I first heard about the Children’s Play Village when it was still under development and it certainly seemed like it was a project of passion from the owners who overcame several set backs to still open their vision.
Therefore I had high expectations when I visited with my four year old this week. We had booked in advance via the online booking system. I did have a couple of problems with the booking confirmation not coming up and it taking several hours for the confirmation email to come through. However due to how busy this place gets it is probably worth booking more than a day in advance in any case.
There are three 2.5 hour booking slots per day to choose from and we went for the earliest at 9:30am. As advised we arrived for opening and was directed to the comfy café area to remove our shoes and wait for everyone to come in. We were then invited to the Village Green to be greeted by one of the playmakers who explained the theme for the session and what you could do before we were let loose.
Initially I thought the play area seemed quite small but once you got into the different areas there was no sense of it being too cramped or busy (although I am not sure what the maximum number permitted during peak times would be).
There are 12 role play areas from a builder’s site, a school and shop. My little lady made a bee line for the beauty salon first and was fascinated by the lifelike salon where you could “wash” each other’s hair and do your nails. The café was a favourite of mine, it is so lifelike with all the accessories you could think of including a fridge, oven, display unit with cakes (yum!). We also spent a long time in the vets with lots of animals you could examine, bath and make cosy in their homes. For the those who love Fire Engines, the fire station even features a Fire Engine you can sit in and “drive”. For younger children there is a section in the village square with baby toys, although most of them seemed to be enjoying the role play as much as the bigger kids.
My little girl made a friend whilst she was there and together they got themselves ready in the beauty salon before dressing up ready for their performance in the theatre as Anna and Elsa.
One difference with this role play centre is the part the staff play. They get involved from the start and there is a running theme throughout the session. We had to find Mr Rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” which he had lost. With songs and role play throughout the playmakers led the children on an adventure around the centre. If anyone has attended Pyjama Drama, the themes were designed by them and run in a similar way to the class. Near the end, the playmakers ran games with the parachute. Although my little lady was more interested in continuing her performance on stage than to join in.
At the end the playmakers encouraged the children to tidy up with a tidy up song before we all gathered on the village green to say goodbye.
There is a café on site serving hot and cold drinks and food. We did not eat but the prices seemed fairly on par with similar type of centres. I was really impressed to see that the squash was only 50p and served in reusable glass bottles. There was also drinking water freely available at all times. The café does close for orders 30 minutes before the session ends and you are not permitted to stay to eat after your session has finished which is worth bearing in mind with how long it can take for some children to eat (we popped into nearby Warwick afterwards to grab a bite to eat).
At £8.95 a child, I initially thought this was a pricy treat for a 2.5 hour session but you can see what you are paying for (especially if you think about a structured class normally being around £5-6 for a 45 minute session). I am planning to return to take my youngest child but again due to the cost I will probably leave this for a special occasion as there are no discounts for siblings.
That said, I would recommend this place as it is quite special and the amount of visitors reflect this. I just hope that they can maintain the footfall long term as I do not think it is a place I personally could afford to make too many repeated visits.
Open 7 days a week
Session One: 09:30-12:00
Session Two: 12:30-15:00
Session Three: 15:30-18:00
£8:95: confident walkers and older
£4: non walkers
Free: adults and babies under 6 months
For more see their website
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