“ Address: Northway House York Road / Newbury / Berkshire RG14 7NF / Telephone: 01635 580434 „
UPDATE: As of July 2008, Fantasy World has closed down due to a lack of business.
Being a two year old, Harry seems to have endless energy and hates being stuck indoors all day, so I like to try to think of different things for us to do together during the weekdays, and things for us to do as a family when his dad has a few days off from work. My partner mentioned there was a big indoor playcentre just down the road from us and that it might be a great place for us to go with Harry too, and so off we went. It was literally 4 minutes away by car from where I live, so Harry and I also walk down there during the week, lovely! The place is called Fantasyworld.
Fantasy World in Newbury is a large warehouse type space, which is filled with large play equipment suitable for babies through to 8-9 year old children. As you walk in, you have to give your name which is written in the entrance book and the time you arrived, and then you pay. Once in, there is an area for you to put your shoes and bags, although this isn't a secure area so it might be worth not taking along your usual handbag, just the cash for getting in. After this bit comes the fun!
Over to the right is the soft play areas which is designated for the under 3 year olds. The first area is just complete soft play, with shapes which fit into the walls, and other animal soft shapes. This area is meant for the youngest babies, and is probably the safest area, although there is nothing to stop the older children running in and out, so of course you should be with your baby at all times. Adjoining this area is the Under-3's soft play area. This again has many soft play features, blocks, animal shapes, but also there is another feature. There is a soft staircase up to a slide which goes into a ballpool. It's only a small side but great for toddlers and the ball pool is well stocked with balls and is great fun. There are 2 exits, one back to the stairs and another to more soft play.
The bigger areas are primarily for the older children but the younger ones are allowed on it as long as they are supervised and accompanied by their parents. Harry adores going on the bigger equipment as he loves to explore, and during the week, its only little toddlers on it anyway! There are 3 seperate areas, although they are adjoined through various rope bridges, tunnels and things. There are 3 big slides, each one in a seperate area. However, they are all quite big and very fast, so its worth going down them with your child on your lap so they don't get scared. Harry loves going down with his dad, and we're much happier as we know he's safe and won't end tumbling down and hurting himself.
Obviously being aimed at slightly older children, Harry and the other toddlers struggle with a few things around the larger play areas. There are some rope bridges and wooden slatted bridges which are difficult for them to do because of the unstability underneath their feet, but with a parents help they are okay. We always try to make Harry at least try it, and once he gets going he's usually okay. Throughout the larger areas, there are various hanging bags (like punch bags) for children to weave through, ball pits, tunnels to crawl through and balancing bars which are all great fun. Children love exploring new things, and there is plenty for them to do here, you can have hours of fun!
One thing I would mention is safety. I always make Harry wear long-sleeved tops, jeans and socks, because going down the slides, you could easily get friction burns on elbows (which I got today and it REALLY hurts!). Also, jeans is essential legwear to stop sore knees and legs. There are signs up around the building telling you these things but its worth mentioning here, as some parents don't bother with long sleeves etc and you see lots of crying children with poorly elbows! Oh, and of course food and drink isn't permitted inside the play area, only by the shoes or in the eating area.
Harry is now 2 years old, and on the weekends and during half term, they charge £4.75 for unlimited play. However, during term time, there is a session frm 9.30-3.30 called Toddler Time which is for under 4 year olds, and the price is halved for this period of time, so we pay roughly £2.50. Adults are free of charge. The best thing about this time is that the bigger children aren't running around madly so the younger children can play without fear of being knocked over or pushed out of the way. I feel Harry is much safer in toddler time, and we prefer to go during this time rather than when it will be busier.
Fantasy World is based in the town of Newbury in Berkshire, and is situated on York Road. Telephone Number is 01635 580434. Open 9.30am-7pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sundays throughout the year, except for Christmas and other public holidays. The building also has a dining area where food can be purchased. You can also hold parties at Fantasy World but as Harry hasn't had one yet, I'm not aware of any of the costs!
It's a really good place to spend a few quality hours of fun with your children, and they really will love it. Once Harry gets to the door, he is itching to get inside and really loves it there. He's a real explorer and it's a wonderful safe environment for children of all ages. It's good value for money, well located right next to the town centre and just fun!
Thank you for reading!
Children's fun park.