Family Day Out Review: Cheeky Monkeys Soft Play Centre (Formerly Jungle Mania), Hemel Hempstead
Jungle Mania, Hemel Hempstead
Value For Money8.0/10
Variety Of Activities8.0/10
Things We Like
- Separate play areas for over / under 3's
- Varied play equipment in over 3 area
- Plenty of seating
- Clean, bright and spacious environment
Things We Dislike
- Town centre location makes visit a little trickier
- Food options are a little disappointing
*Please note: As of October 2018, the owners of Jungle Mania left the franchise and re-branded as Cheeky Monkeys*
What’s It All About?
Jungle Mania is a jungle-themed indoor adventure soft play area in Hemel Hempstead town centre. With a dedicated baby and toddler area, a large multi-tiered play frame for older children, a cafe and plenty of seating, it’s a great option if you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids for a few hours – or as a
bribe reward after they’ve been shopping with you.
What Do We Think?
Jungle Mania opened in July 2017 and is located at the newer end of the town centre (opposite TK Maxx). Entry is via a door with a door release button which is great from a safety perspective as busy roads are nearby. The actual soft play is on the second floor, so you can make your way up via the stairs or a small lift. Pushchairs can be taken upstairs, but there’s also an area to leave them downstairs.
On reaching the top, you find the reception desk with an entry gate and exit gate either side – these both have door bolts for safety. On walking in, you find the under 3’s baby and toddler section on the left, the over 3’s play frame further along on the left, then the cafe to the right. There are plenty of tables and chairs, both by the cafe and located around the different play areas.
The area is bright, spacious and clean. It’s also nicely decorated to appeal to the kids with an animal and jungle theme – unsurprisingly perhaps considering it’s called Jungle Mania! There’s also a couple of separate rooms for parties and baby classes, as well as toilets with baby changing facilities.
When it comes to the soft play areas, the under 3’s area is pretty well equipped. It features a ball pit, a slide, soft foam shapes and a couple of educational sensory puzzles on one of the walls. It works well for a crawling baby upwards, but for those who are smaller, there’s not really much from a sensory experience perspective, e.g. lights, mirrors etc.
Like most soft plays, it’s the over 3’s area which is the pièce de résistance. This is a square multi-tiered play frame which allows kids to climb, slide, jump, swing, crawl and scramble through all manner of play equipment. Again, this is jungle-themed – for instance, there are stepping stones with crocodiles below, a swinging ball with monkeys underneath or foam doors to push with cartoon animals.
It’s actually a really well equipped soft play for older children. Highlights for my daughter are the three different slides (the roller one is very cool!), the ball pit, the spider web climbing frame and long tunnel. It feels like they’ve packed as much in as possible, which is great for keeping the kids active and entertained.
In terms of layout, the only entry into and exit out of the over 3’s area is at the front – this is good for a parent as it means you can see when they leave the play area. Also, the over 3’s area isn’t jutted up against a wall, which again is a good thing as it allows you to walk the perimeter when trying to keep an eye on your children.
We’ve eaten a number of times at The Tree Tops cafe and it does the job – it’s your typical soft play cafe and soft play food. Personally, I’d have liked to have seen them push the boat out with healthy and tasty food options, but it’s mainly cheap and processed stuff like pizza, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, hot dogs, toasties and jacket potatoes. They also have a kid’s box meal, which is pretty good value – £3.95 for a sandwich, drink, yoghurt, crisps, fruit and chocolate bar.
All in all, Jungle Mania is a good quality soft play and it’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into it. Even though it’s now over six months old, there is very little wear and tear or signs of usage – the owners are obviously keeping on top of this, which bodes well for the future. Its town centre location is good if you’re in town, but it’s not as easy to visit as, say, DJ’s Play Park where you can park right outside. Still, Jungle Mania is well worth a visit if you’ve not been already.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Address: Riverside Shopping Centre, Moor End Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP1 1BT.
Opening Times: 7 days per week, 9.30am-6pm.
Price: Under 1 £1.50, 1-2 £4, 2-4 £5.50, 4+ £7.
Toilets: Yes. Male, Female and Disabled toilets. Baby change facilities available.
Cafe / Restaurant: Yes. The Tree Tops cafe serves drinks, snacks and food with large seating area.
Parking: No. Paid car parks nearby though, including Riverside, The Marlowes and Water Gardens.
Public Transport: Hemel Hempstead Train Station 1.0 miles away.
Duration: 1 to 3 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
Have you visited before? What do you and the kids think? Let us know in the comments!
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