“ Units 8-12 / Century Way (Off Charter Way)/ Braintree / Essex / CM7 8YH / Tel: 01376 347547 „
Crazy Kids is one of the largest indoor play areas for children in Essex. Located in a former warehouse, not far from Freeport shopping village, it can easily be reached with the free Freeport shuttle bus that connects Freeport with the centre of the town. From the bus stop it is only a short walk and you might like to combine a visit to the shops with some playtime for the children.
Crazy Kids offers ample parking facilities but still it can be hard to find a parking space if they are very busy. An alternative would be the overflow parking at the backside of Freeport.
The entrance fee for your child depends on the age. For under 2 year olds you'll pay £2.75, 2-4 year olds £3.95 and 5 - 12 year olds are £4.25. My girls are 5 and 7 , so we have to fork out £ 8.50 which is pretty average for this sort of play centre. You'll have to add some for drinks and snacks to this, they don't allow you to bring your own, so for us a visit usually adds up to around £15. Not cheap but average for an indoor play area. Usually they can play as long as they want, so theoretically you could come as soon as they open at 10am and stay the whole day, but during peak time, when they get really busy, the playtime might be restricted to 2 hours. In this case your child will receive a colourful wristband and when the playtime for your child's colour is over this will be announced over the speaker system. So far we have always been lucky and, although we did arrive during a time that was regarded as "peak" and got wristbands, the place emptied later on and we could stay longer than the two hours.
The play areas:
There are two main play areas: one for children of up to four years old and the one (which is one of the largest indoor play-towers in the county) for older children of up to 12 years old.
I have seen children playing here who were probably a bit older than 12 though but officially it is restricted to 12 years maximum. Of course it also happens that the age groups mix and smaller children want to explore the giant play-tower and older ones want to play in the smaller children's area, especially if they are accompanied by a sibling of the other age group. Here it is the parent's responsibility to make sure that no older child will get too wild in the small area (if necessary the staff will get involved and ask the child to return to the "big" area).
Of course vice versa you should make sure that your little one is able to cope with the "challenges" of the big tower. If needed, you'll have to go with them. Like it or not - we've all been there (LOL!) and at the end of the day you don't want to get your little one hurt.
The small area offers a small two tier play-tower which is very soft and features a wavy slide, ball pool, swing and soft climbing frame. Apart from that there is a pirate's ship that can be taken more or less totally to pieces and consists of many soft parts that can either be put back in place (it's a bit like a giant, soft puzzle) or enjoyed just by themselves. There are also some soft see-saws or rings, the later are lovely for babies as they offer support to sit up while the little one is playing with the balls. Ball pools can be found in both play areas and generally you could say that the balls can be found everywhere all over the place. Watch your step and don't let your kids throw them around in the eating area, it's not much fun to get one of those in your full coffee cup, trust me!
If you have a very small child, I'd recommend to come during the day when the older ones are at school and to avoid busy times like weekends. The small area is for children up to four and even while they are still small themselves they can get very wild here.
The giant play-tower offers several levels and really looks impressive. All levels are connected with each other and can be reached from various locations. There are several ways to get up with varying difficulty levels. Inside the frame there is a multitude of activities to enjoy, from huge balls that can be used to balance on, a soft football pitch, punch bags, slides of varying lengths and shapes, soft-ball canons and more.
It's certainly enough to keep my kids busy for hours.
A favourite is the huge mega-slide. Kids need to use a mat to slide down otherwise there is a danger that they might get "burns". They have changed those mats a few months ago and while the old ones went down really fast, the new ones are very slow and even sometimes stop in the middle. Of course the kids don't enjoy this as much any more as they used to and it is tempting for them to go down without mat. The staff will tell them off if they realise, and they have every reason to, but I can somehow understand that the children are a bit disappointed. My girls certainly hope that they will exchange those mats soon again and that they will be able to slide down in the speed they used to.
Due to the fact that this is a very high warehouse it can get very, very hot on the upper levels of the play-tower. Especially on top of the slide it always seems a bit too tropical for my taste. As the children are constantly on the move in here they can get really hot, so we always make sure that they just wear a T-shirt. Even in winter, they can put their jumpers back on before we leave.
Eating/grown up area:
The eating and grown-up area is perfectly located in between the two play-areas. So you are able to watch your children, no matter on which side they are playing. Very helpful if you have one or more on each side! There is also huge TV screen that shows the big play area which will help you to supervise you little ones without having to get up all the time. It would be more helpful if the TV would not only show the top of the slide though as this is usually where the camera seems to point on.
Seating is ample; if all tables are taken there is a second sitting area on the mezzanine that overlooks the small children's area. The only downside here is that you won't be able to see the big play-tower at all. For that it is quieter and more peaceful (which is a word that generally doesn't really match with Crazy Kids) as you don't have the kids that are running in between the two areas passing from your table all the time. Apart from watching and drinking coffee there isn't really much more for grown-ups to do. There are usually some newspapers and magazines lying around that have been left behind by other visitors or been supplied by the centre.
The Food :
Now this is the only real disappointment at Crazy Kids. They offer a quite big range of hot and cold snacks for children and grown ups, but in my opinion the food there is just horrible. The snacks/dishes consist mainly of fast food, such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets, chips, pizza, etc and even the other food available seems to be either out of the can or just warmed up. Nothing tastes really fresh and everything is very greasy. Once my husband and me decided to give the tuna salad a try. What we got where a few leaves of lettuce on which a huge blob of tuna in mayonnaise (the same stuff they use to fill the tuna sandwiches with) and an equally huge blob of rather greasy coleslaw were placed. To round up the experience we've got each two slices of soft white bread with the salad. Not quite what we expected.
In the meantime we don't eat there anymore at all and just stick to coffee/ juice and a donut in between and eat afterwards either at home or somewhere else. The prices though are reasonable; it's just the taste and quality that we are not happy with. I'd rather pay a bit more and get something that is really freshly prepared and healthier than Maccaroni Cheese out of a can or a salad that will send your cholesterol levels up to the sky.
We have never had any problems with the staff at Crazy Kids at all and have found them always to be very friendly, attentive and polite. Many of them are still very young, which is no surprise in a place like this, but the place is run very professionally and if there should be a problem with misbehaving children they will make sure that nobody gets harmed. I have nothing but praise for them. The tables in the restaurant are cleaned regularly, the toilets are clean. Well, they don't have an attendant in there and the customers are mostly very small, so there can be paper lying around sometimes but usually it is tidied up quickly.
Crazy Kids offers a variety of themed parties to celebrate birthdays or other occasions. We've had one birthday party there and we can't complain about the organisation. We didn't need to do anything, the guests were greeted at the entrance, parcels collected in big bags and the kids entertained the whole time. The food included in the offer was more than enough and all of the children, our birthday child and its little guests, were happy and enjoyed their time. All we needed to do was bring a cake and candles and make some photos. Prices vary; depending on which party you are interested in, all offers can be seen on their website.
I'd really recommend Crazy Kids to everybody who has children in the age groups that apply. It's a great place to have fun for them, lots of activities and you will really get them moving. Ours are usually totally knocked out by the time we leave and sleep like angels once they've been put in bed. The number of activities in here is really great, the play items seem clean and well maintained and the staff is friendly. If they'd only change the menu a bit ...
The Crazy Kids Adventure Play centre is a massive, air conditioned, modern warehouse fitted out for high adventure and excitement in a controlled and monitored environment. This is children's playtime entertainment at it's very best and safest.