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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilites available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decisions!

Mini Monsters Softplay Fun

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Mini Monsters Soft Play

When this new soft play opened in Buckden Marina, with its huge white teeth and googly eyes I couldn’t wait to see what it was like. The age range sounded perfect for my toddler near 3, son 8 and daughter 10 years. Could it really suit all those ages? Will it be my dream destination with kids running wild and myself watching on with a decent cuppa?


Location

The place was really easy to find, just a quick ride through Buckden, past a couple of small fields and it’s on your left (that’s if you’re coming from the A1 rather than the Offords). Sign posted Mini Monsters Soft play, it is located in the grounds of the beautiful Buckden Marina. Once in the Marina, we turned right and followed the small road, passing boats, ducks and geese on our left, before finding the car park at the end. The car park is spacious and conveniently located next to the soft play. There is also a canal next to the carpark with narrow boats moored close by.


Entrance

The soft play building was vividly sign-posted, with a huge funky Mini Monster sign that made all the children (and me) very excited to be there. We felt like we’d been teased glimpses of the soft play on Facebook and now we were ready to dive straight in.

The entrance was located on the left side of the building and was very easy to find. There was a small step on entry (so easy with a buggy) and we were greeted with warm smiling faces that made us feel at home. Once inside, they let us through a secure gate (a great feature to stop the little rascals leaving). I was very glad the gate was there, so we could pause and look at the giant friendly, silly monster whose face filled the huge soft play area. This colourful and shiny monster is literally the whole soft play frontage and it looks friendly, inviting, silly and fun. 


Once the gate was open all my children ran screaming with excitement towards the Mini Monsters Soft play. Shoes and coats were cast off as they ran, they dived so fast into the soft play that a trail of their cast off were strewn across the floor….underneath tables and chairs. Luckily no one was injured and to my great relief all the children were visible thanks to the soft play’s brilliant design. (more about the soft play areas is found below the next section)


The Seating and Cafe

Seats and tables were plentiful (I didn't take many pictures of the tables and chairs area) and comfortable. The way they are set out allows for almost a straight run to the soft play from the entrance and from any seating positions, so no worries about crashing into tables or weaving in and out. It was really nice to see the menu on the table too so you could have a little think about what food you wanted before you got up. The food choices were perfect for little ones and mouth watering for adults. I loved the fact that the menus were also waterproof and spotlessly clean, as a day rarely goes by at home without a spilt drink. 

For babies and little ones there is an easily accessible microwave near the cafe, with space underneath, so you can prepare your bottles and bits, including napkins and bin handily nearby.

Refrigerated drinks and slushy drinks are there to cool hot kids but most importantly the coffee is good and they have cake (I know I’m obsessed). I could mention the crisps, the snacks, the very good hot drinks selection (very impressed with the food too) but ultimately it’s the decent coffee and the sneaky sweet treats that get me through those rough days after a rough night.

The Soft Play

The little ones 0-4 years area

For babies this area is filled with bright contrasting colours to stimulate their little brains including baby toys (brilliant!). 

Every age and development phase has been thought of so there’s plenty of space for crawling, there’s rocking toys, a small slide and there’s so much more!

I would say this is a really nice place to introduce soft play. It's very clean, it's very bright, it has little bouncy animals, lights, colours, a spiny thing and…. a ball pit! A nice big ball pit that can fit you and your baby/ies in plus your friend and their babies comfortably. Ball pits are rare now, to find one is special but to find a nice big one is amazing!

My daughter (10 years) was so excited by the ball pit she waited patiently until her 2 year old brother went in so she could “supervise” him (play with him).


My little toddler loved the space and spent most of his time in the 0-4 area on his “little slide” and loved all the activities there. He found the bouncing animals fun and the puzzle games. There are actually soft play obstacles, just perfect for their size! (well done designer!) The little tunnels also have cute little windows in the monster eyeballs. It’s all easily accessible and easy to watch your little one on their mini soft play journey.

This 0-4 soft play area is at the mouth of the monster, so is right at the front where you can stay close. 

