The (weirdest) school holidays (ever) are almost over so I decided to take the boys on one final treat day. After looking at the various options available, we decided to visit Coral Reef Waterworld in Bracknell. I’d actually seen it through the trees when we visited the Look Out Discovery Centre and had been intrigued. This review of Coral Reef Waterworld was written whilst some covid-19 restrictions (and therefore closures) were still in place.
The first thing you notice about Coral Reed Waterworld is how popular it must be. At the entrance there are signs above the canopy telling you how long the wait is to get it. Those signs range from 30 – 90 minutes. Sorry, but I’m not sure I’d wait 90 minutes to get into a swimming pool, no matter how great it is! I’m very grateful that when we visited Coral Reed Waterworld to do this review it was pre-booking only. We only had to wait a few minutes before our session started to get in.
During peak times (weekends and school holidays) you only get a guaranteed 90 minute slot. If it happened to be quiet then you might get longer, but don’t count on it. The water slides are only operating during peak times (weekends, holidays and Fridays after school by the look of it).
The changing village
The changing village is massive, with a terrifying number of lockers (another hint of the popularity of this place). They had plenty of family, double and single changing rooms and they all seemed relatively clean. There are loos within the changing village and, for swimming pool loos, they weren’t too bad.
The toddler area
Smallest Child wasn’t with us when we went to Coral Reef Waterworld but we had a look around the toddler area so I could include it in the review. There’s a little splash pad area, lots of water toys and drench buckets. There are also a couple of little slides in this area. One thing to bear in mind if you have kids of multiple ages is that the toddler area is separated from the main pool by a massive pirate ship and there’s zero visibility between the two. I guarantee that Smallest Child would have loved this bit and I’m not sure I would have been able to drag her away from it!
The pirate ship
How cool is this? A pirate ship, in a swimming pool! You can climb into the ship (if you’re under 7), slide down the slide and shoot the water cannons (when they’re working, which isn’t all of the time). It looks cool, but there isn’t really a lot to “do” in it.
The main pool
The main leisure pool is lovely and warm! It’s also quite deep. The deepest part is 1.35 meters apparently, and I’d say the majority of the pool is that depth. Middle Child couldn’t touch the bottom and keep his head above water. Biggest Child could touch the bottom, but almost all of his head was covered. Something to bear in mind for less confident swimmers. I actually didn’t see anyone using a noodle or flotation device in there which was a bit surprising.
There are various areas to the main pool. There’s a couple of jacuzzis, water cannons, including two very powerful snakes, the very fast Disco Island Rapid Channel and a slower lazy river that goes outside. At the back of the pool (and currently the main exit from the slides) is a ruined Greek temple and a ton of other water jets and water falls. All the channels, lazy river and water jets do create some surprisingly strong currents for a swimming pool. Walking from the slides to the steps is some seriously good exercise!
When we visited the outdoor lazy river was closed, as was one of the jacuzzis. The other was limited to one bubble at a time. Social bubble, not just one air bubble – that would be rubbish!
Part way through our session an alarm starts going off. I was gutted! A bloomin’ fire alarm! I really wasn’t relishing the idea of standing outside, on the main road, in my cossie when Berkshire’s firemen (and women) arrived! A couple of people next to us started murmuring about it too. The staff didn’t seem to be doing much though. Then an announcement comes over the tannoy shouting a warning! Turns out there was about to be a volcanic eruption!! Just behind the Greek ruins is this thing that I hadn’t paid much attention to. Turns out it’s supposed to be a volcano.. Every so often this goes off and OMG it’s powerful when it does. Cue lots of screaming and giggling as everyone dashes to either get under, or away from, the torrent of water shooting from the volcano. It’s hilarious.
The water slides
There is no point in doing a review of Coral Reef Waterworld and not talking about the slides in detail. For obvious reasons I couldn’t get any photos etc but there are some videos on their website that kind of give you a feel for the slides. There are 5 slides in total; The Canon, Aqua Splash, Storm Chaser, Poseidon’s Peril and Maelstrom. The Cannon and Aqua Splash have the shortest queues because you don’t need a raft to go down them. Storm Chaser, Poseidon’s Peril and Maelstrom all require rafts. You can either have a single or a double raft, which you collect from the near the pool and have to carry up. The boys loved going down the slides together. I was quite happy going down by myself so I could scream if necessary!
A couple of the rides have an epilepsy warning because of flashing lights. To ride alone you must be 1.2m. Some of the rides allow shorter children to travel with an adult. Some also have a minimum age of 8. For the smallest visitors Aqua Splash is realistically the only one they can go on.
