Thursday, 13 December 2018

Review of Dinotropolis at Bluewater, Kent

We were recently invited to review Dinotropolis, the new dinosaur themed Soft Play in Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent (just over the bridge from Essex). It is advertised as “the Dinosaur Adventure Park that promises to be the best day out in Kent”. I visited with my toddler and 7 year old on a Saturday morning a few weeks after it opened, so what did we think of it?

The entrance to Dinotropolis at Bluewater Shopping Centre


Visiting Dinotropolis at Bluewater in Kent


The first thing to know about Dinotropolis is the price. I don’t always mention price in my reviews, but at a starting price of £12.00 for 90 minutes it’s something to keep in mind and I’ve heard it mentioned a lot when people have been discussing Dinotropolis. Compared to some of the other large soft plays near me like 360 Play in Basildon (£10.50 for 4-12 year olds at peak times plus £5 one off registration fee) or the Soft Play at Lakeside shopping centre (£8.50 4-13 years at peak times) it is more expensive. But is it worth it?

Both my 2 year old and my 7 year old had a great time on our visit. We were there for just over 90 minutes and we left because we hungry and the girls were happy to go. There is a café onsite, but with Little and I being dairy free it was easier for us to go somewhere. Would we have wanted to stay longer if we weren’t hungry? Maybe, but after running around for an hour and a half they were pretty exhausted. 

There was a good atmosphere at Dinotropolis when we visited and it didn’t feel as overwhelming or scary as some soft plays. We also didn’t experience any problems with other children being rough or rude.

One corner of the dinosaur themed soft play at Dinotropolis

What is Dinotropolis like?


Dinotropolis is more than just a soft play. Yes the soft play is great fun: the baby and toddler area has a great ball pool, a little slide, large jigsaw pieces and bits to climb on and the larger soft play area for 4 years upwards has a wide variety of slides, climbing bits, mega balls and everything you would expect from a modern soft play. But there is more…

Exploring the toddler soft play area at Dinotropolis

Pedal go carts in the Raptor Run: underneath the main soft play is a loop children can pedal go karts around. They have a few different sizes so both my girls were happily zooming around. It’s a shame my youngest can’t actually steer! 

Pedalling around the go kart track called the Raptor Run

Dino Escape Challenge: If you get the more expensive Discovery Pass tickets children can go into a special room to creep through a smoky dimly lit area filled with laser beams they need to get passed without waking the dinosaur. My 7 year old found this challenge a little scary so whether this is worth doing will depend on if your child is comfortable in the dark or not. 

Moving Dinosaurs: There are 3 animatronic dinosaurs around the outside of the soft play as well as one in the ground floor entry area and a couple of small ones inside the go karting area. I may have missed some. They are entertaining and obviously good for a photo op!

Me and a dinosaur having a selfie

Discovery Cove: One of my favourite aspects of Dinotropolis is the complementary Discovery Cove area. Soft plays are generally about running around and getting hot and sweaty, but most children need a little time to chill out and Dinotropolis has the perfect place to do this. Activities include: uncovering the dinosaur fossils in a sand pit, building 2 large 3D dinosaur skeletons, playing in the super cool sand box to create volcanos and lakes for projected dinosaurs to roam round or colouring in dinosaurs before scanning them so they walk around a couple of big screens. I have played on these last 2 before several times at Colchester Zoo and I love them. 

Uncovering a dinosaur skeleton in Dinotropolis Discovery Cover

A sand pit that shows mountains and lakes and dinosaurs

Children focused on colouring in their dinosaurs

Scanning the dinosaurs on to screen at Dinotropolis

Comparison of the coloured in dinosaur and the moving one on screen


Fossil Café:  The café has a range of hot and cold food and drink. I think the range of drinks could be improved to be more child friendly and I don’t know what the quality of food was like as we didn’t buy any. There are a large range of restaurants in Bluewater so it’s easy to eat before or after if the café doesn’t appeal, but it is helpful to have the option to buy food and drink in Dinotropolis.

A page of the menu at Dinotropilis showing the hot food

Staffing: There was a staff member stationed in Discovery Cove, on the Raptor Run and at the entrance to the Dino Escape Challenge which is more than in a normal soft play and might contribute to the cost. They helped ensure children were happy and (in the case of Discovery Cove) that the are remained fairly tidy.

What could be improved about Dinotropolis?


It would definitely benefit from more seating for adults and storage space for belongings. There are chairs around the edge of the soft play, but it was busy enough by 11ish on a Saturday that everyone of these seats were taken, primarily by people who had put their coats and bags on them before going off elsewhere. Being 8 months pregnant I decided I would move some belongings to underneath a chair as I was desperate to sit down. I’m not sure how many more chairs they could fit in if they wanted to add to it, but be warned you aren’t guaranteed to sit and enjoy a coffee while your child/ children run about. There also wasn’t a lot of space to put coats and bags other than on the chairs. There is a large rack for shoes, but at peak times there isn’t really space to leave anything else there. If you bring a pushchair you can leave it in a manned area at the entrance so leaving coats on your pushchair could be an option. 

A rack for shoes at Dinotropolis soft play review


The 90 minute session time feels quite restrictive, even though it was all the time we needed. That being said when we visited there was no monitoring of how long people had been there, I don’t know if that would differ at busier times. Our session started at 10.30am and it got busier the longer we stayed, but other than the lack of seats and queueing for go-karts the busyness wasn’t a problem.

Dinotropolis had only been open a few weeks when we visited and it will be interesting to see how it ages. A few pieces of the dinosaur jigsaws had felt tip pen on them (a risk when they are positioned right next to the colouring area) and I saw one boy repeatedly thumping the T-rex while his mother chatted to her friend one metre away. As 3 of the dinosaurs aren’t fenced off at all I worry about them becoming extinct.

How To Find Dinotropolis


The entry to Dinotropolis is in the Bluewater Shopping Centre on the first floor near the cinema. Its  off Thames Walk (which runs between House of Fraser and M&S) and is down the walkway opposite H&M. As it is new there was limited signage and we found it difficult to find, but if you choose the parking nearest the cinema and then follow the directions to it you won’t have a problem. As soon as you turn down the walkway you can see the dinosaurs through the glass wall.

My daughters really enjoyed their review visit and have already asked if they can go again.

***Disclosure: we were invited to review Dinostropolis***

If your children are interested in Dinosaurs you might be interested in reading my review of World of Dinosaurs at Paradise Wildlife Park Hertfordshire.

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