Tuesday, 13 February 2018

360 Play in Basildon With A Toddler | Soft Play And More

I had heard good things about 360 Play, but for some reason I hadn't thought about going with my just turned 2 years old. I was invited to visit the Basildon centre so I headed along on a Tuesday morning to find out what it is like for a toddler. 360 Play in Basildon is based in the Festival Leisure Park which has a cinema, bowling, restaurants, bars and plenty of free parking. It took me a while to spot the 360 Play at the end of the row next to Bella Italia, in fact I saw the carousel on the first floor window before I spotted the 360 Play sign. I managed to park right outside and we wandered in to check it out. 

A view of the end of toddler soft play across to a pretend pizzeria, supermarket and post office

Once inside and through the barrier Little was immediately drawn to the large soft play area which towers upwards to the second floor. She ran past the dodgems, a football goal area and messy play charging straight for part of the main the soft play frame where there were lots of ball pool balls she could make float on jets of air. The huge play area is targeted at those over 4 and most of it would be too hard for Little at just 2, but lots of 3 years and 4 year olds were taking advantage of older children being at school and having a play with the more challenging area. 

A view of a 4 story soft play frame with dodgems in the foreground

We headed round the back of the frame, past the cafe and plenty of seating to head upstairs to the toddler soft play. There is a lift, but it requires a pin code to access it so remember to ask on the way in. 

Upstairs the first thing we saw was the top of the large play frame, I didn’t realise at the time that it was the same as the downstairs one as it looked pretty big on it's own. When I dragged Little out of it we walked round past the party area and the climbing wall to an area where she could finally be let loose.

My toddler floating ball pool balls on jets of air at 360 Play Basildon

The toddler soft play area is a good size with a slide, ball pool, biff bags and plenty of bits to climb on. It’s surrounded by the 360 Street which has lots of different shops and play settings where children can role play. Each establishment has decor and hard built in items to play with as well as smaller props. For instance the Supermarket has lots of baskets and plastic food, the Vets has soft animals and animal related paraphernalia , the Pizzeria (and pretty quickly the next door Post Office) has pretend pizzas and plastic plates. There is a building area at the end with different size lego style blocks for building and also a school house, a mechanics… apparently adding up to over 10,000 sq ft.

A green coloured vet shop with pictures on the walls, soft animals and some other play equipment at 360 Play Basildon

In the corner there is a little carousel, perfect for toddlers. It is fenced off and a member of staff came over every so often to let children on and make it go round. 

A toddler sitting a pink car on a carousel with the toddler soft play area in the background

I headed to 360 Play on a Tuesday morning to take part in their Fit Time class, advertised as a 30 minute fun keep fit class for children that adults can join in too. It was due to start at 10am in the party area, but as soon as Twirl (an oversized character) came out Little was too scared to join in and wasn’t happy until we returned to the comfort of the toddler soft play. I managed to persuade her to watch a little of the warm up before she was off.

A man in an orange shirt high fiving a character with a foam head

Once you have paid for entry most activities are free. The messy play option when we went was £1 and let children make a ham or cheese sandwich which I thought was a good idea. Everything else including the carousel ride and the Fit Time class was free. 

In peak periods you can get a limited food and drink menu upstairs, but we had to walk down the stairs to the main cafe. They sell hot and cold food and drink including all the normal food children like (crisps, chips, jacket potatoes, ice lollies). They also have a snack pack option where you can choose 5 items from a selection including sandwiches and drinks for £3.80. Children are asked to keep food and drink off the play equipment and there are plenty of tables to sit at to eat.

Building with LEGO style blocks at 360 Play in Basildon in front of a bright yellow wall and sitting at a table with yellow boxes of LEGO

As a parent of a toddler I was required (by her as much as the centre regulations) to be with her all the time. Handily the centre has lockers where you can put your bag and coat to avoid needing to carry it around. If you want to use a locker you will need to bring your own (or buy a) padlock.

We left 360 Play shortly before Midday and it had got steadily busier throughout the morning, but it was still pleasant with plenty of space for all the children and no need for them to queue for anything. I imagine it’s a very different experience in school holidays, weekends and after school when older and louder children are charging around, but that’s what you expect from a soft play.

I like once you are in the upstairs space there is lots for toddler to do. You are a little distance away from the large soft play frame and you can almost forget the rest of the place is there. 

A toddler sitting in a large wooden jeep in front of pretend petrol pumps

There is an outside play area with a climbing frame I could see through the window but access is weather dependent and it was closed when we visited so I was unable to assess what was suitable for younger children.

We had a great morning at 360 Play and I will definitely be back. It’s just under a 40 minute drive from Loughton, but I prefer it for my 2 year old than the other large soft plays we have slightly nearer us because there is more to do for younger children. The staff and other families all seemed really friendly and there was a nice atmosphere.

If you would like to visit we have kindly been given a Family Day Pass to giveaway. It can be used at Basildon or the other 360 Play centres (Farnborough, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Redditch and Stevenage). Ticket valid until 30/04/18 and excludes school holidays. Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and Giveaway closes Sunday 4th March. All my normal T&Cs are available in the widget. If you need any help with entering via Rafflecopter check out this helpful guide.




***Disclosure: We were invited along to 360 Play Basildon to try out the Fit Time class and write a review. They have also provided a Family Day Pass for the Giveaway***
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10 comments

  1. they love to pretend they are super heros lol x

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  2. My girls have got pirate costumes that they love. Yarrr!

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  3. love playing pirates and knights

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  4. Being a gymnastics coach and teaching people the right moves

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  5. My girls love playing schools and mom and baby equally but usually argue over who is going to be who lol.

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  6. My little girl loves pretending to be a teacher. She lines all her dolls up and does the register!

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  7. My nephew loves to act as superheroes - the Avengers in particular.

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