We had our first trip to Center Parcs in November 2019 staying in a 3 bed executive lodge. We went with two of our friends and our two children so a 3 bed lodge was the perfect size for us. None of us had been before so we tried reading and watching reviews and vlogs to learn what to expect and what we might want to book in advance. Booking activities is pretty easy to do so before you go and does seem to be recommended. Not much is free on site so if you want to fill your days with activities then it’s worth looking at what is available to do. You can watch our vlog of our holiday at the end of this post.
Longleat Forest is the closest Center Parcs location to us and it truly is beautiful. The forest is peacefull, there are waterfalls, valleys and breathtaking scenery. We had a lovely lodge close to the Cascades land train stop in the Fir area of the park and whilst it was a long walk to anything it was a really beautiful location.
Center Parcs Longleat forest is absolutely huge. It’s made me want to learn how to ride a bike to be honest because the landtrain got very full and bringing a pushchair around with us everywhere got quite frustrating especially as you have to have the pram folded down and you have a sleeping baby. The lake and beach are gorgeous by the sports plaza and as we were there for Winter Wonderland the village square looked absolutely stunning.
The plaza at Center parcs has all the main indoor action with the tropical paradise swimming pool, the venue which does productions and most of the resturants. There’s also a starbucks coffee shop, guest services and lots of little shops. The theming of the Plaza is absolutely amazing particularly in Las Iguanas which is my favourite place to eat anyway.
Food at Center Parcs is easy to come by wherever you are and whether you plan on eating out, eating in or self catering the entire trip. You have a fully stocked kitchen and outdoor BBQ space. The Parc Market is a supermarket in the Plaza with lots of options however, it can be expensive. The price point was similar to the Co-Op and some items are price matched to other supermarkets. There are options to buy pre selected packs and groceries online before you go and they will deliver it to your lodge for you which is good. If you do decide to shop on site and spend over £40 you can ask for it to be delivered back to your lodge for free.
We decided to eat out and on the first night booked Hucks American Diner which has an amazing play area for big kids, a small soft play area for little kids and a few iMac computers full of games. There are offers on the cocktails too (which are delicious) and you can get a soft drinks pitcher for just under £8 which is great value. We also ate at Bella Italia for lunch, Las Iguanas, The Pancake House and had afternoon tea at Cafe Rouge. One night back at the lodge we had a BBQ and we used the Dining-In delivery service too and had a takeaway. I was really, really impressed with the options available.
The only place I was a little disapointed with was The Pancake House. The food wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (although the milkshakes were amazing) and whilst it was fine, it was a little bland. We originally booked for the Magic Show but then decided to have a late night swim instead so ate there before heading back to the pool in the plaza.
We absolutely loved the swimming pool. Evie had an amazing time on the flumes, slides and lazy river. The wave pool is really strong and there are two lovely and warm whirlpools. There is an outside terrace pool which is nice and warm and then the highlight is the outdoor rapids which are a lot of fun. Personally I recommend swimming as late in the day as possible because it is very, very busy in the morning. We had a much better experience going after 12noon and then again after 7pm. Although one of us had to stay back with Felix and get him to bed, we all got the chance for a night swim which was lovely.
We also saw the Christmas Pantomime and went to Winter Wonderland. The pantomime was in The Venue which is accessible at the very back of the plaza. It’s essentially a big room with chairs and a small stage. There’s a bar for drinks and a buggy park. Our production was Aladdin and Evie sat right at the front on the ‘magic carpets’ and absolutely loved it. The show was split into two acts around 45 minutes each with a 15 minute interval. It was a very modern take on the classic Aladdin pantomime with a range of pop songs as well as a couple fun Aladdin ones. It was funny and the cast were really engaging with the kids which is what places like this are all about really. I think it was quite expensive, especially as we had to pay for a seat for Felix who was in his pram and then Adam had to take him back to the lodge after twenty minutes or so.
The Winter Wonderland area in the Village Square was amazing and absolutely worth a visit whether or not you are going to see Father Christmas. There are lots of places for family photos, festive pony rides and carriage rides. There is a lovely Christmas shop during the festive season and a stall selling hot plum cider and mulled wine. We had the cider and it was delicious and really warming.
We really did love walking around this area, especially at night, where it was lit up so beautifully. We got a new Christmas Tree decoration from the shop which I can’t wait to put on our tree. There was also a huge tree that you could walk under which looked so beautiful all lit up.
Overall we had a really lovely time visiting Center Parcs. We got some great footage in the swimming pool in the vlog below if you want to see even more of what we got up to!