Our weekend expedition to Stoke-on-Trent began on Friday with a stop-off of three hours at Waterworld, or at least it did for Liam and me, as Ross walked to the hotel as he couldn’t cope with too much excitement. There aren’t many photos as for obvious reasons, the venue doesn’t want them being taken, although judging from reviews a few people have decided that they would take them anyway.
It’s quite an impressive setup from the outside, but all of this element is a relatively new add-on from a few years ago. There are something like ten water slides in the whole arrangement and we had carefully ensured that we were going off-peak when kids were at school.
Visitors get very different experiences depending on when they go, as it seems to be operating at near capacity during most school holidays and nearly empty during school terms. We didn’t have to wait for any slide at any time, but reviews suggest that there are long queues for every ride during school holidays. There’s also apparently a lack of space in the pools generally, it must all be far more stressful during these busy periods.
We had booked reduced priced tickets in advance, but there’s an extra charge for car parking and also to use a locker. All included, it came to £20 each for us and we were able to spend over three hours in the pool. Again, during busier periods, they do ask people to leave after being there for a certain amount of time.
Liam and I have different styles to things such as this. He likes thrill seeking and throwing himself down slides at the fastest possible speed, whereas I prefer a more leisurely and calm approach to matters. I’ve also somehow forgotten how to swim over the years, which has meant that one slide was off limits to me, although I can’t say that I was that concerned about that. Another slide was off limit to me as it looked far too frightening and that’s the Thunderbolt, which the owners themselves say is an “adrenaline experience”. To Liam, that sounded exciting, whereas to me it sounded like one big stress.
My lack of wanting to go down the slides at a breakneck pace meant that one of the staff at one point had to push me down as I was going so slowly I managed to just stop, not a problem that Liam faced as he went charging down. On that matter, all of the staff were friendly and helpful, with plenty of them on-hand to prevent anyone from drowning. There were lots of whistles being blown throughout the day for anyone transgressing the rules, but nothing looked like it was near to disaster.
The on-line reviews are quite exciting to read through, or at least, as exciting as these things can be. Plenty of people complaining about queueing, overcrowding, too much chlorine and safety issues. I can’t say that I saw anything that I considered unsafe and it all seemed clean to me, although goodness knows how high their water and energy bills must be. Reports of an hour wait to use each slide are perhaps exaggerated, but there are lots of complaints about people pushing in. I must admit, being British that would irritate me.
There is a restaurant area by the side of the pool which we didn’t have any need to use, but the prices looked quite high. I remember going to Aquatica in Florida a few years ago with my friend Rob, and they positively encouraged visitors with low prices to keep them in restaurants and make space in their water park. The outdoor swimming pool was closed during our visit, but everything else was open, although some of the rides opened in rotation to keep staffing levels down.
I decided that my favourite slide was the Stormchaser, which they describe as a thrill ride, so I consider that sufficiently brave. For anyone interested, they have videos of all of the slides at https://www.waterworld.co.uk/rides/. I’d probably go back at some point in the future if the opportunity arose and Liam seems keen to go back with his family later in the year, although I think that’s primarily as he wants to throw himself down the slides again.