Things to do: Southbank Centre and Namco Funscape

A dinosaur show, sushi train for lunch and arcade games. Sounds like an ideal way to spend a day during half-term! You can do all this with a visit to Southbank Centre (London) and Namco Funscape!

Date Visited: 21st February 2020

Location:  Southbank Centre – Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX and Namco Funscape – County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, Bishop’s, London SE1 7PB

Getting There: Plenty of options and easier without a car. You can visit Southbank by bus, Underground (Waterloo, Southwark or Westminster), National Rail (Charing Cross). There’s also the ferry along the Thames. 

Cost: Tickets for Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live show was £44 for three of us, with another £20 spent at Namco (although more could’ve been spent there!). Add in lunch at Yo! Sushi, and it was about £100 all in for the day out.  

Southbank Centre – Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live review: 

Our first visit to the Southbank Centre to actually watch a performance. Southbank Centre normally hold events for kids during the school holidays, and this one was its annual “Imagine Children’s Festival”. We were due to be in Italy this week for some snow, however Cara was unwell to travel and spent most of last week in bed at home. So, a quick last minute search of what to do now that she was better brought up this festival. With so many shows and options, we decided to go with Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live, which was based in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. As it was half-term, plenty of kids around and we ended up towards the back of the theatre. 

Southbank Centre ABC Dad 01 Southbank Centre ABC Dad 02

The Hall itself was spacious and organised, accessible amenities and refreshments. As the tickets were booked in the morning, we weren’t quite sure what to expect of the show. The show has a good mix of humour for the adults and children. Good to hear the Aussie accent from our ‘guide’ at the dinosaur zoo. Starts off with the baby dinosaurs, and works its way up to the teenage T-rex. Quite realistic puppetry and decent flow to the story. Best part for the kids is the chance to participate in the show and going up on stage to interact with the various dinosaurs. If your kids are very keen on dinosaurs, be sure to book seats closer to the stage for a better chance of being selected.

Southbank Centre ABC Dad 03 Southbank Centre ABC Dad 04

The show runs for approximately 50 minutes, which was decent for Cara. She was getting a little restless by the end. Not sure if it was because she was getting hungry, or if the dinosaurs appeared to be the same after a while. It was engaging and educational, and Cara enjoyed it. After the show, you get to meet and pat the baby dinosaurs. It was a bit chaotic as the kids (and parents) just crowded around them. With a little patience, Cara had her opportunity. 

Southbank Centre ABC Dad 05

Namco Funscape

After a stopover at Yo! Sushi for some food, we walked down to Namco Funscape. Along the way, you can enjoy the various street performers, which drew Cara’s attention for about 15 minutes. We also had a quick ride on the merry-go-round before continuing to Namco Funscape.

Yo! Sushi ABC Dad

I originally heard about it when researching potential Christmas party ideas for work. Now at least I get to enjoy it with Cara! It offers arcade games (which also now includes VR Mario Kart), bumper cars, bowling, pool, table tennis and a bar. After doing a lap to gather our bearings, Cara grabbed a couple of £1 coins and proceeded to play some games. We tried Connect 4, some water shooting game, bumper cars and claw machines. But her favourite was the random drop machines to collect tickets. Cara hit the jackpot first go with the fishbowl, collecting a cool 500 tickets! We spent about an hour there playing, and probably another 15 minutes while Cara decided what to spend her tickets on. If we’re in the area again, I’m sure we’ll be back.

 Namco Funscape ABC Dad 01 Namco Funscape ABC Dad 02 Namco Funscape ABC Dad 03

What else is there to do?

Being London, there’s plenty of things to see and do, including:

  • Sea-Life Aquarium – after a show and lunch, the aquarium is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon
  • London Eye – perhaps one for when the weather is warmer or the sky is clearer (although never guaranteed in the UK), it provides a great view across the city. 
Tips
  1. There’s plenty of family-friendly food options available along Southbank, however with so many families around during half-term, lunch time does get busy. Best bet is to have a slightly earlier lunch to beat the rush and queues.
  2. If you’re planning to visit more than one main attraction, check the cost of purchasing individual entry tickets against buying in bulk
  3. Bring some loose change if you do stop by to watch the street performers. Some are actually very entertaining!
  4. Book early – As mentioned, there’s plenty of other shows and activities as part of the festival. We wanted to try out the Soundpit, which involves sand play with music and lights, but unfortunately it was sold out. Hopefully it’s on again next year!   

For other school holiday ideas, you can visit my other blog about Summer Holidays 2019

More info: 

Southbank Centre – https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/ 

Namco Funscape – https://namcofunscape.com/london

Ratings:

Burn Time: 5 out of 5 – we could have spent longer at Namco Funscape, and watched more shows at the Imagine Children Festival.
Value: 3 out of 5 –
as with most day outs in London, it all adds up. 
Overall: 4 out of 5 –
great seeing Cara running around being a kid!

Have you visited Southbank Centre or Namco Funscape? Do you or your child have a favourite game there? Let me know in the comments below!

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