“ Moat Road / East Grinstead / Tel.: 01342 328616 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. „
Jesters is a soft playhouse for children under 9 years old. I guess not everyone has children or are new to the whole kids entertainment thing so I will explain what this place involves.
The main door is always kept locked whether they are open or not, which I find very appealing. This is for two reasons: one so that your kids cant escape out the main door without you noticing and two so that no unsavoury elements can get in without the staff noticing!
Once inside you are faced with an enclosed counter where the staff sit. Through a window at the front you pay for your session and through a window at the back the member of staff can see into the play area.
Down an open kind of corridor is the actual play area. The thing I like about this place the most is that it is not too big. You can always see your child wherever they end up within the enclosed area. There is a kind of wall that separates the main play area from the corridor and this comes up to waist height with a gate at either end to enter through. These are lockable from the outside so adults can lean over to open/close but little fingers should not be able to reach the locks to get out.
There are quite a few chairs for adults down the edge of the play area and a larger sit down area at one end with a couple of tables and bench like seats.
The main play area is made up of younger and older childrens areas. The younger childrens area is made up of two sections. The first is a ball pool. I am sure everyone is familiar with these but just in case you arent it is basically a very large pit, rectangular in shape in this case, filled to the brim with smallish plastic balls. The balls are very light weight, although not so much that they will squash when sat or dived on but not so hard and heavy that they hurt if thrown. They are all different colours and the idea is to just jump in and play. Adults are allowed in there and the kids always have fun covering me up with balls and trying to swim or even walk in the hundreds of coloured balls. Entrance to this pool is via a slope, which is covered in padded vinyl material. In fact everything is covered in this stuff and is brilliant for the little toddlers, as they just dont hurt themselves when they fall over or trip.
The second part is made up of a flat area, padded with the vinyl, and filled with large shapes covered in plastic vinyl. There are cylinders and squares. Also rocker style shapes and long thin rectangles. The idea is basically for the kids to use these to climb over, ride on, build with and anything else their imaginations can do with them.
Just outside this area is the wall of plastic pockets where the kids can leave their shoes. They have to be removed before entering the soft play area for safety reasons.
Although there are no restrictions for different aged children once inside as the parents are responsible for where their child goes, there is an area built with older kids in mind. It has an entrance where there are lots of hanging cylinders, like thin punch bags and you have to knock them out of the way to get in. You are immediately faced with a much larger ball pool where a slide ends up and to the right is a set of stairs. Well more like a slope with padded rungs actually but it is easy to get up. This leads to the second of three levels and there are more padded things for the kids to squeeze through and crawl through and wriggle under. It is harder to get to the third level as you have to use ropes and zig zag slopes to get up there but it much the same as the second level in terms of things to do. The entrance to the slide is on the second level and it is the enclosed type where you feel like you are in pitch black when going down. It ends up in the ball pool so its an easy landing that the kids love. Only going from second to first level its not too long either.
Everything in here is very brightly coloured and is great for the kids sensory vision. It is enjoyable and cheerful to be here. They have pictures of nursery rhyme characters on the walls and there is usually some soft music playing in the background. By soft I mean quiet, not lullaby stuff. I think it is mostly pop tunes but it is not so loud that you cant hear your kid calling you if they are stuck or something.
Near the staff kiosk there are toilet facilities and these are clean and adequate for the size of the facility. I have never had to queue for the loo and the sinks etc have always been well stocked with soap, loo roll and hand towels. Outside this area is a small fridge with cartons of drink and a tea and coffee-making machine. These are a bit on the pricey side at 70p a carton and the same for a tea or coffee but they do let you take in your own drinks for the children in sports containers etc. No food is allowed to be eaten on the premises and they do not sell any either. I think this is to stop any potential mess and also as the building for Jesters is housed within the grounds of the King Sports & Leisure Centre there is a separate café for eating if you are hungry afterwards.
Jester is open in term time on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am to 4pm (shut for lunch 12-1) and it will cost you £2.75 for a 1-hour session or £3.45 for a 1.5-hour session. We do usually go for the 1.5 hour session unless we get there late and this is more than adequate as if you have to join in with the kids it is actually quite exhausting! If your little one is under 1 year old it will only cost you £1.40 per hour as they are going to be much more limited to what they can enjoy inside. School holiday times vary depending on what is happening. Group bookings can be made at the price of £2.55 an hour per child. This could be good if you are going there as part of a post natal group or something.
There is loads of parking available in the car park outside which is jointly used by the leisure centre and this will cost you £1. This price is however deducted from your bill in Jesters if you show them the ticket.
Last thing to mention about it is that they also offer inclusive birthday parties. You need to have a minimum of 10 children and it will cost £8.95 per head. You basically get the whole place to yourselves for an hour and then you go over to the leisure centre for hot food and party games. The games have to be organised by the parents but the room is available just for the kids party and you can decorate it how ever you like. You will need to supply the party bags and the cake but they will supply the rest of the food. We have decided to do this again this year for my son. He will be 5 in a few weeks and this just takes the hassle out of organising a party ourselves. He loves the ball pool still and all the soft play area so it is not too young for him yet and we will make the most of it! Staff are on hand for the whole time to supervise but it is advised that other parents stay too for ratio purposes. They say 1 adult for every 5 kids which I think is reasonable.
Overall I think this place is very good value for money. Both of my children enjoy it and we have gone there from them being very young right through to current ages of 5 and 2 and it is still a much loved place. The play and seating area is kept clean and tidy and the lay out is such that if you go with a friend you can sit and chat while still being able to see your children and make sure they are safe. The facilities inside the play area itself are great too as there is something for all age ranges up to 9 in terms of ease of use and interest.
Staff have always been very friendly and helpful and during the parties they will bring out drinks for the kids as part of the price. This is great in places like this as they get very hot and something is needed to help them keep cool.
All the levels and equipment seem very safe and secure to me. I have been on the top level and leaned back against the netting attached to the sides. I have always felt this is secured and never seen any ripped or detached areas. They must do constant checks for this type of thing, as the consequences of ripped netting could be fatal. I am satisfied this place is safe for my kids to play in.
Overall they love it and for a fairly reasonable entrance fee they get an hour and a half to let off energy and have fun, either with me or with friends if we go with someone else.
Jesters is situated in the grounds of the Kings Leisure Centre, Moat Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex.