Most kids seem to love soft play centres, and mine are no exception. I’d seen that a new one had opened locally – Owls Play Centre, at Fairlop Waters – and so, with a free Sunday afternoon and two energetic little ones I asked if they’d like to go and give it a try.
They were very enthusiastic about that idea!
So off we went.
It was quite easy to find, following the directions on the website, and the car park although quite busy still had places left to stick the car. It does cost £1.20 to park for two hours or £3 for the day – but it’s also possible to walk there from Fairlop tube station if you don’t fancy shelling out for pay and display.
Being a weekend the centre was pretty busy, and operating a two hour session policy. Sessions start every half hour and we were lucky enough to get there just in time to get the last places on the session that was starting ten minutes later (and it wasn’t too expensive either – £6 for over 3′s, £4 for under threes, and £1 per adult). Which is lucky, because the kids were very keen to get inside and start playing when the saw the equipment on offer!
There is a main playframe which is three storeys high and has a suggested age range of 5-12 years, as well as a smaller toddler area (age 2-5) and a babies area (0-2). As you would expect with a new centre, all the equipment was in lovely clean condition and has obviously been well looked after so far too – there were staff milling around keeping on top of cleaning and tidying the whole time we were there.
Plenty of tables and chairs surround the play areas, and we were able to sit down and let the kids run off and enjoy themselves without worrying they might escape or get lost – the playframe is big but not TOO big. Even better, it’s fairly accessible for adults too with nice high netted ceilings. Good news for the Other Half as Bubby D wanted him to accompany her for the first couple of times she went exploring – although luckily even though she is only two there were no high steps or ladders that she couldn’t get up without help meaning once she felt comfortable she could follow the Wee Man around on her own without needing an adult there for reassurance.
The equipment is very varied, with soft play mushrooms, ladders, climbing walls, rope bridges, tunnels, zip wires and spinning platforms all weaving around the centrepiece of a four lane bumpy slide which extends from the third level down to the ground.
The centre has a cafe, which serves a variety of food including the usual chips and nuggets type fare, as well as some healthier options such as baguettes, toasters and jacket potatoes – kids meals are about £3.50 and adults can pay anything between £2.50 and £5 for something to eat. Plus there is coffee and cake available too!
And of course, there are toilets – with a small one for the kids, a baby change unit and also a very friendly hand dryer, much to the delight of the Wee Man.
All in all, the kids had a really great afternoon, and it wasn’t too bad for the adults either (the cacophony of noise is something to be suffered at every soft play, but at least you could sit comfortably while your ears were assaulted!). The service was quite slow, but given that the centre is new to the staff as well as the people visiting I think that’s something that will probably improve in time.
Wee Man is already asking when we can go back again – so I’ve a feeling that we’ll be heading off to Owls again very soon.