A rainy Sunday morning at 11.30am, and it’s no surprise that Hollywood Bowl is filled with families. Ten pin bowling is the perfect inter-generational activity, and with the Cardiff Bay Hollywood Bowl having recently undergone a £150,000 makeover, we were excited to be invited along for a game.
Upon entering the alley, which is housed in the Red Dragon Centre, it was immediately obvious that it’d had a refurb. The brick walls with neon pink Hollywood sign at either end of the bowling lanes looked great, as did the new seating areas and carpets. The bar has had a refit too – although with three children aged 5.5 and under, I’m afraid I didn’t really get the chance to put it to the test!
You don’t have to wear bowling shoes anymore either, provided you’re wearing flats. However, Little Miss E, my 5.5 year old daughter, and Little Man O, my 3¾ year old son, both insisted on putting on the special shoes – it’s all part of the bowling experience, after all!
We were treated to a VIP alley. These weren’t massively different to the regular lanes, but we did like the luxury seating areas and giant-sized images of legends including Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley, and it was nice to be at the edge of the alley, where it was a little less busy. Our balls were different to the other aisles too, looking more like over-sized pool balls and amazingly shiny and new-looking.
Once we’d set up the scoring computer, we were reading to roll. The centre is really well-equipped for children, with lots of light-weight balls available, a ramp for them to roll the ball down directly onto the lane, and the option of having guards at the edge of the lane so that the ball never falls into the gutter (and yes, that is the technical term for it. I Googled it!)
Cardiff Daddy and I weren’t sure how Baby Boy I would get on at bowling. He’s only 16 months old and although he is a very chilled out little boy, we weren’t sure if it’d be too loud and overwhelming for him. It wasn’t at all. He absolutely loved it! He soon got the hang of pushing the balls down the ramp while we held him and he loved watching the pins falling down. He is at that age where he doesn’t want to stay still though, so we did have to stop him trying to run down the lane a few times.
Something I love about bowling with my family is that my children are young that there’s not too much of a competitive edge. They’re genuinely thrilled for each other when they do well, and they were full of high fives for me and Cardiff Daddy whenever we got a good score.
I would like it on record that I got a strike and a spare (when you knock all the pins down using both rolls in a single frame). We’ll pretend the round where I scored zero didn’t happen.
Amazingly, Little Miss E and Little Man O managed to score the exact same number of points to come joint first so we’ll never know if we would have had any sore losers or not. Cardiff Daddy was next, followed by me, with Baby in last position. He didn’t seem to mind though!
It took us about 45 minutes to play one game, and that was long enough for the three of them. I think another game would have been too much.
We then made our way to the bowling centre’s restaurant, Harry’s Kitchen for lunch. The food was exactly what you would imagine in a place like this – nachos, burgers, hot dogs, skinny fries and so on. Aside from a salad bowl, there wasn’t anything especially healthy on the menu. My children opted for macaroni cheese, a hot dog and a burger. I had a vegetarian burger and Cardiff Daddy opted for the beef burger. You can choose from five different ways to have your burger served, including mushrooms with blue cheese and onion rings, and fiery tomato and chilli relish with sliced cheese and jalapeno peppers. In fairness, the burgers looked and tasted great. Served on wooden boards and piled full of the various toppings, we were both really impressed.
From there, we wandered around the arcade and slot machines. Little Miss E and Little Man O adored the penny slider machines (although long-gone are the days when they took 1 or 2ps; it’s all 10ps these days!). Armed with five shiny 10p coins each, Little Man O had an early win of two more coins and Miss E won two shiny plastic gold keyrings, which they think are the best things ever.
With prices starting at or £4.50 for children, £5.50 for adults or £18 for a family of four, it’s not the cheapest family day out. On the plus side though, parking is free for customers at the Red Dragon Centre provided you get your ticket validated. For a special treat or celebration, it’s brilliant fun. There’s something about the atmosphere of bowling – the clinking of the balls as they hit the pins, the cheers from other lanes when someone else gets a strike – that makes it impossible not to enjoy.
For more information on Hollywood Bowl, Cardiff, visit the website. The centre will be running family fun weekends on August 1st and 2nd, and the Bank Holiday weekend, August 29th-31st, with face painting, balloons, treasure hunts and glow bowling available when you book a lane between 12pm and 4pm.
I’m so excited to be working with Hollywood Bowl, Cardiff Bay to offer one lucky Cardiff Mummy Says reader an amazing prize! One winner will receive a game of bowling for a family of four, as well as a family platter meal at Harry’s Kitchen. To win, just write your answer to the following question on my Facebook page.
Q. In which leisure complex is Hollywood Bowl Cardiff Bay based?
The closing date for entries is midnight, Monday 3rd August 2015. Good luck!
Disclaimer: Hollywood Bowl, Cardiff Bay gave us a game of family bowling and lunch at Harry’s Kitchen for the purposes of review.
You can see all my reviews and ideas of family days out in Cardiff here.