In the never-ending hunt for things to do when it’s raining, this morning my four year old and I headed to Play Town – Cardiff’s newest indoor play venue which has recently opened on Clive Road in Canton.
We paid for our admission ourselves and Play Town did not know we would be writing this review but we enjoyed it so much we wanted to share.
This is nothing like your usual play centre. The focus here is on imaginative role play, with Play Town home to a mini street of businesses including a cafe/ice cream parlour, a hair salon, a supermarket, a doctor’s surgery, a vets, and a grocery shop, plus a farmyard with caravan and a builders’ yard.
Aimed at those aged under seven, admission costs £3.50 per child with accompanying adults and pre-walkers free. It works on a pay-per-session basis, with sessions as follows: 10am-11.30am; 12pm-1.30pm; 2pm-3.30pm; 4pm – 5.30pm. You can book online to reserve your space or chance it and turn up with entry on a first-come-first-served basis.
The venue has a capacity of around 20-25 children so it’s particularly good if you have more than one small child or a toddler and a baby and you don’t want to spend all morning chasing children in opposite directions.
There’s no coffee shop or cafe, no snack machines, no coin-operated rides. The focus here is entirely on play rather than getting to you spend a fortune. One of the friends I went with said at first the idea of not being able to get a coffee was disappointing but it actually meant her daughter played non-stop because it didn’t occur to her to demand snacks and so on. Not having a parents’ area to sit in perhaps also encourages parents to get involved in the playing too. Children are welcome to eat snacks in the baby area at the back – which has activity centres and bouncer chairs for babies and comfortable settees for parents, ideal for feeding babies.
If you did want a coffee before or after your session, then The Bee & Honey across the road is very accommodating for families.
There’s a no-shoe policy for children and adults, and the floor was quite cold when we visited, so do take warm socks. Shoes, coats and buggies can be left in the entrance area.
There’s a toilet complete with child toilet seat, step and baby change unit. Importantly it was really clean when we visited.
There’s no onsite parking but we managed to park on the main road outside. However it is a busy area so the website details a number of free car parks all within a 10-15 minute walk.
The level of detail in the various play rooms is incredible and it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into creating the different ‘rooms’. There are mini crutches for the doll patients; some of the animals in the vets are wearing plastic cone collars. There’s a post bag full of wooden letters addressed to each business, all of which have red post boxes outside. The shop has everything from cornflakes, bread and milk to toothbrushes and toothpaste for sale. The hair salon has hand mirrors so you can see the back of your hair. The Kenwood food mixer in the cafe actually spins around. Plus there are elements of local humour too – the surgery is called Doctor Splott, as in the area of Cardiff; the shop is called Taffco, while the farm is called Cantonia.
My four year old loved the construction site area and spent ages using the concrete mixer to make cement to build a wall from the bricks, as well as posting and collecting all the letters, and serving up ice cream in the shop. He spent about 10 minutes cutting and brushing my hair in the salon. We visited with two friends with daughters age two who particularly loved the doctor’s surgery and the vets.
An hour and a half seems an ideal length for the sessions and good value for £3.50. It’s long enough that children have time to play and explore properly, especially if you take time out for snacks and toilet trips.
As we walked out through the door, he said, “That was really good.” I think that means we’ll definitely be back!
Play Town Cardiff, 58a, Clive Road, Canton, Cardiff. CF5 1H