There has been a bit of a buzz about Bluewater’s latest attraction, Dinotropolis, in the local mum forums
I was intrigued to find out more and excited to be asked to review.
Regular followers of mine will no doubt be aware that I am not a fan of soft play, or any kind of gathering of small (or large) humans truth be told. But sometimes you have to take one for the team. plus it was free so…
Let’s get one thing out of the way, the price of Dinotropolis
Dinotropolis is £12 for the “Explorer Pass”
£15 for the “Discovery Pass” (which includes the Dino Escape Challenge)
£20 for the Ranger Price which includes the above and a meal deal
These are for children over 1 for an hour and a half.
On top of that adults have to pay £5 each. You get a free drink for that but it is my understanding that most soft play centres don’t charge for adult entry. Seeing as I don’t frequent many of them I wouldn’t know…
However, Dinotropolis isn’t your run-of-the-mill soft play. It’s not in a warehouse that’s baking in the summer and freezing in the winter. You don’t risk getting your car clamped because there wasn’t enough parking but “it’s on a Sunday, no one will be using the unit next door anyway”. Yes I have been to enough to know that.
No, it’s at Bluewater.
OK. We’ve got that out of the way.
What can you expect from Dinotropolis?
I am reviewing from the point of view having arrived at 10am on a Sunday morning…
First of all, locate it. We thought we knew where it was, couldn’t see it from just outside the lift. Went downstairs, got to Gravity on the ground floor, looked up and it was there! Back up in the lift! It is situated along from the restaurants and was obscured by the sign for Jamie’s Italian. That cheeky chap!
Once inside there is a buggy park and you are given a cloakroom ticket for your pushchair. There are steps leading up or you can take the lift. You then come to the welcome desk where you book in or pay. Your child will be given a wristband for the Dino Escape (if you pay the extra £3)
The you are free to roam.
Dinotropolis is basically a large soft play but with a difference
There are several large animatronic dinosaurs. These are awesome, they move (obviously) and growl. They are also very well-loved by the children who touch them and hang off their tails or mouth. Not ideal especially when no one is telling them off.
There are three storeys of Dino Jungle (soft-ish play)
There is the toddler area which is for ages 1 to 3. Here is where Little L spent most of his time. This is more than adequate with a ball pit, soft blocks to play with a little slide and so on. The experience was a bit spoilt by older children using the area and parents letting them.
A similar issue was with the areas for 4 to 12, with parents taking small babies up. I’m not sure what a small baby would get out of it but at least they were supervised I guess.
This area was where Big L spent most of his time. The hard thing about having children 5 years apart is that they often cannot play in the same area. Big L is 7 now so is happy enough to do his own thing but I do feel a bit torn at times.
There are several impressive slides that he enjoyed. Big Ls favourite part was the cannons (I don’t have photos of these as I didn’t venture into this part myself)
On the ground floor there is Raptor Racing which are basically go carts. Big L had a go but the only go cart available was a bit small and the other kids weren’t giving theirs up any time soon!
Big L wasn’t up for Dino Escape – we peeked in the door but it was dark and he decided against it! It’s basically a room where you have to escape without waking the sleeping dinosaur by trying not to break the lasers beams.
The last play area was Discovery Cove
This is an area where both boys could play together. There is a large sandpit on floor level with dinosaur bones to uncover – like digging up a fossil. Then you can build your own volcano at the interactive sand table where dinosaurs roam. This was a bit high up for Little L and he was more interested in making a mess with the sand, but Big L appreciated it.
A fab addition is the arts and crafts corner where the Little Rangers can colour in a dinosaur, add their name and it will be shown on a big screen walking around.
Finally there is Fossil Cafe
We played it safe with pizza, or burger and chips. I’ll be honest I was a bit disappointed with the food, although we didn’t pay for it I wouldn’t have been happy paying full price for it.
What did we think if Dinotropolis?
Both kids loved it! I didn’t hate it…
I actually thought it was well thought out and quite enjoyable.
One of my concerns is that there were no staff apart from at the entrance or in cafe apart from one in Discovery Cove (who asked us to put Little L’s socks back on). I think it would benefit from one or two keeping an eye on things. I understand that parents should be doing that but, let’s be honest, they don’t always.
It would be helpful if someone could remind children to stick to their age-appropriate areas. To tell children not to abuse the dinosaurs. And to generally keep a watchful eye.
In conclusion we really enjoyed it. As I said previously it is not the sort of soft play you find in a warehouse on an industrial estate and you pay for that. I also think it would benefit from a discounted rate for toddlers who are quite restricted in what they can do.
Would I go back (and pay)? Actually, yes I would! It would have to be a treat but for a local(ish) decent soft play with easy parking and shopping afterwards – what’s not to love?
*we were invited to review free of charge. All words and photos are my own