Industrial (estate) sized soft play is something I’ve been avoiding for months. I had visions of hundreds of children running amok, intense noise and dashing about trying to keep track of Tilly and avoid her being knocked over by bigger children. Having won a ticket to Playtrain in High Wycombe it was finally time to see whether my fears were founded. I found I was pleasantly surprised.
We’ve been to a few smaller soft play venues now, typically play cafes with a modest climbing frame built in. This makes it relatively straight forward to keep track of an active and tiny tot. I was keen to see whether this would be much more difficult at a larger soft play venue.
It was bang on opening time on a Saturday so we had a quiet moment to peruse what Playtrain has to offer.Entrance is via a push button on the wall, designed to keep the little ones within the play area and keep parents minds at rest. There’s a number of different play areas with the main climbing frame in the centre, play shops and a castle to the right, an under 3s area to the rear and a ride on car track tucked around the side. To the left there’s the cafe with seating and a couple of rides, although these cost extra.
The main frame is the centre piece of Playtrain. It’s a really good size and features several areas connected by walkways with various play spaces on the ground level. I was probably more nervous than Tilly at her tackling this but she was soon up there and finding her way around. Losing sight of her was rather daunting but I gradually realised that there are no perilous drops as you often get at larger playground climbing frames; it’s steps or slides to get back down.
Tilly did try out the under 3s section, which has a surrounding wall and a seating area for parents – ideal for easily keeping an eye on littler ones. However this area mainly consists of a ball pit and some soft play shapes and although not the most boisterous 2-year-old, this is fairly tame fare for Tilly these days.
Despite being a Saturday it was pleasantly uncrowded as the morning progressed. Tilly did make some friends with an older brother pulling a train along with his 2-year old sister and Tilly riding in the cars, shrieking with laughter as they zipped around the place.
Other favourites included a car on the track and the giant Lego blocks. Although Tilly explored the main climbing frame, she actually spent most of her time at ground level going from one area to the next and exploring the various areas, reflecting the good range of activities available. If there was one disappointment it was that the play shops contained a bit of a mess of items and didn’t lend themselves to playing shops as I think Tilly had hoped to do.
By the time we came to leave it was nearly lunchtime but it still didn’t feel crowded. Tilly was worn out and had had a really fun morning. Playtrain is a light, airy space for play and there’s a good variety of play options on offer. We’ll certainly be back, especially when indoor play is needed.