Review: Kids bowling party at Hollywood Bowl

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t enjoy bowling, it is certainly something which can be enjoyed by all age groups.
Emmy had been bowling only twice before and we hadn’t gotten around to taking Harry yet but had been meaning to, you know how it is time runs out and before you know it the school holidays or the weekend is over.
Hollywood Bowl recently got in touch to ask if they could throw us an ultimate children’s birthday party to celebrate Emmy’s 6th birthday at their newly refurbished Basildon site, of course even though her birthday had passed she was overjoyed by the idea of being able to bowl with her friends.
The kids birthday parties are aimed at children aged between 5 and 10 years of age, although we did have some younger than this in our party and 2 older as well but it didn’t hinder the experience for anyone as they all had an amazing time.
The ultimate kids birthday package includes:
  • 2 hours of non-stop fun, including 1 hour of unlimited bowling
  • Mini bowlers meal served in the party area
  • Jug of squash to drink during the game and another after the game in the party area
  • Dedicated party host
  • Lanes decked out with balloons
  • Framed photo of the party
  • Free game voucher for every child
  • Party invites – collect for free or have posted for £3.99
The prices for this party are from £9.99 each Monday-Friday and £11.99 each Saturday and Sundays.
Booking our party was easy and days before the event I was emailed to find out the children’s meal choices – they could choose from: Burger, Pizza, Hotdog and Nuggets which were all served with fries.  I was also able to let them know which children were to be on each lane and the bowling order so this was all set up ready for our arrival, which is obviously a time saver.
Arcades, Hollywood bowl, bowling party
Upon arrival I was introduced to our party host and then we could wander around until our whole party had arrived.  The is a lovely food/diner area with plenty of seating where you can wait and grab a drink or just chat or there is an arcade area to explore which is where most of our party made a beeline for.

When everyone had arrived we were shown to our lanes, upon booking a party you have the option to upgrade to special VIP lanes which are the closest lanes to the party area for food later on, these lanes are the newly refurbished lanes set up with fluorescent bowling pins, new stylish balls and under seat lighting to make the whole experience a little more fun.  It costs an extra £1 per person to move to this section but in my opinion it is worth is for the whole added party feel.

VIP lanes, Hollywood bowl, Basildon, kids party package, review

We had 11 children bowling in our party with ages ranging from 2 years up to 14 years, I put the older children who had bowled before on the same lane so they were able to just get on with it without much help from us so we could then concentrate on helping the younger ones and those who hadn’t bowled before, I did place Harry on the lane with the pros though so the older teenagers could help him if he needed it.  We had 2 lanes – 1 lane with 5 children and the other with 6.

The bumpers were placed up for our games but if you wanted you could have your party host lower these for the more experienced bowlers out there, we also had 2 ramps which we could use and all of the younger children used this, well at least to start.

With the children’s names already pre-set in the bowling order our party host talked those who hadn’t bowled before through the rules – don’t step over the line, no running, don’t place you hand inside the ball machine etc. and gave them a few tips – line the ramp up into the centre, use a heavier ball on the ramp than if you were to bowl it without.   Then it was time for the fun to begin.

Bowling party, kids ultimate bowling party, kids bowling party hollywood bowl
Absolutely everyone had an amazing time, from those who had been bowling many times before to the beginners who were playing for the first time.
With an hours unlimited bowling we found that the lane with 5 children in, the older ones (and Harry) were able to play a game and a bit before the time was up – they may have got two games in if Harry was a little faster and didn’t keep wandering off instead of playing his turn – this of course frustrated the older ones but they were very good with him.  The lane with more children in (6) was only able to play one game during this time as they were beginners and needed help but it was enough for them and I think if they had had another game boredom would have set in especially for the very young ones who by this time were wandering and dancing around, and of course were very hungry and ready for their lunch.
Bowling fun, Hollywood bowl
A note to anyone booking a bowling party with young children – don’t think 12pm is a great time for a party as I did because by 12.30 they are all over hungry and moaning they want their food, whoops, bad planning on my part as lunch wasn’t being served until after their game finished around 1.10pm.
As we knew what time the children’s game would finish the adults took the opportunity towards the beginning of play to pre-order our lunch, children’s food is included in the party price but adults will need to order and pay for their own food – as will all children’s parties in all venues.  It was busy as it was the weekend so if you want to eat at the same time as your children I would suggest pre-ordering and asking for your food to arrive at the same time as the children’s.  There is a wide range of food available for us adults from salads, mac & cheese with pulled pork, to burgers, pizza and hotdogs.  I ordered for Paul and I choosing an avocado and chicken salad for me and a cheese burger and fries for him, I also ordered a side order of garlic dough balls incase Emmy or Harry were still hungry – this came to just over £15 which is great value as the portions were large and the food tasty.
Party food, Hollywood bowl, party area, Basildon
The children’s meals were served in the party area which was decorated with balloons for each child at the table and colouring sheets too.  Very hungry they were certainly ready for their meals which were served very promptly once we all sat down.  All children’s meals are served in little food boxes which the kids loved.  The portion sizes are idea for children under 10, just enough for small tummies.  There is either 4 nuggets, a hotdog, a small round pizza cut in half or a small child’s sized burger – all are served with fries and sauce if you want it.  The teenagers moaned they were still hungry and there wasn’t enough food but they were quickly reminded that this was a kids party and therefore the meals are geared towards younger ages than themselves – of course teenagers want more to eat which is why Hollywood bowl have teens parties available where the meal is an adults meal option.
After they had all finished eating our party host took their group picture, you get one of these for the birthday child to take home.  The children and the adults had a wonderful time and the 2 hours flew by.
Team photo, Hollywood Bowl
Everyone laughed, danced and giggled their way through the day.  Emmy couldn’t stop saying “Thank you for bringing us all her Mummy, it’s the best day ever” – which of course is a winner in any parents eyes.
The cost of this party surprised me as I had always thought bowling to be on the expensive side, it always has been when we’ve gone before – albeit it a few years ago and I couldn’t imagine the price had dropped at all.  For a party of this size – 11 children for an ultimate party and food package the total cost was £148.39 (£11 of that was the lane upgrade to VIP) which I think is very reasonable and is now something I would consider doing not only for a children’s party but for a get together with the kids school friends in the summer holidays – splitting the cost between the families would make this a fun and affordable day out, and of course if it’s not a party per say the kids would be more than happy with the cheaper party package where the food is served at the lanes – infact they would probably prefer this as they wouldn’t be told by us adults they couldn’t leave the table until they had finished as they would still be bowling.

For further information on the kids party packages available or for details of prices/centre near you please visit the website:

Disclaimer:  We received this children’s party FOC in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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13 thoughts on “Review: Kids bowling party at Hollywood Bowl

  1. My girls love bowling! You are lucky to be able to go to such a nice place though. the one place we have bowling close to home is not by far as nice as that!

  2. We took the kids bowling for the first time at centre parks a few years ago, the loved it and I was surprised at how much I did with such young children. It's a great way for them to blow off steam and it is fun too. Might keep that in mind for a get together in the holidays 🙂

  3. Looks like the perfect place for a birthday party! I love parties like this that are a bit different…would be good to see some more veggie choices on the menu though. Looks like they all had a lovely time.

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