The summer holidays. Love them or hate them, they are here and they are already pounding the bank accounts of parents across the country. The kids want to do exciting fun stuff. You want to get them out of the house to burn off their pent up energy, so that you aren't witnessing a tornado of mess in your freshly cleaned house. You just need to get out and make the most of the time you have... but that costs money and the bills need to be paid.
Finding new, cool AND FREE stuff to do with the kids is a hard job, especially when they have a full 6 weeks to fill and with unpredictable weather like ours. So what do you do?
London is full of Free (indoor and outdoor) stuff to do with kids all year round. If you can get to London for a day trip on the train, do it (plenty of cheap train fares and deals online, especially with a Family Rail Card).
We've found something available this Summer that is FREE and cool and will make you look like an awesome mum in the eyes of any sport mad child. It isn't a day long thing but it will fill some of your day up, it's indoors so perfect for rainy days and the kids will love the keepsake pictures at the end to show their mates and thank you for it... So if you have a sports fan in the family, THIS is a winner.
Sky Summer of Sport Studio at The O2
The O2 arena, London (situated in North Greenwich, in the old Millennium Dome) is a little village of madness all under one.... roof? tent? is it a tent? Anyway, the O2 house some of the most amazing shows in the UK, everybody knows that. But did you know that there is much more to do when inside. There are restaurants, Cineworld, clubs, pubs and interactive attractions throughout. So if you do go, make the most of it, there is loads to do for all the family. You can even walk over the top of the building... no really, you can.
This summer Sky have set up a free interactive Studio Tour inside the O2. Modelled on their working Sky Sports studio you can be filmed reading the news (sports or normal), try out your favourite sports on interactive simulators and get photographed with some of the stars from your favourite Sky shows.
What we did...
This week Kyd and I took a rare trip to London without Rocky, for some even rarer these days, Mummy Kyd time. After a trip to a few of our favourite places, we made our way to the O2 on the Jubilee Line and the excitement hit his face... then I realised he thought we were going to watch WWE again and so when I said it wasn't on, the disappointment set in. You see we only really go there for gigs or shows, so it was a bit confusing for him.
As we arrived he saw the Soccer AM target practice board. As a huge Soccer AM fan, who has actually had a go on this in their studios, he soon forgot about the WWE disappointment and ran over to have a go. He was greeted by a lovely smiley face who handed him the ball and explained that he had 3 shots and if he got one in he'd win a bracelet. His aim wasn't great and so, no bracelet for him but that was fine, you win some you lose some.
He wasn't too disheartened as next to it was a basketball net, he is pretty good at shooting hoops, so he had a go at that too. He hit the rim a few times and then a roaring cheer came out as the ball swirled around the rim and went in. He was gleaming with pride as he placed his silicone Sky bracelet on... I was just relieved that he got a bracelet :)
It wasn't too busy inside but it was 5pm and I suspect they would have had a few more in the queues for the attractions inside if we'd gone in earlier. However we didn't have to wait long for a go on each, which was perfect, as waiting is not Kyd's forte.
He made his way upstairs and spotted the Green Screen Machines. There we were given a card with a QR code on. After each picture was taken we had to hover (not touch) the QR code over the scanner and it would save onto the card so we could download them for free when we got home.... They are HILARIOUS, he was trying to match the scene with his facial expressions, moody, thinking, smug. We didn't do them 'all' because he refused to be involved in a Rugby picture or with a Chelsea player hahaha... fair enough though ey?!
We then hit the Sky News Booth. It is set up with a real news desk, autocue, camera and even a ew bits of paper to shuffle. Sadly our video didn't load onto the card so, I can't show you how awesome we were at reading the news about how awful Man Utd were (we changed the story a bit and went freestyle rather than autocue lead). I think maybe double check your cards work before you leave. They have iPads on stands in which you can do this, I just hadn't thought of it at the time.
The games upstairs were awesome. The interactive simulators for F1 and Golf were his favourite, which shocked me as they had Fifa on the PlayStation at the other end. He was scarily really good at Golf. After the first few attempts, he picked it up and hit that ball like a pro. The people in the queue behind him were so impressed. He won himself a lolly for being awesome. The F1 simulator was really impressive. Think arcade games with proper F1 seats. He picked that up really quickly too and was a whizz at reversing hahaha.
What we thought...
The attraction is really well set out and easy to find your way around. It is quite small so I suspect in busy periods that may not feel the same way. Each activity was manned by staff and easily explained. There were smiles at every station which was lovely to see so late in the day.
There was enough to do for an hour or so but once you've added in the queue times in busy periods I'd double that.
If you aren't a sports fan then it won't be as exciting but if you want them to check out new sports and spark an interest, this is a great starting point.
It isn't really designed for small children and there is an age restriction on some of the activities for health and safety reasons. Children HAVE to be accompanied by a parent to use any of the activities. I'd stick to the green screens with the smaller ones and let the older ones go upstairs to the games (accompanied by an adult only).
The staff there were very attentive. They explained the different attractions really well and with a smile at all times. There were a few teens in there being a bit loud and they dealt with them so politely and professionally that I had to smile at it. They didn't patronise Kyd either. You often find that people see a SEN child and explain things in a really slow way, like they're deaf or in 2 word sentences like their foreign. It was lovely to see them laughing and joking together and helping him in a natural way and I'd like to thank them for that.
Over all the Sky Summer of Sport Studio was a great gap filler activity for the holidays and the O2 arena was a great venue for it as there is other indoor things to do on rainy days.
Sky Studios is open every day except Christmas Day. It's free and there's no need to book.
Opening hours are:
O2 arena event days: 12-8pm.
See when these are and what's on at The O2.
O2 arena non-event days: 12-6pm.
Bank and school holidays: 11am-7pm.
Free Entry Free Photo Downloads
Friendly Staff Fun Games Great Venue
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