Center Parcs: Activity booking day!

Jumping straight to it with this blog post. We booked Center Parcs for a week in July and then we had to wait for a magic date in May to be able to book our activities.

When a friend told me they’d stayed up past midnight to book their activities I was really shocked! They encouraged me to check what date we could book ours from so we were ready. This was news to me, I panicked a little as it hadn’t dawned on me it was clearly a case of fastest finger first and that totally put me on edge! What if we couldn’t get any of the activities we wanted?! Would it even be worth going?

A few other friends had reached out and offered advice and said to go with activities first and pay for them, then go back on for food and pay for them and then go back for anything we’d missed. This made a lot of sense!

Covid restrictions were still in place for our stay in July and that meant the pool required you to book daily (you could just rock up in the evenings) so that was our first priority.

It’s all about the pool for us!

Let’s get booking!

10th May was our magic open booking date and it came around pretty quick. It wasn’t midnight for us, it was from 8:30am. Right in the middle of the school run, I mean honestly who thought that one through?! Not someone with children for sure!

We made sure Mark could work from home that morning so he could field the boys and I could sit ready to go on the laptop. Fastest finger first… Things were tense!


Swim slots booked out faster than I could click and we only managed one day booked for opening at 10am. (Why don’t they open earlier?!) It was great to see the activities all being booked out but my goodness it was super stressful to book on the 6 lots of swimming and this was all before 8:40am!

Next up I tried to book all the activities. Timings and age limits (we hadn’t previously been able to view on the website’s short activity descriptions) ended up changing quite a few of our plans. That was super frustrating. It turned out, Loki, aged 6, couldn’t do a lot of the “family” activities. By the time I’d got the bookings added for the adults and big kids the younger kids options had all gone for several activities too. Gutted!

I wish we could have had that info about age ranges etc earlier, it would have really helped and I wouldn’t have wasted precious time rooting through alternative activities on the morning of booking!

The water sports at Whinfell were a nightmare, some of the options just didn’t make any sense. The full activity list we could view beforehand helpfully said “May not be available at all sites” but wouldn’t get specific! My favourite was a teasing picture of single kayaks but yet no single kayaks were available to book at Whinfell so I couldn’t book half what we’d planned as none of it was an option and ended up going with 4 double kayaks and hoping for the best.

Fun on the Water awaits!

Prioritising swimming meant there were lots of activities we immediately couldn’t do as they only took place in the morning. Again, this would have been handy to know about beforehand. More frustrations, but at least our list was getting smaller!

I added everything I could from our list to the basket and then clicked to go to the checkout page and then literally cried real tears at the price. We thought we’d generously overestimated the price of everything but were so wrong it was genuinely frightening.

Our activities came to more than our share of the lodge. A couple of them we’d managed to call the price on but the rest were pretty much double, if not more, than anticipated. Again, I really really wish we’d seen the prices beforehand. We could have made different plans/choices and it wouldn’t have been so panicky and stressful on the day working out what we could and couldn’t do!

I trimmed the list to a more sensible state of affairs, then phoned Mark who was sat outside the school. This resulted in some more harsh truths and depressing realities.

Can you even climb? Will the boys care if we join in or if we just watch? If they make that can we even fit that in the car on the way home? Is that more for our enjoyment or for theirs? One of us can just stay with the bags for that activity…

Ah… the joys of adulting no one tells you about.

Worth the stress!

We decided to remove a bunch of activities and go with one for each day. Thankfully the booking calendar on the Center Parcs website was blissfully easy to navigate and by 8:55am I’d got 7 activities successfully booked.

  • Aerial adventure (not Loki)
  • Family Laser Combat (all of us)
  • Indoor Climbing (just the boys)
  • Archery (splitting up, 2 different activities)
  • Kayaking (no idea what we’ll end up with here but something is booked!)
  • Bowling (hopefully an hour is long enough for a game?!)
  • Mini Golf (first night activity sorted yay!)

Trying to keep those positive holiday vibes flowing, we cracked on…

Onwards and upwards

Feed me!

Stress levels started to lower and I logged back on to book meals. We were aiming for 2 meals out and 2 lunches. That didn’t go to plan either. Getting a table for 7 was pretty much impossible. We couldn’t get any lunches at all and our desired times for dinner went straight out the window!

By 9:10am, I’ll be honest, I needed a lie down. I had a video call with my Mum and then sadly discovered because I’d booked swimming for the 5 of us she couldn’t book swimming, which was a shame – that wasn’t clear at all when I booked the swim slots. (I spent over an hour on the phone the next day seeing if I could add them but there was no spaces available and rules is rules.)

The hard part was over though. The activities were all booked, we were all excited again and the countdown was on!

We’re really going to Center Parcs!

On reflection, the prices were a shock, yes, but for us (as a family of 5) to do 7 different activities (round our way) would have cost more! They all would have involved a lengthy drive (fuel) and extra pennies for parking/snacks/lunch/dinner while we were out etc… it all adds up and to be honest looking into it more now, some of them worked out cheaper to do at Center Parcs than to do elsewhere!

Next up I’ll be sharing the price list of our activities and a wee review for each one. Did the prices surprises you when you saw them? I’d love to know, please pop a comment below.

Jo 💚

Definitely worth the stress!

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