Not exactly on my doorstep, but my brothers, we were invited to my nieces 3rd birthday party and what a day!
The 2-hour journey from Kent to Milton Keynes started off with a bit of Dart Charge drama, my account has been a little messed up lately so I couldn’t process my payment fully, but after a somewhat frustrated phone call it was resolved (I hope).
Once we arrived at my brother’s house we quickly made all the pit stop changes required: nappies, milk and a quick cup of tea. We dropped Louis off as my brother and sister in law were kind enough to let him come along, and off we go.
After navigating our way across what felt like 100 roundabouts, we made it to 360 Play. It’s quite a modern large warehouse with a good amount of free parking.
We entered and were directed to the party check in area on the right, it was at this point I realised we were about to enter probably one of the most energetic soft play experiences I have ever had. The room must have had nearly 100 people in with parents trying to keep their children nearby and the party check in staff desperately trying to communicate to their own groups.
When we found my nieces party table, Holly was asked for her menu choice for lunch and shown were to place her shoes and coat. Holly was also given a blue wristband which represented the group we were in. It was at this point everything changed from mildly busy to extremely chaotic.
One of the party managers was calling ‘all children with a wristband’ to line up ready to enter. So naturally our lot joined the queue and off they went. It appeared that there had been a miscommunication as our party manager had a bit of a panic that we weren’t allowed in, but too late, birthday girl was gone!
Taking everything in when you first walked through the doors was exciting and overwhelming for me let alone a two-and-a-half-year-old, it really was incredible. The options were brilliant, a colourful carousal in the left hand corner, a giant three story soft play jungle in the middle, bumper cars on the right, arts and crafts near the back and right at the back a great baby section. We were so spoilt on what to do.
With different interests all the children from the party divided at this point with the younger group deciding to start off on the carousel. Holly was beaming on this first ride and afterwards her eyes widened looking for any opportunity for fun. Next we ended up on the bumper cars. Holly has always been fascinated in the car watching either Ian or I driving and recently enjoys pretending to drive along as well, so to actually be behind the wheel was such an opportunity for her. I had my foot on the pedal and Holly was definitely in charge of the steering wheel, no question about. It was only once she started driving I realised how erratic she perceives driving to be. Steering from left to right in very fast movements we were one side of the track then the other, it was brilliant fun.
When the driving experience ended we decided to tackle the mammoth soft play area and this is where we found the crazy older children. Everywhere you turned you had to be careful not to knock someone but also look after your own two-year-old who was quickly becoming caught up in the unpredictable fast movements she was witnessing all around. She became so nippy; I’ve never seen anything like it from her!
The big slide in 360 Play is absolutely a slide made with parents in mind, quite a few of the parents began racing down with children on laps or on the side of us. It’s the fastest slide I’ve been down although sadly I can’t say I won any of the races.
My mum had Liam in the baby corner so I went over to see what fun they were having, I immediately had the biggest smile on my face when I realised he was having as good a time as Holly. For an 8 month old it can be hard to join in party fun but this right up his street. As Liam can now get around he was able to play nicely in the ball pit, roll around and also enjoyed the baby version of the carousel. We even got a little brave and gave him his first experience of going down the slide on his own!
My cousin then informed me there was a whole section upstairs that we had yet to explore, the role play areas! So off we trotted up the stairs Holly lit up once again. Making pizzas, doing the washing, becoming a vet and finally driving a fire engine; it was an area in its own right!
Then came the dreaded tannoy announcement…. ‘will all children wearing the blue wristband please come back to the party area?’ No, surely not, we’ve only just arrived. Well actually we had been having the best time for an hour and half at this point. To lure Holly back to the party room I at least had the promise of lunch so that helped.
The portion sizes of their meals were very generous, Holly had pizza, chips and squash and looked like she hit the jackpot when there was cake on the table as well. My niece then had a meet and greet from the 360 mascot and time to cut the cake. My sister in law made an amazing frozen inspired cake which was delicious.
Just when I though all the fun was over, next came the dancing. I’m not sure this part was really needed but I threw myself into it anyway as the party leader was desperately trying to encourage parents to join in, I knew my husband wasn’t likely to do this so time to take one for the team.
Big fish little fish cardboard box complete and now it really was the end. Party bags and balloons given out and then we were directed to the front door with names being checked off as we exited.
When we left you could tell everyone from all parties had experienced a great morning, it was one of the best parties we have been to in a long time. It may be something to do with the fact Holly is now getting older and more capable, or the fact that Ian and I could really enjoy it too, or even just the fact we were with family but either way I think I can say with certainty that when we visit Milton Keynes again we will be back!