The Children’s Play Village in Warwick is without doubt in my top three best days out places ever. My three year old loved it. My baby loved it. I loved it. They’ve absolutely 100% nailed it and you couldn’t not have a great time there…
What is it?
A wonderland, that’s what. When I was there I kept thinking, this is how it must feel to be in Disneyland.
It’s an indoor miniature village that has been crafted to absolute perfection. Toddler-sized everything – a tea shop, beauty salon, theatre, supermarket, fire station, medical centre, doctors, school, post office, building site, BBQ, campervan.
Each area has had so much thought, care, love, fun, put into to. They’ve got all the things you’d expect to see in real life, but made beautifully in wood in child-size plus fancy dress for each place. The tea shop alone is worth the drive. It is jam-packed full of beautiful little cakes and sandwiches, and had the play kitchen of my dreams.
My son’s favourite was the fire station (closely followed by the building site and the vets) which has the front of a little fire engine they can climb into and ‘drive’. Also a little telephone room for taking emergency calls. And firefighter costumes (coats, hats and fire extinguishers) as well as a soft toy fire to put out.
The areas are arranged as two sides of a street facing each other and in the middle is the ‘village green’ which is the baby area. Amazing on two levels: firstly you can see your baby from pretty much anywhere in the village and the area has a little wall around it so they are totally safe, and secondly, the toys in there are absolute top quality Montessori-style ones.
The fancy dress was a highlight for me as my son usually (always til this day) absolutely refuses it. We are always the ones at parties in plain clothes. But at this place he was running from area to area actually asking me if he could try out another fancy dress. Erm… YES YOU CAN!!!
Both my children were SO HAPPY and I felt like I got to spend real quality time with each of them, while the other one was completely entertained. I also noticed quite a few pregnant mums and thought what a good idea because you don’t need to move much while your child has a great time.
How does it work?
There are three 2.5 hour slots a day and you book your slot in advance. The slots are 9.30-12, 12.30-3 and 3.30-6. There aren’t any slots on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I believe as they close it for cleaning (THE PLACE IS IMMACULATE! Seriously I have never ever ever seen anywhere for kids so clean in my life. It sparkles.)
Babies & crawlers under 6 months are free, babies & crawlers over 6 months are £4 and all steady walkers, £8.95 per child. Adults are free (hurrah!).
They only let you in 10 minutes before your slot so there is no point arriving early. I did, by accident, annoyingly the first time I’ve been early for something in months, and you can only wait in a small reception area with no seating. You can see the village from there though and you are allowed to use the loo.
When they let you in, you go to the large café area, grab a table and take off your shoes ready to play. We ordered coffees at this point which was a mistake because when your session starts they call you all over for a briefing before play starts. Better to do that, play with your child a bit, then order your coffee so yours doesn’t go cold.
The briefing is lovely – it’s a little welcome by the Play Makers (the people who work in the village) and is all about using your imagination and having a great time. The kids were then let loose on the play village and didn’t look back.
The place was buzzing with all the imaginative play going on. It was lovely to see all the things they were getting up to, and how the kids were all drawn to different things.
Also all the adults (including me) saying to each other, words to the effect of, ‘WOW LOOK AT THIS! OOOHMYGOD THAT’S SO COOL!’
There’s a ‘story’ around the play from the Play Makers, which changes every month. When we went it was that there was a dance competition and every now and then throughout the session, there was an activity related to that that kids could join in with if they wanted, like a treasure hunt.
As the session went on and the items from each area got more and more mixed up (my son particularly enjoyed feeding the animals in the vet with the food from the supermarket), I was wondering how on earth they would get it ready for the next session in just half an hour…
Get the kids to help, that’s how! And as is always the way when they are not at home, the kids joined in merrily putting things back in their places with a tidy up song playing overhead.
The café is off to the side and you can order food and drinks at any point, up to just before the end of the session. The coffee was yum and my friend ordered food which was delicious with generous portions. Also the kids menu choices were spot on, as in, things they will eat but healthily done – e.g. cheesy beans on toast, the ‘little picnic basket’ with sandwiches, fruit, cake and drink.
The place is just under an hour from Oxford and a straightforward drive up the M40 (it’s about 5 minutes after you come off the M40). Their website has really clear directions on how to find them (note they advise that sat navs take you to the wrong place).
Will I be going back?
Yes yes yes! I’m waiting a few weeks as I want to keep it as a very special thing but yes it’s an incredible place and unlike anything else we do together. It’s a little world of heaven and delight. And the fact that it’s pristine and has an amazing café is just icing on the imaginative play cake. I highly recommend it for a day out – and they do birthday parties too.
I haven’t been paid to write this nor did I get a free ticket. I went with a friend for a day out and just had such a good time I wanted to share it with you!
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