Butlin's Bognor Regis: Masked Singer, shows, activities, go-karting - it was so good it made a five-year-old cry

The four of us went to Butlins from Monday to Friday. On the Friday, we checked out of the hotel, packed the car, went for a last swim, redeemed the strings of tokens from the slot machines and made our way home, tired and happy.
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A few hours later, I was putting the five-year-old to bed and as expected he dropped off quickly after an action-packed few days. But a couple of minutes later I could hear sobbing so dashed back into his room.

‘Are you OK? What’s wrong?’

‘I wish… sob… I wish…. sob… I wish I was still at Butlin’s.’

The Masked Singer at Butlin's in Bognor RegisThe Masked Singer at Butlin's in Bognor Regis
The Masked Singer at Butlin's in Bognor Regis
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(Son, I think you’ve provided inspiration for their next telly advert. And you’ve certainly provided me with an introduction for this piece.)

To be honest, you could see why he was upset. Butlin’s is absolute heaven if you are a child.

We were staying in the Shoreline Hotel at the Bognor resort. We’d been before, once for the day and once to stay, that time in the original chalets redolent of the Hi-de-Hi original holiday park experience. Nothing wrong with these, but the hotel was a cut above, and with a dining pass had the advantage of a big breakfast and big dinner sorting you out for the day, food-wise. The morning sees the joy of a buffet cooked breakfast, while the evening meal has plenty of options as well as a main theme - such as curry night or pizza. We were well fed the whole time we were there.

And it’s not as if Butlin’s is a huge site, but the Shoreline feels close to everywhere - 500 yards to the pool, less than that to the Skyline Pavilion, near the shop and two of the three main stages.

The racer slides in the Splash pool Butlin's at Bognor RegisThe racer slides in the Splash pool Butlin's at Bognor Regis
The racer slides in the Splash pool Butlin's at Bognor Regis
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The children - the five-year-old has a three-year-old younger sister - were looking forward hugely to the holiday and weren’t disappointed. It felt like every minute of every day was packed with something to do (hark at me, turning into an advert script now).

In the three full days we were there we went swimming three times, we painted pottery, we printed T-shirts, we did a slimy science session and watched the PJ Masks on stage. We also went for a walk into Bognor, went for numerous (free) rides on the on-site fairground, played crazy golf, went go-karting, and watched shows in the evening. The children were occasionally frazzled by the end of the day but fell asleep instantly, their heads were so full of what they had got up to. Mummy and Daddy were just knackered but we genuinely enjoyed ourselves too - it wasn’t just a ‘grit your teeth for the kids’ experience.

The centrepiece of the stay was the Masked Singer show. A new feature this year, it’s instantly recognisable from the television programme (person in daft costume comes out, talks and gives some clues about who they may be, then sings and the audience and guest panel can guess who it is. My non-spoiler lips are sealed, of course, but suffice to say that the people under the costumes were genuinely household names and big stars - and even if they had not been, the thrill for children of shouting “Take it off” at the crazily-attired singer on stage is undiminished. It was a really slick show, not too long and not too short, very funny in places and a perfect pick-me-up. You can see why it’s being pushed heavily this year as it’s an excellent addition.

The carousel at Butlin'sThe carousel at Butlin's
The carousel at Butlin's

Animals Vs Dinosaurs was another excellent show - ostensibly an argument about which are better, it included impressive puppetry, some terrible jokes and some worthy but worthwhile conservation messages. The props are brilliant, and children in the audience were rapt by what was on stage.

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My favourite was a new show put on by Electric City. Part circus, part dance, often on rollerskates and with a brilliant Daft Punk-esque soundtrack, it’s a routine that sees the performers glow in the dark, with flashing lights, LED costumes and provide a hypnotic and thrilling hour. It is genuinely spectacular and I would go to Butlin’s to see this alone.

But the evening shows are only a fraction of what you can do.

We were not blessed with good weather but spent as much time as we could in the fairground (many of the rides will not operate in bad weather). The helter-skelter and chairoplanes are perfect for children, and the hook-a-duck and Arabian Horse racing stalls are what you want from a fairground. There are also four little rides inside the big top that are great for younger kids, as well as a soft play centre, divided into a toddler area and a section for older children.

The dodgemsThe dodgems
The dodgems

The Skyline Pavilion is now also home to Skyline Eats, a revamped dining area with new arrivals Subway and pan-Asian fast food chain Chopstix, which have joined Burger King and Costa Coffee, as well as Butlin’s-own ice cream, waffle and dessert brand Scoop. It’s also home to the Skyline Gang - you can tell when they are about to take to the stage as children dressed in the outfits will suddenly flood the area and sit rapt for 45 minutes, the spell only broken when they stand up and dance.

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And for all the razzamatazz, the shows and the activities, our family’s favourite place was possibly the swimming pool. Don’t expect to swim lengths, but do expect to enjoy the slides - which despite looking quite steep were loved by the three-year-old - the the helter-skelter and above all the rapids, an exhilaratingly wonderful few minutes spent whizzing round the course, both inside and outside, which ends with a satisfying splash. We spent hours in the pool, and would come back on a day pass for this alone, quite aside from the rest of the resort.

I’ll level with you - as a parent it’s an exhausting few days with children who are excited by almost everything surrounding them. But the looks on their faces make it all worthwhile, and you know what? We did have fun too. What a week.

Summer holiday breaks from £85.25ppButlin’s offers a three-night Summer holidays break featuring The Masked Singer Live staying in a two-bedroom Shoreline Hotel room in Bognor from £341 on September 1, 2023. Price is based on a family of four sharing and includes all live shows and activities with free flow access to the pool and unlimited fairground rides. Dining packages start from £22.75 per adult, per day, £13.65 per child (6-14), per day and £6.80 per child (2-5). To find out more or to book go to butlins.com.

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