“ Address: 208 Charles Street / Greenhithe / Kent / Dartford / DA9 9AJ „
Summer holidays are well and truly underway and last week when the weather was bad I thought I would give this soft play area a go at keeping the kids entertained.
Whale of a time is a big converted warehouse in Greenhithe Kent. It is very easy to find right next to Stone Crossing railway station. It is set on a residential street and although they do have a car park, it is fairly small so parking can be a problem, I have a friend who lives on the same street and she says it is always a nightmare with double parking and people blocking other cars in.
Ok from the outside it looks rather run down, there were broken chairs and tables outside the main door and the building looks quite grubby.
Once inside you find yourself at the desk, entrance is £4.00 for under 4's, £4.80 for over fours and £1.00 for babies under one. This was for two hours.
You are let in through a security gate which is very good at stopping children from escaping.
There are lots of tables and chairs, '140 seater cafe' according to the flyer. However on this summer holiday tuesday I couldn't find one of the 140 seats to sit on the place was mobbed. After about half an hour a lady left and I won the rugby scrum for the seat.
The centre is divided into two sections one for the under fours and the big main section for older children aged 4-11.
The under four section is not very stimulating, it has a very small soft area with steps going up and a slide into some balls. There are several toys in there like the little tike cars and bikes and a wendy house. This area would be ok for under 2's but a 3-4 year old would get bored very quickly. The main problem with this area is that the gate on the section didn't close so all the babies were escaping and the poor parents were running after them the whole time.
The big section is much better it has a huge big slide that lands into a big pool of play balls, a bouncy castle, football area, spooky section, other smaller slides, zip wires, big bouncy balls, scramble nets to climb, ladders bridges etc. It is quite large and kept my two children aged 4 and 9 entertained and hot !!! I didn't see any staff on the equipment, I know it is not a childcare facility but one of the slides is very high and I think it would be wise to have a couple of staff milling about in case of any accidents.
There is a cafe that serves hot and cold food, tea coffee and cold drinks, the food was quite nice I had a jacket potato and it came with a little side salad, the children had a burger and chips which they enjoyed. I didn't like how the cafe had all the sweets so outrageously displayed at child eye level, obviously this is how they make money but every time the children walk past the cafe they are reminded of how many lovely sweets, lollies and slush drinks there are on offer.
There are toilets and baby changing facilities, these are not of a very high standard though, they are run down and in quite urgent need of a lick of paint.
Another thing that I really feel strongly about is the amount of 'rides' they have in there at 50p a go, there must have been at least four, my children are too old for them but obviously little kids would want to go on Noddy or Thomas, they also had ball machines, those vending machines that give out toys all £1 a go and they had face painting which I think was £4. I bought my two children there and by the time, I had paid to get in and had lunch it was about £30. I did feel a bit like they were a bit money grabbing and I felt sorry for the parents who were constantly badgered can I have this and that.
Overall I think it is a nice place to take older kids age 5+, its not particularly clean and modern but there are lots for the kids to do, if I went again I would bring drinks with me and go earlier or in term time after school.
Childrens Indoor Play Centres