An experience & a bit of a review.
We have visited the soft play area in the Time Capsule, Lanarkshire a few times now. We have gone back because the kids have enjoyed the experience and it’s quite well contained for J. There aren’t many ways he can escape and it’s easy to keep an eye on him. The price recently increased to £2.60 per child for an hour’s play but I still thought this was fairly reasonable.
The play area is not too big, so it’s not overwhelming for J or for smaller children. There’s still plenty for them to do including several slides, a padded soft football area, ball pit for older kids, lots of things to climb on and a small baby area with a little ball pit, mirror, soft roller cylinders and a tiny soft slide (though not as much for babies as I’ve seen elsewhere). There is a cafe which sells tea/coffee, cakes, kids juice and crisps/chocolate etc. There are wooden chairs and tables around the edge of the play area where adults can sit while their children play.
Up until our recent visit, I’ve never looked at the changing facilities, as we’ve never needed to use them. In order to be able to let others know what’s available I had a look at the facilities on offer. I was able to find a baby changing room with a pull-down wall unit and a disabled changing room. I thought this was great, until I looked inside. It was a changing room to allow a disabled user to get ready to use the nearby gym, which is good but it’s not suitable for changing an older disabled child’s nappy or clothes. It did have a seat in the shower area and a seat to assist with changing. No bench or hoist, though I would say the room was probably big enough to accommodate one. Shame really as a facility like this right next to a soft play area would be really handy for older children with disabilities who require to be changed. According to the Disabled Go website there is a changing place in the Time Capsule (Changing Place) though from the description it appears to be in the water park area changing rooms, which is not conveniently accessible for soft play users.
The main car park has a good number of disabled parking spaces which allow fairly easy access to the building, though the soft play and gym are off through a side entrance which is a little further away from this car park. Not a major distance though.
I would say we’ve always had a good experience of going to this soft play with the boys. They enjoy it and we have the peace of mind that we can keep a close eye on them and keep them (especially J) safe.
A couple of months ago there was a Groupon voucher which included entry for two kids for an hour, as well as either a sandwich or hot dog and small soft drink. We bought two as it lasted for 90 days and thought it would be great to take the kids on a rainy day. W is too small to eat the food and you usually don’t pay, or pay a reduced rate, for babies in soft play centres, especially if they are there with other older children, as they can’t make full use of the facilities.
We booked to use our vouchers on Wednesday, as they were nearing expiry and the forecast was for rain. My mum came with us and brought my nephew, who is one and a half. I had expected to have to pay for him to come in, as he can toddle around and climb so is able to use some of the facilities, mainly the ones on the bottom level. I hadn’t however expected to have to pay full price for W. She’s just turned 11 months and unable to use most of the facilities on offer. There is a small baby section but it is just small. Other soft play centres we have visited have been either free or a reduced price for children under 1. As we had booked our voucher we had no choice but to pay for her to come in, or risk losing the voucher.
The boys set off to play, with my nephew in tow, and I attempted to take W into the baby section. It started off fine, though she was a little unsure of the slightly bigger girl who kept jumping into the ball pit next to her. Shortly afterwards some bigger kids came in and started throwing the balls and bigger soft play items around and jumping about. They were very noisy, screaming a lot and W was quite scared of them. I took her back to the table to wait for them to leave, their parents to tell them to come out of an area meant for children less than half their age, or a member of staff to move them on. None of this happened so she couldn’t go back in. We had effectively paid £2.60 for her to sit in a high chair for an hour. To say I was annoyed is putting it mildly.
Once the boys’ hour was up we headed for the cafe in another section of the centre to get the included food. The options were a hot dog or sandwich and it was served with a small soft drink (a Capri sun or small bottle of flavoured water.) There weren’t any seats available in the cafe area above the pool so we had to sit on a sofa in an open space above the ice skating. We had our jackets, which was lucky! Though the boys, being boys, didn’t want theirs on. I was cold just looking at them.
The boys probably didn’t notice anything amiss with our experience this time round. They had fun playing and enjoyed their food. They liked looking down at the ice skating too. The visit was spoiled for me for a few reasons
- The price for W to come in with us (plus the attitude of the girl behind the desk when I asked if babies definitely had to pay full price)
- The older kids playing in the baby area and members of staff not doing anything to stop this.
- The older kids ball pit being broken and sealed off (though this is probably being picky, as these things happen!)
- The lack of seating available at the cafe area where the meals were served, though the overall venue was busy.
To sum up, this is a good soft play area for children aged around 1.5-6 or 7. It’s quite well laid out and has plenty to keep them entertained. There aren’t lots of exits and it’s not too big, so it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids. There is a large car park nearby with good access to the venue.
The down sides would be the price for younger kids, the lack of supervision of the dedicated areas to ensure rules are followed and the wait in the queue to get in; even with only a small number of people in the queue.
We might visit again but it would mean needing someone to look after W, which isn’t great as it’s not always possible and it seems a little unfair to exclude her too.
Am I being a bit tight/unreasonable with the price thing? What’s everyone else’s experience of this?