“ Address: Bookers Way / Todwick Road / Dinnington / Sheffield S25 3SH / South Yorkshire „
The Big Tops is an indoor soft play centre for under 11s, located in Dinnington, South Yorkshire. It is located as many of these places are on an industrial unit, in a large building on Bookers Way, Dinnington, Sheffield, S25 3SH.
Some limited car parking spaces are available in the yard outside the unit, and at busy times, it is most likely you will end up parking on the street outside. The 40 or so spaces do tend to fill very quickly.
There is some public transport to the venue, but this seemed a bit limited to me. There is a bus stop a little distance up the road from the entrance to the industrial estate. Personally if I were having to negotiate public transport to get to this venue which is actually in the next town to us, I would be thinking twice about going.
Walking into the venue, you approach the desk, having to pay for your session and sign in before you can enter. The cost of a play session is £4.50 for a 2 hour play session. I've found that here, because the venue is smaller than some play centres in the area, these times are quite strictly held, and you will be called over the tannoy, unless the venue is not too busy.
After paying, there is a large area where the parents can sit at either tables or settees. Directly opposite the entrance is the toddlers area, really meant for children up to about 2. The area is all padded and there is a very small ball pool designed for maybe one or two children, and a selection of baby toys and foam shapes for the smaller kids to play with. There is a foam foot high wall around this area, which is enough to stop a younger child escaping, and it has items sewn into it that twist and rattle to make it appealing in a sensory way.
The main play area is quite large. The focus of it is a set of 4 large wavy slides, that are a lot of fun. I've been down them a few times myself with the excuse of helping a small child. At the bottom there is a race track area, and about 10 cosy coupe cars of various designs for whichever child is lucky enough to get in there first. There is also the usual obstacles to climb up and round on the way up to the top of the slide.
The other side of the play area has a large football pitch/basketball court area just in case your kids have not burned off enough steam by the time that they have been round the rest of the room.
The venue is quite popular for parties, and they really do seem to cram them in. We've attended a number of parties here, and the format seems to be a free for all play session, followed by all being called down to the reception. A talking moose head on the wall then talks to the kids and sings happy birthday. The birthday party attendees are then marched around the venue clapping along, and led into the party room where a selection of hot and cold food made on site is served to them.
After the food, there might be time for more play, but all the parties we have been to have had a half hour disco and party games session, before your two hours are up.
The venue seems to have good offers on in the school holidays. I noticed for £45 I could have bought a pass where I could take my two children there to play an unlimited number of times for the whole 6 weeks. During the holiday, they also had a timetable of activities such as craft sessions where children could join in.
During term time, they also do discounted play sessions for smaller pre-school kids, including musical play sessions.
There is also the option to do some sort of laser quest. I assume this is in a room at the top of the venue as it is the only part I have not been in.
Dotted around the room are several child magnet machines such as sweet dispensers, soft toy grabbers, pinball. You could spend a lot of money if you were to give in to pester power.
The cafe on site makes fresh food such as sandwiches, jacket potatoes and kids meals. The food is fairly inexpensive and reasonable quality. We have eaten there when we have had a play session, and the meal deal for kids allows you to pick so many items of your choice out of a selection of items, and the sanwiches we had were tasty. A pot of tea for two is only £1.90, to give you an idea of cheapness. When all 4 of us ate there it was about £15.
The site is a little bit older, but still in good maintained condition. It is mostly staffed by fairly young ladies, but all are enthusiastic, and good with the kids, and we have always had a good time when we have been there.
It is a good place to kill a few hours with the kids, though it can get a little noisy when all these parties are going on.
The only real negative I spotted is that the male toilets and baby change room are out of the gate where you go in, so it means all the little boys run to the ladies, failing to flush and leaving puddles everywhere by the time they have done so. I can't help but feel this is the fault of the little boys and their parents who should be supervising them personally, but it does kind of spoil the venue a little.