I was recently asked to review some of the leisure facilities in the Trafford Centre, and of course, I jumped at the chance!
Due to being pregnant, I was unable to test out Aerial Extreme or
LaserQuest, but I did manage to try the Odeon Newbies screening,
Legoland, Paradise Island Adventure Golf and Namco Station.
This is a once a week film showing aimed at those with babies. The idea
is that you can go to see the latest film releases, without worrying
about your baby crying or making noise, as everybody there is in the
same position. The volume isn’t quite as loud as usual, and the lights
are left slightly up, so you can feed and soothe your baby without
missing the film. You pay for adult tickets and babies gets free entry.
When you arrive at the cinema, your pushchair is taken from you and
stored in a secure area. You are given a raffle ticket to claim it back
at the end.
If your baby is in a car seat, you can take that into the cinema with you.
A word of advice: You won’t get offered any help to your seat, so
make sure you take a bottle of juice and snacks with you if you want
them, as it’s not easy to juggle the baby, your bag and your snacks
while trying to find your way to your seat.
When the film started, my son (who is 9 months old and loves tv) became
instantly transfixed on the screen. He happily watched for a good 70ish
minutes before he got a bit restless – at which point I gave him a drink
and he settled down again.
There were around 30ish parents and babies in the screening I
attended (You bought a Zoo), and while there was some crying, it didn’t
take away any of the enjoyment for me. I would definitely use this
service again, and recommend it to everyone. You can find out when your
local newbies screening is, and which film is being shown HERE
Just a little photo to show you the light levels – this is with the
flash off. There’s plenty of light to make up a bottle or get into
position to feed your baby.
Legoland Discovery Centre:
I attended Legoland Discovery with a group of family members, and
several children under 4 years of age. It is a good mix of activities to
keep kids of all ages entertained. (And parents too – if you like Lego,
4D Cinema or theme park style rides).
Kids under 3 get in for free. When you arrive, you are shown into the
Lego Factory, where Professor Brick-a-Brack tells you how Lego is made.
There are some opportunities for the kids to join in, and press some
buttons for him here. The 3 year olds loved this. At the end of the
Factory Tour, everyone is given a certificate. (This part takes around
Next, you move on to the Kingdom Quest ride. This is a slow moving
“shoot em” ride, which allows 5 people per car. Each of you has a gun
and you are strapped in behind a bar. You shoot the foes as your car
moves around the ride. At the end, you have the option to buy a souvenir
photo, and to see who got the highest score. The ride is dark, but it
was good fun. Even our 9 month old son loved it. The adults found this
ride particularly exciting as they could get a bit competitive! We were
allowed to leave our pushchair at the start of the ride, and collected
it at the end with no problems at all.
When you leave this ride, you enter “Mini Land” – here, you’ll find
many scale models of famous British attractions, made from Lego! There
are buttons which bring some of the models to life, too! The kids loved
pushing these. There are lots of models from Manchester too, so the kids
even recognised a few. I don’t want to give too much away, so am not
going to name the models you’ll see, but I was very impressed with this
Once you leave Mini Land, you are “free” to do what you want to in
the main area. Here you’ll find the 4D cinema, which shows a different
Lego film every hour. The film requires you to wear 3D glasses, and you
will be blown on, rained on and snowed on, in sync with the film. The
kids were amazed by this and loved it. My husband, however was left
feeling very sick by the 3D screen. (If you need glasses for watching TV
– make sure you take them)!
The Soft Play area was amazing too. The kids had an amazing time
playing on the climbing equipment. slides, rubber lego bricks and foam.
They spent a good 90 minutes in here, and loved every minute of it.
Children are required to take off their shoes, so make sure they have
matching socks on!!
The Master Model Builder class was great too – a Lego expert taught
the kids how to make a model Bee from some basic lego bricks. You don’t
get to keep the model you make, but you can always replicate it again at
home. These classes are run every hour.
The “Merlin’s Apprentice” ride is suitable for kids over 90cm (3
feet) tall, though kids under 120cm (4 feet) must be accompanied by an
adult. It spins round, and you have to pedal to “Mix the potion.” The
faster you pedal, the higher your car goes. This was another huge
success with the kids and adults alike. The Dads all got a bit
competitive trying to get to the maximum height the fastest, and the
kids loved it too.
