Family Day Out Review: Big Space Children’s Indoor Play Centre, Harpenden
Big Space, Harpenden
Value For Money8.0/10
Variety Of Activities9.0/10
Things We Like
- Separate, gate-controlled area for Under 3's
- Plenty of different activities for kids, e.g. soft play, bouncy castle, football, ride-ons
- Separate play room with toys, books and dressing up
Things We Dislike
- More expensive than other soft plays
- Limited car parking
- Some areas could do with refurbishment
What’s It All About?
A large indoor play area in Harpenden, Big Space provides a space-themed place for children to play. Featuring a large soft play with slides, ride-on vehicles and a bouncy castle, a separate under 3’s soft play and a play room filled with toys, there’s plenty of fun to be had for kids of all ages.
What Do We Think?
Big Space is somewhere we’ve been aware of for a while as it appeared on The Fixer with Alex Polizzi a few years ago when she came in to help the (then) struggling business. With our only experience to date being what we’d seen on the TV, we decided to pay the indoor soft play venue a visit over the summer to try it out for ourselves.
First impressions weren’t great. Big Space is found at the end of an industrial estate within a large, metal-clad unit, so it’s hardly visually appealing. The car park isn’t particularly great either – it’s quite small considering the size of the place, but we did manage to grab the last spot. However, that didn’t stop other parents subsequently parking in places they shouldn’t, which made it difficult to leave when the time came. Something should be done about that.
On entry, your first stop is the reception desk. This gives an enticing view of the fun to be had within. We noticed button-operated entry and exit gates which is good to stop kids running out, however we did have to wait around for a few minutes as the reception didn’t have a staff member when we arrived.
The name of the place – Big Space – gives you a pretty big clue as to what you’ll find inside. Not only is it a huge indoor area with lots of different things all included in the price, but the decoration is loosely based around an out of this world theme. The layout includes a toddler area on the right next to reception, the main soft play area along the left wall and a large seated area with cafe opposite this. There’s also a small construction zone with sofas further back, toilets and a couple of rooms upstairs at the rear.
In the main area, there’s loads of things for the kids to explore. There’s the Space Walk, which is a long climbing wall for children to scramble across, as well as a separate Bouncy Castle. You’re then onto the long, two-tiered play frame which is split into different areas. This includes a mini-football pitch upstairs, with a small ball pool and ride-on race track below it – our daughter loved doing laps on the latter.
You then reach the next section of the play frame, which features all manner of soft play equipment, including cargo nets, dangling obstacles, see through floor panels and soft steps. There’s also a separate area with large beanbags and even a small ‘cinema room’ complete with a TV showing cartoons. All of this appeared to be in pretty good condition.
Finally, there’s a couple of large slides which are accessed via steps – there’s the Space Slide, which is a near vertical drop, as well as the Wavy Slide, which has four separate lanes and requires the child to sit in a sack as they bump down to the bottom. The wavy slide was a particular favourite for our daughter.
For younger kids, there’s a separate toddler area for children under 3. This is right by the entrance and can only be accessed by pressing a button to open a gate – a good safety feature for youngsters (and to stop older kids getting in!). Inside this bit, there’s Hubble’s House, which is a wooden structure with imagination based toys like play kitchens. Opposite is the soft play area, featuring baby bouncers, ride-on toys, a bouncy castle and a small area with balls and slides.
One of the unexpected finds at Big Space was a separate play room at the top of the stairs at the back of the venue. This had a variety of toys, including a doll’s house, trains, cars, fishing rods, an assortment of books and a huge pile of dress-up clothes. As soft play can sometimes get a bit loud and crazy, this room worked really well as a place to escape it all for a bit and play quietly with some toys. It’s also likely to extend your stay!
In terms of facilities, there’s male and female toilets, along with a separate baby change area. There’s also lockers available. There’s plenty of seats in the main section, both normal tables and chairs as well as sofas. This gives a good view for parents, however some of the sofas were in a poor condition and many of the tables were dirty with food and rubbish left on them. There’s a cafe that serves a good selection of food, snacks and drinks. We didn’t eat there, but some of the stuff looked nice – particularly the cakes.
All in all, we had a fun and positive experience at Big Space. There was plenty for our four-year old to do, plus the toddler area was good for our baby son. The separate play room was great and makes you wonder why more indoor soft play venues don’t invest in a toy room like this.
We do have a slight issue with pricing though as Big Space is definitely one of the more expensive indoor play areas we’ve been to. Firstly, babies under 12 months cost £3 (or are free with a paying sibling) – in our experience, under 1’s are usually free as standard. Secondly, it’s £9 for a 4-year old – that’s at least a quid (if not more like a few quid) pricier than other soft plays we frequent. There’s a lot to do, but I’m not sure why the premium cost is warranted.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Address: Unit 3 Southdown Industrial Estate, Southdown Road, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 1PW.
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm (closed Wednesday), Sun 10am-4pm.
Price: Under 1’s £3 (free with paying sibling), 1 years £6, 2 years £7, 3 years £8, 4 years £9, 5-12 years £10.
Toilets: Yes. Male and Female toilets, with separate baby change area.
Cafe / Restaurant: Yes. Cafe serving food, drinks and snacks with plenty of seating.
Parking: Yes. Free onsite parking, however it’s quite small and gets busy.
Public Transport: Harpenden Train Station 1 mile away.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
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