AT least once a week we meet up with Santi’s friends for a play date and a catch up, and we love trying out different places to mix it up a bit. Last week one of the girls mentioned an indoor play area called Crazy Town, which is on Gorseinon High Street, and somewhere we hadn’t been before. It sounded fab, with little rooms set up as different types of buildings for the children to play in. Being just over two years old, our little ones are starting to get into imaginative play, so it seemed like something they would love.
Our visit was on a Tuesday during term time, and we arrived at 12.30pm. My first impressions weren’t great, as my friend text to let me know the play area was on the first floor and there was no lift. I was glad she warned me as I’d planned to take the pram in for Ezra to nap, but carrying it up a flight of stairs wasn’t an option. Instead, I kept him in his car seat (and we all know how heavy they are) and carried him up in that. Crazy Town also doesn’t have its own car park, so we had to leave the car a few streets away – not ideal when you’re carrying a car seat and trying to herd a toddler in the right direction.
When we arrived, we rang the bell at the reception desk and waited for a member of staff to let us in. She apologised for the wait, and we soon discovered the two workers were in charge of taking payments, letting people in from the toilets and manning the cafe. Despite this they were chirpy and helpful the whole time. We paid £5 for entry and a meal for Santi, which I thought was good value.
The front door leads directly into the Crazy Town “street” which is made up of a kitchen, supermarket, dressing up room, building site, Lego room, hospital and police station. I really liked how each room had relevant toys and costumes for children to dress up in, and how the floor running alongside them was made to look like a road. However, with this being the way in and out of the building, and the way to the toilets, it got crowded very easily. We’ve since been back a couple of times and it has been a lot quieter – I’m not sure why the first time was so busy!
We parked up in the cafe and ordered food (sausage, beans and chips for Santi, and a jacket potato with cheese and beans for me) and headed in to play. Santi went straight for the building site, put on a hard hat and got to work making a tower with foam bricks. I was really impressed with the amount of toys available – there was a crane, tool sets, cement mixer and high-vis jackets – and this is the area we spent most of our time in.
Santi also loved the hospital room, which had two beds with dolls as patients, first aid kits and doctors’ gowns to wear, and he enjoyed checking if the dolls were ok using a stethoscope.
The police station also had costumes, as well as a Cosy Coupe police car; the kitchen and supermarket were well stocked with food and cooking equipment, and the dressing up room had loads of outfits to choose from. One of the little girls in our group loved walking around in princess heels, fairy wings and a glittery hat, and Santi dressed up as Ironman with a Power Ranger mask.
For the concept of different rooms to work, specific toys needed to be in the correct place, and staff regularly went in to make sure everything was put back where it should be.
When we meet up with friends and their children it’s nice to let them play on their own and watch them from a distance to make sure everything is ok. Sadly, the lay-out of Crazy Town makes this a bit difficult. There is a wall dividing the play area from the cafe, so you can’t see what the little ones are up to – meaning your options are to sit in the cafe and hope everything is ok, or hover in the play area and crowd the rooms. The first time we went it was so busy that we had to watch them closely as they are only two years old and there were a lot of older children there. The other two times it was quiet enough to sit and chat as we were the only group there and we could hear what the children were getting up to.
Overall, I enjoyed our visit to Crazy Town. I think the concept of different themed rooms is really fun, and encourages imaginative play, which is great for Santi’s age. However, there were a few flaws, mainly to do with the lay-out – not being able to see from the cafe, and having to walk through the play area to get in and out or to the toilets. The price was reasonable for play and a meal, and additional meals are well-priced but I think babies under 1 should go free (there’s a £1 charge for six month to one-year-olds, then £2.50 for 12 months to two-year-olds, and £3.50 for over threes). Despite the flaws, as this is the only play area of its kind near us we will definitely be going back.
*review carried out independently, with prices correct as of October 2016