I went to the launch of Mattel Play Liverpool yesterday with my four year old twins and they had an absolute ball. Situated right next to What’s Cooking on the Albert Dock in Liverpool, Mattel Play opens to the public this morning and tickets for the popular weekend slots are already flying out of the door.
So what is Mattel Play?
It’s explained on the website as interactive indoor fun across three themed zones – Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam.
For local fans of Underwater Street in Liverpool it is a similar style of experience, there are shops, booking halls, telephones, fire engines, more things to spark the imagination than you can count. When I say similar to Underwater Street I don’t mean exactly, this place is brand new and is rumoured to have cost in excess of £1.5million to put together. It literally shines as you walk through the door.
What it isn’t is soft play. Whilst there is a ball pool, this isn’t somewhere to bring the kids and leave them to play whilst you have coffee. This is an experience you all enjoy wandering round together. For some families this won’t work for them but for others it will be loved.
You walk through the gleaming cafe area up the stairs and straight into the Thomas & Friends area. My girls wore the go pro for the Echo and you can see what they saw here. They literally ran in whooping and you can see just how shiny and new it is! They didn’t quite know what to explore first.
After Thomas & Friends it was onto Bob the Builder. There is a lot of activities to do in this room; blocks to build with, games to play and even pipes mazes to build. My two had a field day in here but the real test will come when this room is full and how it will cope. We were reassured by staff that they will keep a sensible eye on user numbers to ensure that everyone can enjoy the room and I hope this will be the case when we return.
You then head downstairs to find Fireman Sam. My slight concern about the split level play is that I could lose sight of my three if we all came together so would probably need to make sure I had at least one other adult with me. My two raced down the stairs and loved swapping their builders hard hat for their fire safety hat and spent at least half an hour putting out fires, jumping down the fireman’s pole and racing off in the fire engine. They made up stories, used the loud speaker to call an emergency and simply loved the countless buttons they could press without being told not to touch anything. There was plenty of imagination at play and it made me smile a lot to see how much they were getting out of it.
Once they had finished being Fireman Sam, we went round again! At busy times Mattel Play have advised that they may limit play to around 2 hours to ensure everyone gets chance to get in and they don’t get too busy. 2 hours will be about right I think, although we arrived at 10 and I did have to drag them out around 12.
The party room has been cleverly done, with a chair that helpfully fits both girls, as I have already had requests for their next birthday party to be held at Mattel Play.
Mattel Play Liverpool opens officially today and there is currently an introductory price of £10 per child and £2 for accompanying adult. Babies up to 12 months old are free of charge. If you are visiting during school term time there is a rate of £10 for parent and child and this includes a drink for both the child and parent.
The test for Mattel Play will of course come when they are full (probably this coming Easter weekend) but all signs are that this will be a fantastic addition to children’s play in the North West.
NB: We were invited to Mattel Play for the press launch and all views are my own.
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