There was so much for my little boy to do in this area he could happily play in there for the 2 hours and15 minutes slot. His older brother and sister coaxed him (eventually) to the other area but he happily retreated back to the 0-4 area (great for me too). The only difficulty was trying to get him to stay still for photos, he was just too busy having fun to smile for Mummy.

The 4-12 years area

After attempting to follow my older children into the soft play, I soon discovered that there is so much to do on all three levels that their progress is much slower and so they’re easier to catch. Upon entering the colourful monster maze of all things soft play, I was very pleased to see a  large climbing wall. The cityscape backdrop allowed my son to unleash his inner Spiderman, on a safe low level wall (so cool).

The passageways are filled with an assault course of obstacles you can choose to play on or if you’re an adult you can simply walk by or through. There is nothing difficult for an adult to get through to retrieve a child and you can see most of it (if not all) from the seating area. 

My kids' favourites were the swings and the mini roundabout both had the kids screaming with excitement and laughter. I loved watching them spin and slowly fall off, they laughed so much on this.

 There are two slides to try, a red twisting slide which exits at the front and a twin long, green slide with googly monster eyes at the rear. Both slides seem to have a sensible speed limit so you don’t have to worry about them flying off the end.

The soft play has no sudden or unpredictable drops which makes transitioning from the younger play area to the larger one easier and less stressful, without taking any excitement from the older kids (if you want to spin faster, rock faster you can but you also need the size to do that).There is a set of rollers in the soft play, and they are set perfectly, allowing kids to roll and parent to pass through if they wish. Thankfully there is a choice if you, as a parent, want to use them. 

Finally there is also another level of play to this, with so many obstacles and hiding places kids can play chase or a fantastic game of hide and seek. This really helped both my children to make friends within a short space of time.

Surprise Visitor!

Around half way through our session we saw bubbles floating across the room, the kids and I quickly raced out of the soft play to find more floating next to a giant purple monster! This goofy smiling monster, named Moshi, gestured us to come closer for bubbles and cuddles. We were grateful to the member of staff who kindly helped the monster and children, both staff and monster created such a fun and friendly atmosphere. I’ve never experienced such lovely spontaneous entertainment, it appealed to all the ages of my children (and me) and added another level of sparkle to our play.

Toilets

The toilets were as spotlessly clean as the rest of the place, all finished in sparkling bright white decor.


Children have been thought about in every area of this building and it is no different in the toilets. There are potty seats and foot stools found thoughtfully located nearby, to make your visit as easy as if you were in your own home.


The baby changing area, with a toilet, is large enough to accommodate a pushchair, with nappy sacks and baby wipes found nearby for those days when you’ve forgotten (we’ve all been there!).. 


Party area

The party area is situated above the cafe and is found at the top of a flight of stairs from the main area. Once up there you get a fantastic view of the whole soft play space through the huge gallery window. There is a lot of tables and chairs up there and it would be great for birthday parties. 


Staff

Both Helen and Stacey are lovely people with warm friend smiles. They are enthusiastic and keen to help anyone who enters the soft play (good for a chat with too!). You can tell they genuinely love working there making people smile.

Leaving

One of my children cried and the other two were heartbroken when it was time to leave. They had such a lovely time and they begged us to come back again the following week. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Peter Rabbit, Lily and other exciting characters often come for special holidays. 

As they trudged towards the barrier Helen popped up and asked the children which balloon they would like. Their faces all lit up again with a broad smile as we had dog and sword balloons.


Final Thoughts

The staff told me how hard Karly has worked to get all the details right in this soft play. You can really see every aspect of soft play has finally been catered for with such careful planning and attention to detail from a mum’s perspective. I feel Karly has really thought about the different ages and milestones that are not just celebratory but come with their own challenges, equipment needs and careful planning. She has also thought about parents and their need to easily see, access and interact with their children when required. A great place to relax, sit and enjoy children having a fantastic time (we so deserve this)!

Thankyou for a lovely experience, we will be visiting again very soon.

Louisa x


Almost Finally... The food selection looked so good I will be going back there for food so more will be added here soon.

https://www.mumsguideto.co.uk/st-neots/listing.php?listingid=378&subcatid=&name=Mini-Monster-Ltd-&function=keywordsearch&keywords=monster& 


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