As the mother of a fairly headstrong little boy who never really liked to take directions (unless it’s something he was going to do anyway), I have kind of got used to him doing his own thing at baby and toddler classes/groups. Many a time I’ve been singing along with the nursery rhymes on my own while he hides behind curtains or runs round the room shouting loudly. Whilst I know no other mums would blink an eye at a disruptive toddler (is there in fact any other kind!), once I had my second child, it sometime felt like a lot of hassle to get to a group knowing there was only a 50:50 chance the Mini Mumbler would participate.
Imagineville is very different, however. Whilst it runs in 90 minute sessions, like you might expect from a toddler group, there is no structured activity. Instead, this role play centre has numerous different areas, complete with lots of toys and props to let your little one’s imagination lead the way.
As soon as we arrived, Mini Mumbler was off exploring all the different zones, leaving me to sit down and relax whilst he shouted back to me about what he found. “Look! A trolley! I’m shopping”. His younger brother was also quick to get stuck in, heading straight for the tool bench where he proceeded to pull everything out and bang the toys together. Because this isn’t a huge space, I was quite happy to let him crawl around, without fear of him getting his hands trampled by bigger children. For any others with non-walkers, there are plenty of toys here nearly at ground level, so even those babies that can’t get themselves up and toddling around can still find plenty to play with.
Imagineville has 7 different play zones spread over two rooms. Each zone is arranged so that the children aren’t playing on top of one another. In the main room is a café, with a kitchen for making food and table and chairs for eating; a supermarket, complete with trolleys to load up with toy food, and a builders’ yard, with tool bench, bricks and diggers, plus a small picnic area and a selection of ride-on toys. There are plenty of seats along the side of the room for parents to sit on whilst the kids get stuck in.
In the smaller room is a hairdressers, doctors/vets, a princess tent and a variety of dressing up clothes. Also a particular highlight are the two large, comfortable sofas.
One great thing for us parents is that the layout of the venue is such that, even though there are two separate play rooms, you can sit in one and still see your children in the other – great if you’ve got two or more children that decide to go off in different directions.
The facilities are exceptional here. Kate is really friendly and welcoming, the building is secure, with the front door kept locked, it’s lovely and clean, snacks and drinks are available to purchase for adults and children alike, there’s comfortable seating (I know I keep coming back to that but how rare is it to get to sit on a sofa instead of being stuck kneeling on a cold, hard floor!), and even the toilets have been really well thought out, with both potties and child toilet seats available – great for a newly potty trained child like mine who can sometimes still find the prospect of using the “big toilet” rather daunting.
We found 90 minutes to be the perfect amount of time for both boys to explore all the different play areas and burn off some steam without getting too tired. And with three different sessions available, it’s easy to work around your child’s routine – no skipping naps or delaying mealtimes, just pick a slot that works for you!
I’d definitely recommend a visit here as a change from other baby and toddler activities, and we’ll certainly be returning again soon. With all the different play zones there’s enough to keep the children occupied time after time – the only limit is their imagination!
You can find out more about Imagineville on their website, or follow on Facebook.