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With the rain lashing down on Sunday afternoon, it was the perfect day for our first visit to The Red Dragon Centre in a long time. In line with Welsh regulations, the Cardiff Bay entertainment complex – home to an 18 screen ODEON IMAX cinema, 26 lane bowling centre, 24-hour casino, gym, and various restaurants, bars and cafes – opened its doors again on Monday 17 May, with a host of measures to keep visitors Covid-safe.
We arrived at 2pm for an afternoon at the cinema followed by food, and were pleased to see clear signposts as to which doors to use to enter and exit the building and signs on the floor outlining the one way system and social distancing markers. Hand sanitiser is available, extra cleaning measures are in place, visitors can log their visit via the NHS Covid 19 app, and visitor numbers are limited. In line with latest Welsh Government regulations, visitors must observe social distancing and hygiene measures and those aged 11+ must wear face masks. You can read the full steps the centre has taken here.
Peter Rabbit 2 at the Odeon, Cardiff Bay
Our first stop was the Odeon cinema to see Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. As a family of film-lovers, we have really missed the cinema during lockdown so we were super excited to be back at the big screen. We’d been looking forward to seeing Peter Rabbit 2 for more than a year now, with Covid affecting its original release, so it was great to see cinemas having such a strong film for their opening week.
We all thought it was brilliant. It’s a perfect blend of funny and feel-good and will appeal to all ages.
James Corden returns to voice the role of Peter, in this part-CGI, part-live action film. Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson return as newly-weds Bea and Thomas McGregor, who are now living happily with their rabbits, and selling Bea’s self-published Peter Rabbit book in their quaint toy shop. However, when hot-shot publisher Nigel Basil Jones (David Oyelowo) tries to woo Bea and her books, she must decide whether his far-fetched, commercial ideas to send the bunnies on adventures into space sit with her own creative vision for her much-loved animals.
Meanwhile, the publishing deal is bad news for Peter, who can’t shake his reputation as troublemaker. Fearing he’ll never escape this label, he runs away, meets an old friend of his father, and falls in with a gang of street animals who want to put his creative mischief to use in a daring heist. The resulting adventure makes for great viewing, as Peter questions his loyalties and decides what kind of bunny he wants to be.
There’s plenty for youngsters with slapstick humour and cartoon violence, plus plenty for the grown ups too, including a repeated joke about Peter having an annoying voice (a criticism often levelled at Corden) and a meta joke about the pressure to turn the characters into something completely different in the quest for commercial success. This film is certainly sticking its finger up to critics who derided the first film for doing just that.
I was feeling a little nervous about being inside such a large indoor venue for the first time post-lockdown, but everything felt really safe and you could see all the safety measures in place.
While you need to wear face masks as you enter and walk around the cinema, you can remove them when you are seated. The cinemas are operating at a reduced capacity with guaranteed unoccupied seats between parties to ensure distancing. When we visited there was at least one empty row between all the people present during our visit and no one else in our row. Screening times are also staggered to reduce queues. You can pre-book via the website or buy tickets with the machines in the cinema foyer.
Pre-packaged food and drink are available at the kiosk as usual although it’s worth noting that the pick and mix is currently closed. Cash is not currently accepted but the contactless limit has been increased. You can also now pre-order your favourite cinema treats such as popcorn and hot dogs in advance with Order and Collect on the MyOdeon app. This means no need to queue; your food and drinks will be ready for you at a dedicated collection point. More information here.
Other family films you can watch at the Odeon over half term include Cruella (12A, released 28 May); Godzilla Vs Kong (12A, released 28 May); Raya and the Last Dragon (PG, released 1 June); and Dream Horse (PG, released 4 June).
A family meal at Volcano Japanese
Following the film, we were invited to Volcano Japanese, the newest restaurant at The Red Dragon Centre. Like other restaurants in the complex, Volcano offers a great all-you-can-eat deal in the evenings, priced £23.99 per adult, half price for children under 140cm and free for children under 3. (See the restaurant’s website for full terms and conditions of the offer. Lunch time sees a different a la carte menu, again see the website for details.)
The décor inside was a blend of contemporary and traditional Japanese, with striking art work on the walls, imitation Japanese blossom trees… and really beautiful basins in the bathrooms.
With more than 100 choices on the menu, and lots of dishes not familiar to us, we weren’t quite sure where to start with our choices. Thankfully owner Mrs Lin was able to offer plenty of suggestions and we settled on a mixture of smaller starters and side dishes to share, and bigger main dishes.
The gyoza, spring rolls and mushroom skewers were popular with all of us. For the main course, my children loved their noodle/rice-based dishes – in fact the portions were really generous so my daughter and I shared the vegetable noodles and the various side dishes, and my husband helped our sons with their beef and chicken dishes as well as polishing off his own steak teppanyaki. The restaurant caters for dietary requirements but it’s worth chatting with staff before ordering as it’s not always clear on the menu.
You can view Volcano’s menu and opening hours here.
Half term bowling offer
If you’re visiting over half term, then do check The Red Dragon Centre’s website for information on which venues are open (some are making final preparations or have changed their opening hours).
If you fancy 10 pin bowling at Hollywood Bowl, then there’s 50% off if you book in advance and bowl before 11am between 29 May and 6 June. Book at www.hollywoodbowl.co.uk and use code EARLYBIRD2150.
Parking is free for customers at The Red Dragon Centre – spend over £6 to enjoy six hours of free parking. You’ll need to provide your vehicle registration along with proof of purchase to the relevant restaurant/cinema/bowling. See the website for full terms and conditions.
Do you have half term plans to visit The Red Dragon Centre? Let me know in the comments below or on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page.
Thanks to The Red Dragon Centre, Odeon and Volcano for inviting us to visit.