Love them (and personally I do love them) or hate them, soft plays are back! We were very kindly invited along to DJ’s Play Park in Hemel Hempstead to do a review of their soft play and role-playing village today. They had no input in the content of the review and did not see it prior to publication. There are two other soft play centres in the group – one in Berkhamstead and one in St Albans.
There are three play frames. One for 0-2’s, one for under 4’s and one for over 4’s. There’s also a small go-kart track, a sports court and a role-play village. This review of DJ’s Play Park has been written post covid-19 so there are plenty of safety measures in place.
Under 2’s area
Now that Smallest Child is 3 we didn’t go in here but it looked good. It’s quite separate from the other play frames which means there’s no older kids getting in on the action. Normally there are lots of different soft play shapes in here but they’re currently reducing the numbers due to covid.
Under 4’s area
The under 4’s area at DJ’s Play Park is behind and above the go-kart track. It has it’s own mini road and Little Tikes cars track, a giant foam hamburger, slides, tunnels and lots of other equipment to clamber over. It also has two horizontal rollers. There is no way an adult can go through these in a graceful or elegant way. You just have to fling yourself through and hope for the best!
The main play frame at DJ’s Play Park
The main play frame at DJ’s Play Park is a decent size and it’s where Smallest Child spent most of her time (we were there mid-week). It’s a full height frame so adults can walk around without getting a crick in the neck. There’s a bumpy slide, spiral slide and one which is so fast it’s practically a drop slide! Another Mum went down this slide and she basically flew right off the end so I decided to give that one a miss. It’s still a bit too soon after “The Canon” at Coral Reef Waterworld! Apparently my jeans today were the least slide-y ones I own! When I went down the bumpy slide Smallest Child shot down it quite happily, whilst I had to do a weird shuffle/scoot combo to get down to the bottom. Honestly, it’s been a while since I (like everyone else) has been to a soft play and clearly I’m out of practice!
There’s lots of other cool features in the main play frame. You’ll find balance beams, rotation doors, a climbing wall with teddy bears as hand-holds, a rope climb, bridges plus all the usual things to climb on and under. In normal times there’s also a ball shower (although the ball-pit balls had been removed because of covid).
It’s a nice easy frame for both adults and kids to get around. The only bit I didn’t like is the sections where they have clear plastic perspex flooring. I always feel like I’m going to crash through it, breaking several bones and humiliating myself in the process. This has never actually happened, but it still puts me off!
Next to the main playframe there is a small sports court for football and basketball.
The role playing village
Something that makes DJ’s Play Park a bit different from a lot of local soft play centres in and around Buckinghamshire is the role playing village. There’s a massive fire engine, road, fire station, cafe, supermarket, school and vets. They don’t have a roof so you can stand up in them when you inevitably get dragged in to play. Each shop in the village has lots of themed props and there’s a ball pit in here too. As I mentioned, this review of DJ’s Play Park has been written whilst some covid restrictions are still in place. Sadly that means almost all of those props have been removed. That absolutely did not stop any of the kids from having fun – they just carried on regardless.
Go Kart track
Underneath the under 4’s frame there is a small go kart track. It’s £1 per car for 2 minutes. Children have to be at least 3 to ride on the go karts, and under 4’s need an adult driving them. Which is a good thing because it turns out Smallest Child is RUBBISH at driving and kept trying to steer us into the side! Because of covid restrictions it’s only one family and bubble per time but we didn’t have to wait very long for our turn.
Covid safe measures
As I’ve mentioned, this review of DJ’s Play Park took place post covid so some social distancing measures were in place. You have to wear a face-mask (unless exempt) throughout the centre except when you’re eating. This is one of the only places I’ve been to where they actually put a reminder out over the tannoy about masks. The seating is all space appropriate and there is sanitiser everywhere. It’s cards only in the cafe and you have to pre-book. Sessions are currently 90 minutes and the whole centre is closed in-between for cleaning,
The only real difference the kids would notice is that the props in the play village have been removed, as have the ball pit balls. It honestly didn’t stop them having fun though.
Throughout the session I saw various members of staff cleaning down the high touch areas, and more generally. It was quite dusty in some corners of the play village, but the areas where the children are actually playing were very clean. The play-frame itself was clean.
Our DJ’s Play Park review
We really enjoyed our visit to DJ’s Play Park and I’d be intrigued to try out the other soft play centres in the group. Having the role playing village is a really nice touch and Smallest Child really liked being able to swap between that and the play-frame. There was plenty of space for everyone, and it was light and airy without being cold. We had a good time and the 90 minutes passed really quickly. I was impressed with the covid measures they’ve put in place.
Children’s prices range from £4 to £10 depending on the age of the child. Adults are £1.50 each. For the latest prices and to book click here.
Parking / How to get there
There is plenty of free parking on-site. I couldn’t see any time limits.
Address – Unit 10, Jarman Square, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. HP2 4JS
There is a cafe on-site. Food seemed to be delivered quite quickly. A hot children’s meal is £4.25.
There are toilets and baby change available.
Want to make the play last longer? Gadebridge Park is just around the corner and has free parking. Click here for the full review.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out 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