I’ve been waiting to do my review of Stay and Play in Aylesbury for what seems like aaaaaages and it’s now just days away from opening!! I was very kindly invited down for a sneak peak before they open on Wednesday 27th November 2019. If you’re not sure where it is, Stay and Play is in Hale Leys Shopping centre and is below The Arcade Aylesbury. In fact it’s run by the same people as the Arcade.
The soft play area is split into two sections – the toddler frame and the main frame. You’ll also find a couple of other funky features dotted around that are separate from the frames. There is also the Lounge cafe and plenty of seating.
The toddler soft play frame
The toddler play frame is relatively small. However one thing I really like about it is that it’s nice and easy for babies and toddlers to get around without much parental help. You climb up the slope, go through a little tunnel (which is short enough it’s easy for adults to reach the kids if they decide to stop half way through) and then onto the slide. There’s also a ball pit and ball shower. This has got really easy access up and down via a slope. Again, this makes life a lot easier for the youngest kids. Because we were there alone Middle Child was allowed to play on the ball shower and I swear he wants to get one in our house now! TBF, I find them pretty addictive so I’d be fine with that!!!
Stay and Play Aylesbury wasn’t fully operational when we went to do the review but I know they’ve also got lots of foam bricks, shapes and wobbly things that will be going into this area as well. It’s got a proper gate on it so there’s no risk of little ones escaping.
The main soft play frame
When you look through the window in Hale Leys shopping centre at the soft play frame it doesn’t look like it’s that big. TBH I was a little bit worried about how small it was going to be. I WAS TOTALLY WRONG!! It’s on two levels and they’ve been really well thought out. There’s tons of very cool features in there. It is actually very big and it’s hard to show how big it is in the photos.
Adults cannot walk around most of the sections but Middle Child (8) could walk around easily. That said, I had a bad back when I went down and I was able to get around very easily. The only bit I didn’t do was the rollers but there’s a parallel path you can take instead.
One thing you’ll notice is how light it is in there. They’ve left the ceiling lights in from when it was a shop and there’s various sections with clear perspex flooring so the light gets everywhere. The only section that wasn’t particularly light was the spinning pole but who wants a glaring light when you’re spinning on a pole??
Because it is so light it also means that, despite being quite a deep play frame, there’s good visibility. You can see right to the back without having to go in, which is always an advantage. Admittedly there are a couple of blind spots but that’s always going to happen really.
The soft play features
There is not one, not two but three slides on the main frame. There’s a four lane bumpy slide and two tunnel slides. One of these is particularly short but that’s not the end of the world. They’re quite fast so you ping straight out the end of it. In fact, one of the very few criticisms Middle Child has was that the slides aren’t very long. When you’ve got limited height that was always going to be the case.
It’s quite an open space, or at least it feels like it is, but there are various obstacles to go through and over. There’s also rollers, punch bags, tunnels and a spinning pole. Right in the middle there’s a dangling bouy to swing on. It’s in a really open section and there are some blocks to stand on for smaller kids. This is going to be VERY popular when the soft play opens!! There’s also another bouy that’s set up as a short zip line.
On top of all of this there are a couple of zigzag paths, an infinity mirror, some monkey handles (Middle Child is a big fan) and several portholes to look out of and down. Near one of the entrances there is a very special port hole. If you look down it there’s a video of various fish and rays swimming around. This is very, very cool.
Underneath the big slide is a ball pool and a funky little machine. Sadly it hadn’t been turned on when we visited (like I said we were having a sneak peak and so it wasn’t fully operational). When it is working though you’ll be able to push a button and the balls will levitate. They hadn’t put the balls in yet but having seen how many bags of balls were lying around this is going to be pretty full. Bazinga! This is quite central within the frame so if you’ve got a range of ages you’ll be able to sit in here with the smallest kids and still keep an eye on the bigger ones.
The special features at Stay and Play Aylesbury
As if all of this really cool stuff isn’t enough there’s more! Are you a child of the 80’s and remember the film BIG? Well you can recreate that famous scene on their massive keyboard. There’s record and playback buttons as well so you can share your musical masterpieces.
There’s also a talking tree area. This is slightly away from the main play frames so it will naturally be a quieter area. On the walls are several buttons to push and then it plays various noises.
There’s a cafe on site which promises to be selling decent coffee and home made cakes. I’ll just have to go back to Stay and Play Aylesbury and review the cakes! Such a hard life. There’s lots of comfy seating although most of it is fairly separate from the play frames. There are only going to be a few chairs where you can see the frames. TBH whenever I’ve been to any soft play there have been plenty of parents who don’t care if there’s visibility of not so I imagine that’s not going to be a huge issue. There’s also toilets and baby change areas at the back. There’s lockers available and the shoe rack will be arriving later this week.
Our Stay and Play Aylesbury Review
I don’t give out many 5/5 but this place gets one! It’s so much better than I was expecting. It’s got brilliant features, it’s fun for the kids and easy for adults to get around. The lack of on-site parking is something to take into consideration, but it’s not the end of the world. The fact it’s right in the town centre means you can just pop in – or bribe the kids with a promise of a visit if they just stop messing around! For more information visit their website
We were very kindly invited to look around Stay and Play Aylesbury before it opened however they had no input into the review and all views are my own. They did not see the review prior to publication.
Weekdays – Under 1’s £3. 1-3 yrs £4.95. Ages 4+ £5.95. Adults FREE
Weekends – Under 1’s £3. 1-3 £5.95. Ages 4+ £6.95. Adults FREE
Parking / How to get there
Address – Hale Leys Shopping Centre, High St, Aylesbury HP20 1ST
No on-site parking. Use town centre car parks
On-site including baby change
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook