*Please note, this is a paid collaboration with Hollywood Bowl. Finding fun things to do that will engage the whole family can be really tough, especially when a member of the family is on the autism spectrum. We were recently invited to try Hollywood Bowl with their new VIP lane experience, in order to celebrate the end of Biggest’s first year of school.
Whenever we try new things we are always cautious and tentative. We prepare Biggest in advance and give him lots of warning. Sometimes it works out – and sometimes it doesn’t. Often, that can really depend on the way staff and members of the public react when the inevitable unexpected things happen and Biggest has a bit of a wobble.
I am glad to say that our trip to Hollywood Bowl could not have gone more smoothly. The VIP lanes were brilliant for Biggest. They gave him a bit of a barrier so he felt less overwhelmed by the busier areas. The staff were so attentive and understanding and he loved the sensory experience of bowling, the food, and the games – as did the whole family.
Biggest even got a strike! He was so, so proud of himself.
Hollywood Bowl VIP Experience
With the all new VIP lanes you’ll feel like a Hollywood star. The VIP lanes are slightly apart from the main bowling area, and we got to enter through a giant star-shaped ‘VIP’ door, which Littlest was thrilled by. Being slightly apart from the other bowlers was perfect for Biggest. Autism, and sensory processing issues, mean that he often gets very quickly overwhelmed in busy and noisy places. The VIP lanes meant we were able to finish our game and keep Biggest happy. There were also lovely little touches like pool style bowling balls and funky coloured pins.
The VIP experience also meant we had someone dedicated to looking after us while we played. If we wanted drinks or nibbles – or needed help with anything – Amie was there to help us. I have to take a moment to sing Amie’s praises. You may think that, as we were at Hollywood Bowl as guests, that it would go without mentioning that we would receive good service. I have to say, that is not always the case. We have been to many places, even as guests, where they were reluctant to help us out when Biggest struggled with some things.
Not only was Amie polite, attentive and quick, she also helped us with the few wobbles that Biggest had without hesitating or questioning at all. For example, when Biggest’s food arrived with herbs in that he was not expecting, and he began to get very distressed, Amie made sure it was replaced almost instantly. She really was an absolute star.
This meant a few potential meltdowns were averted very quickly, and Biggest had an absolutely wonderful time. Seeing his face lit up with joy really was priceless for us, and we had the most wonderful family day out.
The bowling itself was great fun. The lanes were really atmospheric. There were lots of little touches that made us feel like we were getting star treatment. The barriers on the lanes automatically came up for the children and went back down when Matt and I played. Also, when the children got strikes or spares, Amie appeared with stickers to help them celebrate. The fact that there were the usual frames for children meant that Biggest could take part in a physical game with the rest of us, and he had a whale of a time. Both children also received certificates with their scores at the end. They both beat my score!
Hollywood Bowl Dining
As you might expect, the food at Hollywood Bowl is inspired by the USA. There are diner-style booths in which to enjoy your meal and the menu has hotdogs and burgers and sharing platters, as well as general meals like pasta. I was really impressed with my meal at Hollywood Bowl. The food was fresh and delicious and high quality. In fact, it was better than most chain-style American Diners that we have tried.
The children’s menu had lots of options to choose from and both kids ate well and loved every minute of their meal. Littlest finished off a huge bowl of pasta! There were crayons and colouring-in sheets to entertain them and delicious milkshakes to finish off our meal.
There is much more to Hollywood Bowl than just great bowling and great food. There was also a huge range of games and amusements too. This was something that both children were delighted by – Biggest loves computer games anyway and Littlest loved joining in with her brother. She wants to play with him all the time but this can cause quite a bit of conflict, as Biggest does not always want to. However, while playing on the amusements together they were working as a team and loving each other’s company – and it was lovely to see.
Win a Hollywood Bowl Package
You could win an incredible package entitling your family to a bowling pass for up to four people, a round of drinks, and a main meal per person in the diner for one month. Simply share your very own celebratory moment at your nearest Hollywood Bowl centre. To be in with a chance of winning, you need to follow the @HollywoodBowlUK Instagram page and use the hashtag #CelebratingLife. Make sure you tag Hollywood Bowl on social media when you do! (@HollywoodBowlUK on Instagram and Twitter)
Our Hollywood Bowl Experience
We had a wonderful time at Hollywood Bowl. It can be really tricky for us to motivate ourselves to try a new family day out. We never know how Biggest can react. It can often be very stressful and the bad outweighs the good. This was not the case at Hollywood Bowl. We felt like our enjoyment was their priority and we will definitely be returning for some more family fun soon.
Please note, this was a paid collaboration. However, all images and opinions are my own. We genuinely loved our time at Hollywood Bowl. For more information, see our Disclosure Policy.
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