We have been going to Center Parcs every year since Mojo was born. It was the first ever family holiday we went on. I have so many vivid memories of our time there over the years, amazing highs, like the first time Mojo went swimming and the occassional terrifying low, like the emergency run to A&E to get an NG tube put in because she had become so unwell we knew she needed it. Nothing however has ever spoiled my love of the experience, the joy of family time, exhausted happy children and putting the world to rights over a bottle (or two) of an evening.
This September we returned to Center Parcs in Woburn for the first time in two years. Mojo starting school meant that we missed last year because of the unavoidable peak season prices. An extra week’s holiday this summer thanks to a school move allowed us to book a 4 night stay out of peak holiday season.
Because it has been a couple of years since we were last there Mojo’s physical needs have developed quite significantly and whereas previously we have been able to carry her up and down stairs and use baby change tables etc things are quite different now. I wasn’t really sure how we would find it this year, given that we are now entirely reliant on accessible facilities.
As it turned out I had nothing to worry about. At all, actually.
I was frankly a bit in awe of the accessibility. On arrival we decided to hire a bike and trailer, thinking it would be the best (if not exactly ideal) option for Mojo. At the cycle centre we were able to hire, with no prior booking, a perfect Duet bike which supported mojo in a seat on the front of my bike. She absolutely loved it, as did I.
We had booked last minute so by that time no disabled accommodation had been available but as our the accommodation was all on one level it wasn’t a problem. I did notice that there seemed to be plenty of accessible lodges, with parking and ramps.
One of my biggest frustrations with inclusion and accessibility is the way in which on the rare occasions it is provided it often feels very much like an afterthought. At Center Parcs however the inclusivity feels natural, in built and well considered. Maps clearly display step free routes, gates are all easily manoeuvrable with a wheelchair, and the changing facilities, Oh I could write poetry about the changing facilities.
Mojo had always been a water baby, she loves to swim and has hydrotherapy sessions since she was a baby. It’s great for her hips and fantastic physio. The problem we have at pools is always changing facilities, trying to change a 5 year old on a baby change table is difficult/impossible so the other option is the floor. The wet, often dirty, draughty floor. Not so at Center Parcs.
The first time we needed to change Mojo while we were out and about was at The Plaza. Daddy was on nappy duty and he came out announcing that there was a full size adult change table in the toilet, and a hoist. Then at the pool later that day ANOTHER completely appropriate change facility, a change bed, shower, toilet, hoist. It was heaven. I was like a kid at Disneyland (except not because, fun fact, Disney don’t do public toilets with hoists and tables).
The major thing about these kinds of facilities is that it makes us feel welcome, it makes us feel like they want us to be there and they want us to enjoy ourselves. So we did.
The girls did a range of activities from mini ballerinas to (fully wheelchair accessible) woodland mini golf. They thoroughly enjoyed the Teddy Bear’s Picnic which they were able to do together. Now I didn’t see this one for myself as I was busy that morning (cough..in the spa) but I’m reliably informed that the man that ran the session was brilliantly inclusive without being patronising and the giant Bramble Bear who met the kids at the end was able to read the reactions and keep his distance from Mojo who is not a fan of adults-dressed-as-animals in general.
Playgrounds are always a bit of a bust for Mojo, there’s very little she can make use of but even here Center Parcs was able to impress. There were accessible swings and ramps on to some of the play equipment. There are improvements that could be make to provide a truly accessible play area, like a wheelchair seesaw or a wheelchair swing but as it stands it certainly wasn’t as frustrating as your standard trip to the park.
To be honest I don’t think that the accessibility of Woburn is something we were the first to discover. There were many children and young people with disabilities we met during our stay. I can see why. For us to find a holiday location where we can all play together, eat together and relax together was genuinely exciting and to find it somewhere we have always loved was a huge bonus.
Nicely done Center Parcs, see you next year.
P.S could we have an accessibility guide for the kids activities next time please, we weren’t sure which ones would and wouldn’t work for Mojo so we played it safe this time but now you’ve raised our expectations…thanks.
Oh and for the record this isn’t a sponsored post, it’s just what I think!!