Review: Bouncing Underground in Bounce Below, Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, UK
By: Amy Obrien
Children: Miles (6) and Ella (10)
What do you do with a decommissioned Welsh slate mine? Why you transform it into one of the most unique adventure attractions since bunging jumping was invented of course!
Opened in 2014, Bounce Below is the world’s first subterranean playground of its kind. Hidden underground in a 176-year old disused cavern you’ll find a creative playground with giant trampolines, walkways, 60ft-slides (made out of netting) and tunnels suspended underground, illuminated by bright, neon lights.
Miles and Ella had been waiting excitedly for months to check out this underground world. We have similar places in the U.S. but nothing quite like this, certainly nothing in cave!
As we pulled into the parking lot you we wondered if we were actually in the right place. There were no signs announcing that this was the home of Bounce Below, just a sign advertising Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Once inside, however, the host at the front desk put my kids’ fears to rest and more more dancing, giggling and all around excitement ensued from the kids.
Before entering the jump zones, we were given a safety demonstration and provided with helmets and optional jumpsuits (these are recommended, especially if you are not wearing long sleeves as the rope trampoline platforms can be slightly abrasive on bare skin). Access to the fun-for-all-the-family playground is by train. Ours wound its way slowly down into the cavern leaving the sunshine behind and heading deep into the darkness – Bounce Below is not for claustrophobics!
Once we were fully inside, we were given one final safety briefing and then we were off. Ella scurried all the way to the third level as fast as she could as Miles and I hung back and took our time checking out the lower levels and getting acclimated. It didn’t take long, though, for Miles to get the courage to follow his big sister and finally lead the way through all three levels and multiple slides including the brand new second room. The kids excitement definitely carried over to Sean and I and we quickly joined the kids as they showed us how to slide down the netting chutes.
There are three levels of woven rope style platforms that each act as individual trampolines with multiple sections on each level. Each level is connected by various slides ranging from 15 to 60 feet long and various ladder-like structures, all made from the same grid like woven ropes. A rainbow of lights illuminates the room giving jumpers quick glimpses of the surrounding mine walls and floors.
For the real adrenaline junkies there is also a brand new room with one large platform that is completely lit from the bottom giving each jumper an unobstructed view of the jagged remains of the slate mine floor. Bounce Below was originally just for kids but they found that the adults were having just as much fun so they created two areas.
Jumping on the woven rope platforms is not as simple as a trampoline and takes a little time to get used to. The slides are a little tight and Sean actually got stuck in one of the shorter ones but was able to push his way through easily. The kids had no issue jumping or riding the slides though and they could’ve spent the entire day riding them through all three levels. An hour went felt like five minutes and although exhausted, we could’ve definitely jumped for longer.
Although I felt like I was able to experience everything Bounce Below had to offer I was hesitant to try all the attractions due to a fear of heights. After getting all hot and sweaty bouncing for an hour nothing hit the spot like the ice cream and sodas that we all had from the snack bar at the front entrance. We finally cooled down with our snacks as we wandered around the rest of the grounds checking out all the other attractions that the park has to offer.
Take a video tour of Bounce Below:
What you need to know
- All levels are completely enclosed and strict supervision and adherence to safety is enforced.
- Tickets allow attendees one hour of jump time, which even a trained marathoner would find a substantial workout.
- The main jump zones are open to attendees ages 7 and up. Approximately 35 people are allowed in each time slot so the area isn’t too crowded. We easily found a quiet spot for just your group.
- Bounce Below Junior offers a separate junior jump room with two jump levels at a much smaller scale for ages 3-6 years. This is located just one cave away from the main room with easy access to both rooms. Only 6 kids are allowed at one time.
- Refreshments are available from vending machines for a fee inside the jump zone but outside food and drink is not allowed. There is also a slightly larger snack stand outside the jump zone on your way out that offers fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, snacks and ice cream, which hit the spot after an hour of intense jumping. A full scale restaurant and pub are also located on the grounds.
- You can make and entire day of your adventure at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns if you wish. In addition to the deep mine tour and Bounce Below, the mines also offers slate classes and Zip World an attraction so extreme that the reference of “zip lining” hardly does it justice.
- There are no bathrooms in the cave, you have to go back up to the ground level.
For more information on this experience please visit the Bounce Below website.
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About the Author:
Every since her first road trip to California at the age of 18, Amy Obrien has loved hopping in a car, a plane or bus to check out something new. She has passed on her wanderlust gene to her two kids. Amy is currently on an 8-month hiatus from her photography job to tour the world with her family.
Disclosure: Amy Obrien and her family were offered complimentary tickets to Bounce Below. All opinions are independent and entirely her own and she would happily pay to bounce again.
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