint hearted, particularly after dark, from 12pm daily prepare for disturbing encounters in "Tormented".  It's an attraction only for the bravest.  Queue at the left-hand side of the main State Rooms entrance.  I think this is included in the entrance price.

From 5pm (and you can pay a reduced rate to only visit from 5pm till 9pm) the central courtyard falls silent for the arrival of the plague doctor who's brought in to treat the grotesque, plague-redden souls in "Outbreak 1349", a scary live-actor experience.  Whilst this sounds great for older children and adults, we headed out at around 4.30pm with our two younger girls.

There's also the Haunted Hollows and the Witches Tower, for younger ones, with lower scare ratings.  We were having so much fund we didn't get chance to take a look at these!

So: some tips from our visit:

1) Arrive before 10am to park and get in early to ensure you fit everything in.  There's plenty to do!

2) Head to the Undercroft Restaurant for 12 noon.  it is fairly busy by half past, but is a great 'buffet' pizza and pasta restaurant.  Basically pay at the door, head in, and help yourself to unlimited salad, pizza, pasta, soft and hot drinks.  It cost us £34 for the four of us, and we were stuffed.  Lovely food and no waiting for it to be cooked - usually difficult when you've got excited and hungry children in tow!

3) Remember to pick up the children's Time Passport at the entrance to the Horrible Histories Maze (so they can collect their stamps, and therefore their prize, from the Stables or Courtyard gift shops.)

4) Remember your water proofs just in case.

5) The food isn't expensive here, and if you don't fancy the pizza restaurant, you can get burgers, jacket potatoes, hot dogs, hot pork sandwiches, donuts, afternoon tea (at the Conservatory Tea House), ice creams.... I could go on.  But you can also take a picnic and sit outside (weather permitting).  There is also a restaurant (The Coach House) up at the Stables where the main entrance is, but you will need to get your hand stamped so you can get back in, as it's before the turnstile entrance.

6) Plan your day early on, by checking the times of the shows  (displayed at various locations including at the main entrance to the state rooms).

7) Don't plan to do the Towers and Ramparts tour at the same time that a "Flights of the Eagles" show is on, because they actually close the Ramparts during this time (For the birds to fly onto them!)

8) Feel free to dress up!  Particularly at Halloween.  Plenty of people do.

9) If you fancy splashing out you can now stay overnight in the Knights Village, which welcomes it's first Halloween guests in 2016.

The Warwick Castle, sorry, 'Haunted Castle', website has all the low down on activities this week; 22-31st October 2016, when the castle is open until 9pm daily.

Happy Halloween!

We were provided free entrance tickets for the family to experience Warwick Castle on 22nd October, in return for a review of our day out.  I provide honest feedback and reviews on this blog.  Although this is a sponsored post, it is honest about our experiences on the day.  Thank  you.

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