Before bowling (and the rest of society) went all hipster, Hollywood Bowl was the place to be. Hanging at the local bowling place was a super cool thing to do, especially in the 90’s. Bowling, amusements, drinks and meals in a basket, they were all to be expected and it was fun! Fast forward to the noughties. Going bowling suddenly became a little, drab? It seemed that the clientele you would see visiting were ‘pros’ or perhaps young kids for a Birthday party of one of their classmates.
With the recent revamp of Hollywood Bowl Leeds we were invited to visit and test the facilities out. A new menu that welcomed being a vegetarian and had no sign of chicken in a basket seemed tempting, as well as having something fun to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon. We’ve recently been and reviewed some of the hip bowling establishments locally so I was also keen to figure out the difference of the experiences, both in price and quality.
Stepping into the Cardigan Fields branch in Leeds felt a little retro to me. Having lived close by and holding many memories from the leisure park left me feeling nostalgic before I had even swapped my Converse for some Union Jack bowling shoes. We were shown to our lane, as we headed towards the seating areas, the kids danced around the carpet stars on the floor. They seemed to like the somewhat glitzy look to the place; dimmed lights, cool music and purple neon signs all felt a good ambience. Sure there was still the familiar sound of the ten-pins being struck and the clunking of the machines but overall, for me the place seemed, pretty chilled.
I set about filling our details into the machine. Again, just like the decor, the technology has moved on too. Touch screens, easy to use and simple to amend, I was impressed. The facility of being able to personalise the ability setting for each player was pretty good too, adding and removing bumpers yourself is clearly a thing of the past. You can also order drinks, call staff, see your remaining allocated minutes and view your booking at the touch of a button too, which is useful.
I won’t bore you with the details of the game. It’s ten pin bowling. Essentially we spent the next hour or so (Myself and two toddlers) throwing bowls of differing weights at a set of ten pins attempting to knock down as many as possible to achieve a decent score. The kids loved it, both of them seemed keen to learn and better their previous turn. I explained about aiming along the little arrows on the lane (not that it ever does me much good..) and being careful of the foul line. (Cue, fouls most goes!)
During the game when any of use managed a strike or a half strike (me..) there were lots of celebrations on the screens as well as on the lane, which was fun. A little more high tech than I recall.. the kids loved it!
Points of note for families heading to Hollywood Bowl…
- At Hollywood Bowl, the smallest shoes are a toddler size 5/6 (22), however since December 2014, children are allowed to wear their own outdoor shoes. Adults, also, can wear their own shoes as long as they are low-heeled, enclosed and non-slip.
- Two facilities that add to the enjoyment for children are ramps and bumpers. The ramp can be used by children if they can’t throw the ball themselves. You just place the ball at the top of the ramp and your child can push it down themselves. The ramp is easy to move out of the way when it’s not needed, which leaves room for you and your strikes..
- Both Gabriel and Willow were excited about taking their turn and counting how many pins they had knocked down. Their enthusiasm did wane after about eight frames however so for children under 6 years old, just book the one game!
- There are facilities for children, toddlers and babies. The new improved diner menus cater for children of all ages, most dietary requirements and eating abilities, which is refreshing.
So what’s the cost? Well Hollywood Bowl standard prices start at £4.99 for under 16s and £5.99 for adults and that is per game. Fairly reasonable, but of course perhaps not that affordable for a weekly visit. There is also a family package at £19.79 which is probably doing worthwhile if you have more than one child! You can also sign up to the Hollywood Bowl newsletter which is often filled with special offers and introductory deals for new bowlers, you can find out more here.
As part of our special visit, we headed to the diner for some food. We all ate halloumi burgers (the kids had slider type versions, along with crudities, dips and chips). My burger was nice albeit a little crazy on the toppings, roasted red peppers, caramelised onion chutney, mayonnaise, avocado and also salad. It was nice and fresh tasting and we didn’t have any complaints (In fact, it was in my opinion a lot better than the previous menus). The decor of the new diner area is actually fairly cool too. We sat and ate in a 1950’s Cadillac style table which the kids found most entertaining!
Overall we had a good few hours entertainment at Hollywood Bowl. The staff, food and service were great and I left feeling impressed. The theme of the place and general update has worked well, why not pay them a visit and see for yourself? We will definitely return soon!
*Disclosure: We were invited to Hollywood Bowl Leeds to review our experience, all words and opinions are my own. For further information please see my disclosure policy*