Racers Build and test area is every Dad’s dream come true! It’s an
area just for building Lego cars, from many provided pieces. There is
also a test ramp for racing them down too. The
kids Dads spent ages in here trying to build the fastest car!
While they got busy here, and the kids played in the Soft Play area, I
took the baby to the Duplo Village. This area is just for the tots. It
contains loads of very large rubber “Duplo” style bricks which they
could play with. The bricks were a bit on the heavy side for my 9 month
old, but he had great fun knocking down the towers I built for him.
The Lego Friends area is a bit girly. It contains lots of pink
blocks, and a karaoke style station which will record your little star
singing their favourite song. The kids in our party were a bit young to
enjoy this, but I can imagine kids over 5 would love it! The Earthquake
Tables were another favourite with the Dads. Your mission is to build a
tower which won’t fall over when you turn on the “Quake” effect which
shakes the table. The Dads all had great fun watching their towers
survive the quake, while the kids loved watching them all tumble down.
The Cafe served qood quality food at usual attraction prices. They
offered a good range of sandwiches, paninis and children’s options. They
served hot and cold drinks, as well as fresh coffee. The cutlery is
plastic, though so it’s best to avoid anything you might need to cut up
for younger family members.
On the whole, I feel the Lego Discovery Centre is a good day out if
your kids are 3-11, but any older than this, and they’ll probably be
bored before the younger ones are ready to leave. They offer an annual
pass which allows you free entry for a year, and gets you 20% discount
on cafe purchases too. We live a few miles from the Trafford Centre and
will definitely be purchasing one of the family Annual passes once our
babies are old enough to enjoy the soft play area as it works out
amazing value if you plan on visiting often. The facilities are good,
although there is only 1 baby change station, so be prepared for a queue
there. I would highly recommend Legoland to anyone with kids aged 3-11,
it makes a great afternoon out – especially if you book online and get
50% off your tickets!
Paradise Island Adventure Golf:
Me and Hubby went to Paradise Island, with the baby. When we
arrived, we were issued with 2 balls, 2 clubs, a scorecard and a pencil.
As we had the pram with us, we decided to use the 18 hole disabled
course, rather than the full on “crazy” circuit, which was not pram or
wheelchair friendly. Your scorecard shows you the “par” for each hole,
and then you take turns to complete each hole. You cannot move onto the
next hole until all members of your party have completed the current
hole. The holes become more challenging as you proceed, and we had a
great time. The sound effects and scenery are great too.
One thing I want to point out though, is that while the disabled
course is pram friendly, there are still steps, uneven surfaces and
bumps to navigate, so wheelchair users might need a bit of assistance
here and there. (My sister is a wheelchair user, so I was very aware of
the steps and the issues they might cause her). It took us around 45
minutes to complete the circuit, and then at the end, there is a final
hole (where they collect your ball). If you manage to get a hole in one,
you win a free game! My Hubby only managed to do it! (Cue bells,
whistles and a fanfare alerting the entire venue of his success)!! He
looked somewhat bemused as a staff member gave him a free pass for our
next visit. We will definitely be back for another game soon! It is a
fab way to kill a rainy afternoon in the school holidays.
An amusement arcade in its traditional form! There is also a
bar, bowling alley, Dodgems and many many machines. We spent half an
hour in here on the machines, we spent a total of £5 and I won a Disney
Teddy on the grabbers (Cost: 30p) – I won it on my first go!
are many types of games. Including arcade driver simulators, penny
pushers, teddy grabbers, bingo, fruit machines and more. The family area
pays out prizes in tokens, not money – which you can then trade in for
prizes. We got 155 tokens from our £5, which bought us a quacking duck
soft toy. On the whole, it was a fun half hour, and the machines were
not difficult to win on. We didn’t try bowling as I’m pregnant so not
really up to it at the moment, but the lanes looked great, and the food
hall looked good too. The Dodgems looked like fun too, but again – we
were unable to try these. I think anyone with older children would enjoy
an afternoon in here. Bowling, followed by a couple of turns on the
machines would have been a perfect School Holiday day out for me when I
was 10+. We will be back when the kids are old enough to enjoy it.