Play Factore

So today my OH got invited to Play Factore in Manchester by Tired Mummy of Two. You can read what my OH thought of it over at Mushypea, Sprout et al but I thought I would offer a father’s take on it.

Play Factore, for those now wondering, is a big indoor play centre situated under Chill Factor near the Trafford Centre in Manchester, it’s aimed at children ages 0-12 but I would suggest those 2-12 will get more out of the day. That being said, our little man had a good time and it did cater for his age to a certain degree; you just have to watch for the over enthusiastic larger kids who needless to say don’t pay any thought to the 8 month old they are trying to barge out of the way.

Walking into the place my first reaction was wow, second reaction was oh my god I wish I was ten again. It really did look that good, 15 meters high it’s described as but it looked bigger. The centre piece was a huge slide from top to bottom running the full length of the room. The next thing I spotted half way up was a mini football pitch with a bunch of kids kicking lumps out of each other, I really was itching to dump my son and run off and play but alas I’m 36 and apparently not allowed.

So after taking it all in, the first step was to try and get in the place; the queue wasn’t very big but for some reason we were in it for 20 minutes. The young kids behind the counter really didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about their work and to get 4 or 5 families paid and into the place before us really did take 20 minutes. Now I hate queuing, really hate it and it can really put me off very quickly, so I was not very impressed by the time we had managed to get through the gate. At least being in the queue for so long enabled me to take a good look at the price list. Not cheap is how I would describe it, for our son it would have been £1.95 which is fine but the £4 each for me and my OH just to be with him is over the top and at £10.95 for over 5’s a family of four can run up to £30 before you have even considered food.

Once in, we made our way to the soft play area which in its own right was pretty impressive, lots for the little ones to do: slides, climbing areas, lots of soft squashy toys and cars to push them around in. One thing that really struck me as our little man is having a good play is there is no supervision at all. Now I get we are all supervising our own children but this is a fast paced child’s play centre and accidents do happen, so where was the first aid? Actually I can answer that it was one of the less than enthusiastic counter staff with a small first aid box. Not quite what I would expect with over 100 children running rampant throughout the place.

My own safety concerns aside, the soft play was well thought out, including a small sensory area that was my son’s favourite place, he loved all the flashing lights and glowing things to twist and turn and twirl about.

After an hour the little man needed a drink and some food and here lay the biggest problem of all. There were a number of tables and chairs which were either taken or reserved in a German like draping of the coats over chairs; wonder what time they arrived to do that?  We tried to sit at one said table only to be accosted by an extremely rude mum who wouldn’t even allow us 10 minutes to feed our son. If there is one thing I hate more than queues it is rude people and so my first impression on a visit to a play centre of this ilk is it’s every man for himself.

After some food he was back to the play and after about 2 hours in total he decided it was time to leave. Have to say the 2 hours flew and our little man did enjoy himself which always means me and his mum have a good time.

All in all I would say Play Factore was a really good experience especially for our son, it’s not been open long and I am sure they can fix some of the minor niggles I had. The one thing they certainly have got spot on is the content aimed both at younger and older children and I do think it would have kept me occupied for hours and hours as a child. Even our little man managed 2 hours in the place which is pretty good and is testament to them having lots for them to see and do. I do feel at the current prices it’s more of a treat kind of place to visit rather than our local soft play centre which is £1 and no charge for adults but the content more than holds its own for the price.

I would definitely go again, a good day out for all the family

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