Remember dial-up internet, slap bracelets, and the thrill of a Saturday morning cartoon marathon? If you grew up in Southampton during the 1990s, then these memories likely spark a wave of nostalgia.

This era was a vibrant time for kids in the city, filled with unique experiences and adventures that defined a generation.

This first article in a new series dives into the world of Southampton youngsters in the 90s.

We'll explore the places they hung out, the trends they embraced, and the entertainment that fueled their imaginations.

Get ready to revisit a time of arcades buzzing with excitement, afternoons spent conquering the local parks, and the thrill of the latest blockbuster at the cinema.


Sega Park Southampton was a cherished arcade venue for many, though not quite reaching the scale of its London counterpart, SegaWorld. Here's a glimpse into its history: It was a fixture in Southampton for a respectable amount of time, entertaining youngsters who'd eagerly spend their pocket money on the exciting games.

The arcade boasted diverse games, including classic racing games like the ever-popular Daytona USA and the wacky, fast-paced Crazy Taxi.

Staff outside SEGA Park, Bargate Shopping Centre.Staff outside SEGA Park, Bargate Shopping Centre. (Image: Echo)

Fighting games such as Virtual Fighter were popular, perfect for those wanting to test their reflexes.

Other types of arcades that were favourites among fans were light gun shooters like Time Crisis and Jurassic Park or dancing units such as Dance Dance Revolution.

There was also a section for adults with fruit machines.

Enjoying the arcade machines at Sega Park.Enjoying the arcade machines at SEGA Park. (Image: Echo)

Unfortunately, Sega Park wasn't immune to the changing times. In late 2011, the owners of the mall where it resided went bankrupt, leading to its closure.

This also marked the end of the "Sega Park" brand in the UK, as Sega itself had divested from operating arcades in the nation in 2000.

Slap Bracelets

No child of the 1990s will not have memories of slap bracelets - they were everywhere!

Slap bracelets – also called snap bracelets - were a simple yet captivating concept, allowing a colourful band to be slapped on the wrist with a small amount of force. The metal band would then snap around the wrist, conforming to its shape and creating a cool, colourful accessory.

Although originally invented in 1983 and first popular in the late 1980s, they gained popularity among children who could not get enough of them in the early part of the 1990s.

With a wide variety of colours and designs, slap bracelets allowed kids to express their individuality and match their favourite outfits.

A plain slap bracelet - stark contrast to the usual colourful type.A plain slap bracelet - a stark contrast to the usual colourful type.

The satisfying "snap" sound and the way the bracelet transformed from flat to wrapped around the wrist provided a unique sensory experience.

Kids loved collecting and trading slap bracelets with their friends, showing off their coolest finds.

However, slap bracelets weren't without their drawbacks.

Concerns were raised about potential injuries from the metal band snapping too forcefully on someone's wrist. Additionally, their popularity waned as quickly as it rose, becoming somewhat of a passing fad.

Despite their short-lived reign, slap bracelets remain a nostalgic symbol of the 1990s. For many who grew up in Southampton during that era, the sight of a slap bracelet can instantly transport them back to a time of carefree fun and the thrill of a new and exciting accessory.

Way Out West

Way Out West in Southampton was another fun spot from the past, frequented by families with young children during the day and old revellers in the evening.

Way Out West wasn't a standalone venue, but rather an entertainment complex within the larger Ocean Village development of Canute’s Pavilion.

The rodeo machine at Way Out West in Ocean Village (Image: Echo)

It opened its doors in July 1996, coinciding with a period of growth for Ocean Village.

Way Out West provided a wealth of entertainment options including mini bowling lanes, a children's play area, numerous arcade machines and a rodeo machine.

A family enjoying the arcade machine at Way Out West, Ocean Village.A family enjoying the arcade machines at Way Out West, Ocean Village. (Image: Echo)

Way Out West closed its doors sometime in the later years of Canute’s Pavillion which was demolished in 2008.

Despite the lack of a precise closing date, Way Out West undoubtedly holds a special place in the memories of Southampton youngsters who enjoyed its fun-filled atmosphere.

My Little Pony

My Little Pony was originally released in the 1980s, but it absolutely boomed in the 1990s!

The 1990s saw the rise of My Little Pony's second generation, often referred to as "G2." These ponies had a softer, more pastel aesthetic compared to their brightly coloured G1 counterparts. Their glittery bodies and flowing manes captured the hearts of a new generation of young collectors.

The world of My Little Pony G2 expanded beyond just the ponies themselves. Playsets featuring colourful houses, castles, and even vehicles allowed kids in Southampton to create elaborate adventures for their ponies. There were also accessories like hair clips, clothing sets, and even tiny carriages, all designed to fuel imaginative play.

A My Little Pony, G2.A My Little Pony, G2.

G2 introduced a new cast of ponies with unique personalities and appearances. Popular characters like Sweetheart Spree, Sweetie Drops, and Sunny Flare became firm favourites among Southampton youngsters.

The My Little Pony franchise wasn't just about the toys. The 1990s saw the premiere of "My Little Pony Tales," an animated series featuring the G2 ponies, transporting viewers to the magical world of Ponyville.

For many kids, My Little Pony wasn't just a toy line; it was a portal to a world of imagination. It undoubtedly had a significant impact on Southampton youngsters in the 1990s.


Southampton in the 1990s offered a vibrant cinema scene with several options for moviegoers old and young, Cannon Cinema being the largest.

It was the first cinema to grace Ocean Village, opening its doors in July 1989. It boasted multiple screens and offered a modern movie-watching experience for the newly developed area.

The Cannon Cinema chain itself underwent much change, with the Southampton location being acquired by different cinema groups over the years, including MGM, Virgin, UGC, and finally Cineworld.

Cannon Cinema when it was Virgin Cinemas.Cannon Cinema when it was Virgin Cinemas. (Image: Echo)

Construction began on a second cinema in Ocean Village in 1994 and had a distinct focus. Funded by the city council, the British Film Institute, and Southern Arts, this cinema aimed to showcase a different kind of movie experience.

February 1995 marked the grand opening of the Harbour Lights Picturehouse. It championed independent, foreign, and classic films, providing a counterpoint to the mainstream blockbusters offered by Cannon Cinema nearby.

It’s the only Southampton picture house from the 1990s still open today.

Harbour Lights cinema in Ocean Village.Harbour Lights cinema in Ocean Village. (Image: Echo)

A familiar name across the UK, the Odeon on Above Bar Street was a popular choice for Southampton residents in the 1990s.

The building had entertained the masses with moving pictures for more than a century when it shut its doors for the last time in 1993.

It was the last cinema of many to vanish from Above Bar, but the Odeon returned to the city when it opened in Leisure World in 1998.

Odeon Cinema in Above Bar.Odeon Cinema in Above Bar. (Image: Echo)

Another national chain with a presence in Above Bar was the ABC, offering a more traditional cinema experience. This cinema was known for its comfortable seating and focus on mainstream releases.

The building had been used as a picture house since 1935 before closing in 1991 to become the Square Baloon nightclub. It is now Switch Southampton nightclub These cinemas provided Southampton youngsters with a diverse range of options to enjoy the latest blockbusters, independent gems, and cinematic classics throughout the 1990s.

ABC Cinema in Above Bar.ABC Cinema in Above Bar. (Image: Echo)

Were you a child in Southampton in the 1990s? If so, what are your memories of the time? Let us know in the comments below.