It’s hard to decide if this place is retro cool like Danger Mouse, or reliable children’s entertainment like Blue Peter. I think because it lacks tedious health and safety (always felt Blue Peter would be a rule follower), and has a bit more of a slap dash approach, it’s probably more the former. This is a good thing.
I first went to the Oasis in Swindon in the late 80s, and thought it pretty much the coolest place ever. It wasn’t just the wave machine and huge leisure pool, it was being allowed on scary slides that gave you a wedgie and got water up your nose. Frankly, a slide’s not worth its salt if it doesn’t cause a bit of pain.
The main area of pleasure-pain is the Domebuster, which has three slides: the Great White, Sidewinder and Storm. In the main pool, there are three hydro-slides and an open flume. There’s also a little pool with a pirate ship complete with squirters, sprays and small slides.
This is where I start to rant. So many water parks and leisure pools have stringent height/age restrictions for their water slides. Blue Lagoon, part of the Bluewater holiday village in south west Wales, for example, has a lifeguard with a measuring stick and the deduction skills of Columbo at the top of each slide barring the vertically challenged and under-eights.
But since when was age and height an indication of swimming ability or awareness of danger? The Oasis is much more sensible. You can take a small child down the Great White on your lap, which gives the more daring little ones a chance to go on a big slide.
Our three-year-old loved it, and after a few goes wanted to upgrade. Could he? “One of you go down first and catch him at the bottom,” said the lifeguard. So we took on the Sidewinder. You have to go down head-first and one at a time, and there’s one bit where your whole body is airborne. No wedgie, but a satisfying bumping of the iliac crest, which leaves a bruise-of-honour.
I was quite anxious to catch the expression on my three-year-old’s face as he shot out the end of the slide after me. Rapture was not what I expected. But he loved it so much I had to endure at least seven more bruises before we called it a day. I have to admit loving standing in the queue with my audacious preschooler, while children twice his age in arm-bands snivelled at the idea of going on the Great White.
We were there for a good two hours, all three children adoring it much as I had in the 80s. It’s not the most sparkly, new, flash water-park, but it’s fun. And health and safety quips aside, the lifeguards are friendly and seem to use judgement and experience rather than blindly follow rules.
Besides, its 90s indie band namesake took its name from the Oasis after seeing it on a poster for a gig by Inspiral Carpets (in the adjoining live music venue, not the Domebuster). I think that backs up the retro-cool argument rather than the tired, in need of a refurb comments made by Trip Advisor reviewers. Sure, it probably hasn’t been updated much in the last 30 years, but then nor have DipDabs, so that’s not always a bad thing.
*promise I’ll review some proper open water swimming places soon!