run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday 26 December 2019

Review: Dinotropolis, Bluewater

The prospect of soft play normally gives me sweaty palms. Especially on the weekend. Hot, sweaty, packed, scream-filled. No thanks. But we've just visited the brand-new Dinotropolis centre in Bluewater - it's soft play, but with a twist. It's actually really good.

What is it? A massive dinosaur-themed adventure playground, with a decent-sized area for tots (ball pond, two slides, squashy things to hurl around) and a huge expanse of twisty slides, climbing areas, soft ball-shooting machines to control, massive spacehopper-style balls to jump around - all surrounded by huge, animatronic T-rexes and more, who moved their heads, twisted around, and generally delighted kids, and, er scared my toddler!

What sets Dinotropolis apart, though, is the 'extras' to the usual soft play experience. For the £12 entry ticket (which grants 90 minutes' playing-time), there's also an arts and crafts area, with stacks of dinosaur colouring sheets. They don't appear to be special, but then there's a large screen in the corner; you scan in your coloured-in pterodactyl or other dino pal, and the exact design has suddenly flown onto the screen with your name on and is whizzing around. Cue agog kids. (And adults!)

Also in this quieter area there's a sand fossil-digging play area, and a computerised sandpit where kids make sand castles or dig ravines and impressive volcanoes or lakes, packed with moving dinosaurs, are projected onto the creation. 

There are also go-kart-style peddle-bikes with a circuit - the 'raptor run' - that kids as young as two and as old as eight were all enjoying. 

Soon a dino-themed kids' escape room is also going to open (tickets including access to this are £15), to build the entertainment. Overall, though, we easily filled two hours here, with a three-year-old and one-year-old beaming throughout. Obviously at that age we followed the kids, but plenty of parents, and grandparents, were sitting down relaxing whilst their kids sprinted off to explore. 

The downsides? The food is bog-standard at best: the meal deal included in the Ranger Pass (£20) gives you a sandwich; the rest of the fodder is mainly chips with small burgers etc. I'd use one of the far better eateries in Bluewater before or after the session, then let the kids fully enjoy their 90-minutes in what is a fantastic new attraction. Then, of course, I packed the exhausted kids into their buggies for my fun shopping session...

* Dinotropolis invited us to review the centre but rest assured, we're very gobby and only rave about things we really like.


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