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Things to do with the Kids – Ball Pits!

January 27th, 2010 · 3 Comments · things to do with the kids

During the rather wet, cold dark days of winter there is one place that is a must, at least once in a while, for kids to let off steam and go wild: an indoor playground. Or as we fondly refer to them “ball pits”, as most of them have one.

There are plenty of pubs that have them these days and even one of our local McDonalds has one, but I have focussed on the purely unlicensed premises which have the children’s play and entertainment as their main focus as I bring you my personal top 5 of our local centres!

(Please start singing the “pick of the pops” theme and doing your best Alan Freeman voiceover here…)

At number 5…

Heroes Soft Play Area at Cheadle Swimming Pool. A surprise entry this one. OK, it only has a tiny play area (and in fact – shock, horror – I don’t think it even has a ball pit!) – but it is worth a mention as it potentially gives a sibling something to do while their brother or sister is swimming. And there is a little coffee area right next to it. There is also a tiny play area for babies/toddlers but to be honest there is next to nothing in it to play with. Hmmmm… moving on…

At number 4…

Rumble in the Jungle – A bit of a hidden gem, but not really big enough for over the age of 3-4 tops. Its modest size means the kids are never far away. And the food is good. The kids have always enjoyed Rumble in the Jungle more than I expect given its size. As well as the main play area it also has a Car Zone with pushalongs and cars (obviously). Also a Baby Zone.

At number 3…

Funizuz – With two big rooms there is plenty of space and variety for kids to run wild. There is a very big main area and a good smaller area for under 4s. Not only that but also areas for toddlers and babies. The cafe is bright and airy and a couple of sectioned off areas are used for parties. But the big draw at Funizuz has to be the big slide. I defy you not to have a go on it… several times!

At number 2…

Run of the Mill – I think Run of the Mill has the largest continuous run of connected soft play equipment of all the local centres. There’s no doubt the kids love it. It does good parties: Oliver had his 3rd birthday there and Lucy her 2nd. But it does have one big draw back for me: the seating is such that it is very easy to lose track of your child in the play area. Much of the time they are out of sight and when it is busy it is bedlam. (Of course there’s nothing to stop you getting in there with them.)

And at number 1…

Anchors Away – This is pretty much unchanged in its layout from when it was “Whalearound”. And that’s a very good thing, because the kids are pretty much always visible in all the play areas wherever you are sitting. The food is good with some fruit always available and they do good parties. Oliver had his 4th birthday party there. It’s definitely our most visited play-centre, mostly because of the layout and equipment (though it also helps that childminders get a slight discount during the week.) And the new owners have also given it a new injection of life.

So there’s my top 5. Maybe I’ll do something similar for the local parks when some summer sunshine finally arrives… I hope!


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