Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Play Arena, Sheffield - Review

Over the summer holidays we went up to Sheffield to visit family, and during one particularly wet day we decided to get online and try and find somewhere nearby to take the kids.  I came across The Play Arena on Day Out With The Kids and was impressed enough by the website to give it a shot. 

Set in a large industrial unit not far from Sheffield City Centre The Play Arena is unlike anything I've seen before, and over the past 9 years I've seen ALOT of indoor playcentres.  It is very new, only opening at the beginning of August, and as a result was not as busy as I expected it to be on a rainy afternoon. 

The arena is set into several sections surrounding a main seating area, cafe and toilet block.  The first thing you see beyond the desk when you come in is the giant rotating Octopus in the toddler area, so this was naturally our first stop.  Grace and Alfie were mesmerised by it (and to be fair, so was I!).  There were lots of other really cool things in this part too, the rocking pirate ship was also a big hit.

Charlie and Chloe bolted straight for the main playframe, which is HUGE and houses a 4 lane ASTRA slide, crawl tubes, spiral slides and spider climb.  There is also a toddler section to the main playframe so smaller ones can feel grown-up, my younger two loved the double yellow slide. 

My boys favourite part of the place was definitely the kart track, coin operated Go-Karts are fabulous for little drivers and were manned at all times by a member of staff to help out with any misjudgements in steering.

Another big hit for the kids was the air canon shooting range, which is housed over the sports area.  The air canons shoot small foam balls into a netting canopy whilst the children on the other side are shielded by a PVC barrier.  It really was fantastic fun and the children thought it was hilarious!

There was also the Comfyland Experience, which I thought was brilliant.  It is an educational area for children for between 1-6 years and is set into 3 zones; Cognitive Corner, Senses Corner and Music Corner.

There are loads of interactive educational toys and the babies especially liked the sit on computers. There was so much for them to do in here and you really felt as though they were doing some constructive rather than just tearing around (which of course has its place too!)

We didn't eat at the venue as we'd eaten beforehand, but the menu wasn't your average "Nuggets and Chips" affair you'd usually expect.....good, nutritious food at a reasonable price, that's what we like!  They sell a massive selection of drinks and cakes - I had a particularly delighful piece of chocolate cake.  All food is made fresh daily on the premises, with locally sourced ingredients, and even the pizzas are made in a real pizza oven. 

The cafe area is also covered by a CCTV systems so you can keep an eye on your little terrors at all times.  The staff we encountered were courtes and helpful, however it was obviously all hands on deck and they could probably do with recruiting in due course as I can see things getting really busy there before too long once the word really spreads. 

There's plenty more there to keep them amused than what i've mentioned here and if you're looking for something to do with the kids in the area you'd be hard pushed to find something they'd enjoy more because it was fantastic.  My only hope for The Play Arena is that everything there remains as it is now, because so much makes noise, rotates, moves or shoots I hope time and wear doesn't take its toll too much.  Only time will tell I guess. 

Prices vary and can be found on the website, however I found them in line with any other playcentre i've been to with the added bonus of this place being far superior to any of them.

Well done The Play Arena - 10 out of 10 from us!


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