The tower to get to the slides is surprisingly warm. I’ve stood in too many freezing cold towers over the years, so that was very much appreciated. There were signs up saying “from this point it’s a 30 minute wait”! Sod that! If you’re on a 90 minute slot and there’s a 30 minute wait per slide then that’s only 3 rides before you have to go home! Thankfully we only had to wait maybe 10 minutes at the most. In our slot we rode the waterslides at least 8/9 times. Maybe more. I lost track in all the excitement.
One of the only times I’ve sworn in front of the kids is after coming off this slide! I genuinely thought I was going to drown at the end of it. This is a very fast, raft-less slide. It starts with a practically vertical drop and there are large sections that are pitch black. When you shoot out the end (like a canon ball) you actually stay under water for a bit. I was all a bit dazed and confused at this point, didn’t really know that I had reached the end and instead just wondered if I’d reached the end.
When I finally realised I had to stand up the boys asked me what I thought? “Bloody terrifying” was the only response I came up with whilst shaking like a leaf. You should have seen Biggest Child’s face – I never say anything even remotely bad around the kids (at least not out loud). You’ll be pleased to know that the second time it’s much less scary. Well, a bit less scary at least!
This is the most gentle of the water slide at Coral Reef Waterworld. You don’t need a raft and children under 1.2m must go down it with you. This one a a fairly standard (aka absolutely acceptable) water slide! No swearing involved.
A rafted slide and probably the most gentle of the rafted ones. It’s basically a bit like Aqua Splash but faster and with the raft. Over 1.2m + 8 years can ride alone. Under 1.2m or 8 years can ride with an adult as long as they can sit in the raft and hold onto the handles unaided. You can customise this slide and choose the music and lights you want as you go down it.
The one was possibly my favourite of the five waterslides at Coral Reef Waterworld. It’s definitely the longest – you go out a different side from the rest of the slides, outside, through the building, through a cone, along some tunnels, through another cone, though a water cascade and then finally out again. Did I mention that it’s pitch black inside the cones and that you’re swished every which way – leading to the distinct possibility that you’ll finish the ride backwards? The pitch black swishing was very freaky at first but actually I loved this one and did it a couple of times.
This one is quite short in terms of distance travelled, but it’s still a decent length in terms of time. The main reason for this is because most of your time is spent swilling around this giant disk whilst aquatic pictures are being projected on the wall. It’s nice because it isn’t dark so you can just enjoy the ride. Again, there is a risk that you’ll end up coming out of this backwards, but it’s gentle enough that I was able to turn my raft around whilst I was circling to go down the drain!
Our Coral Reef Waterworld Review
We had sooo much fun. The amount of time spent queuing for the slides didn’t feel too bad because most of it was spent excited chattering about the ride we’d just come off of. We might have only been on it for about 60 seconds, but we could spend at least 15 minutes discussing it!! The vast majority of our time was spent either queuing for a waterslide, battling our way through the main pool to rejoin the queue or riding one. We didn’t really spend a huge amount of our time just swimming around. It is a high adrenaline place when the slides are running and time just flew.
Quote from Middle Child “Poseidon’s Peril is amazing, I suggest going on that one first!” Personally I think it’s hard to settle on a favourite. They’re all fun and terrifying. Like a roller coaster but with the added uncertainty of aquatic based peril!
Coral Reef Waterworld Review for toddlers
This is probably a better treat day for older kids than it is for younger ones. There’s only one big slide that they can go on so, in my opinion you’re better off taking toddlers to the sessions without the slides, and without the hefty price tag.
The one thing I haven’t mentioned in this review of Coral Reef Waterworld is the price. When the slides are running it is EXPENSIVE. 2A + 2C or 1A + 3C is £46 when booked online or £54 walk-up. Individual prices are £15.80 per adult and £11.20 per child (under 5’s are free). Don’t forget, at peak times (is when the slides are running) you’re only guaranteed a 90 minute session.
When the water slides aren’t running it’s significantly cheaper. £6.95 for adults and £4.80 for 5-15 years, under 5’s are free.
Parking / How to get there
Address – Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7JQ
Parking – There is a car park on site. You can get a refund of up to 5 hours from reception. One sign, and their website, says it’s £3 for 5 hours and £5 all day. Another sign in the car park said £4 for 5 hours and £6 all day. We were given a parking voucher when we arrived so I have no idea how much parking is, but you get your money back! I wonder if part of the reason for the parking charge is that it’s right across the road from The Look Out Discovery Centre and Swinley Forest? I’m guessing some people park here and walk across to the forest?
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook