“ Address: Old Forest Rd / Winnersh / Wokingham / RG41 1JA / England „
Where we live, my girls are very fortunate to have a number of soft play places within driving distance. The nearest one to us is Monkey Mates which seem to be a firm favourite for a number of reasons.
Monkey Mates is situated on the outskirts of Wokingham. It's actually almost at the end of a back lane and I guess that many people don't actually know it's there. It has a lot of parking and we have never yet been unable to park when we have been there. It is open from 9.30 until 6 pm everyday except Sundays when it is open between 10 am and 5 pm.
The entrance prices are quite reasonable as it costs £3.25 for under threes and £3.95 for over threes for a one and a half hour play session. If they are not too busy they do tend to turn a blind eye if you stay a little bit longer. Also, and this pleases me greatly, adults do not have to pay anything at all to get in. This is not always the case in these soft play areas and when you consider that the child will not be there without the adult it can be a bit of a rip off. So that is definitely a thumbs up for Monkey Mates!
There are three different play areas depending on the age of the child. These are designated for Under Threes, Under Fives and for all ages. There doesn't seem to be an upper age limit for the equipment but I guess it's about 11! The Under Three area is quite small and consists of a ball pool and ball tubes, puzzles and soft animals. When my daughters were much younger this was a great area for them and there was plenty of activity to keep them and Mummy amused. Also, as it is a separate area it's unlikely that little ones will be trampled by bigger ones. As my daughters are older now, that is no longer an area we use now.
The next area is the Under Fives area and that has a ball pool, little slide, crawl tunnel, net bridge and puzzles. Lately thay have also added some mini gym equipment such as a treadmill and an exercise bike.These all seem very popular and my girls love them. This area is slightly bigger and there is a great deal to keep children entertained.
The main area is for all children and has tons of stuff including dizzy discs, obstacle climb, ball cannon range, spooky dark room, rope bridge, crawl tunnels, spiral slide and an astra slide. The slide is quite high and fast and the few occasions that I have accompanied either of my girls down it it has quite taken my breath away and left my stomach behind! Luckily they no longer want Mummy to come around with them - phew!!
It's good that there are all of these separate areas but they are not supervised so you often see older children in areas where they should not really be. Also, the way the whole area is constructed is like a bit of a maze. This is OK until you suddenly hear your child crying and you can see her but you can't work out for the life of you how to reach and comfort her. Luckily this does not happen too much with my two.
Parents can go round with their children but as I alluded to earlier, it's quite a relief when they don't want you too. There is a lot of seating and tables for parents to sit at and a very nice self service cafe. Tea and coffee is good and at very reasonable prices at just around £1 for either. They also have lots of soft drinks and snacks for children. They do a lunch menu too which is a range of sandwhiches, pizzas, etc. Although not the healthiest of food, it is very tasty and I'm happy to buy it for the girls for an occasional treat. The children's menu is very good and the prices are much more reasonable than you might expect. The staff are all very friendly and helpful too.
When the weather is warm there is also a fantastic outdoor play area all on a child safe surface. Here you will find a large climbing frame, 4 swings, a roundabout, an assault course frame, see saw and 3 springy animals plus lots of sit and ride tractors, bikes and cars and a traversing climbing wall. There is tons to do here and it's great on exceptionally busy days as it does spread out the hoards of noisy children a bit more! My daughters really love this area and are quite disappointed if it is raining and they can't go outside!
Although it's a bit off the beaten track. it can be very popular. At these times I found the noise almost deafening and you often see children accidentally knocking into each other often ending up in tears. I can't see much pleasure in being there at times like this so I prefer to go either at the beginning or the ends of a day when it is not so busy!
It always feels quite clean and tidy and the toilets are always clean too - although maybe there aren't quite enough of these for their busiest times!
A lot of people choose to have birthday parties at Monkey Mates. I wouldn't choose this sort of party myself as I think they tend to be a bit impersonal but my daughters have been to quite a few and thoroughly enjoyed them. You pay £8.95 per guest and this includes their ply time, party food and a balloon. The birthday child also gets a free t-shirt. That does seem quite good value if you like that kind of thing.
Overall, we really like Monkey Mates. It's an inexpensive and fun place to visit whatever the weather and children are bound to enjoy themselves. If you want to find out more about it you can visit the website at
A childrens activity play centre.