A first look at Dinky Street, Cheltenham

It’s the first day of half term here and the girls and I have had a really fun morning at Dinky Street!

Just a few miles down the road from our house Dinky Street opened it’s doors today for the first time. Based in Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, Dinky Street is a children’s role play centre designed for ages 0-8 years. There isn’t any on site parking but just across the road you can park in Tesco for up to two hours for free. Be aware that they do issue tickets if you overstay and the car park gets very busy during term time and school drop-off/pick-up.

The centre runs four play sessions, seven days a week and we had booked ourselves on to the first one of the day 9:30-11am. I paid £16.40 for four people which I feel is expensive considering I got free entry with a paying child. It’s £5.80 for the first child and siblings (1+yrs) are £5.30 which I felt was a little steep for Mabel particularly. At 20 months she really didn’t play all that much and mainly wandered around watching other children.

We were checked in by a friendly staff member and asked to remove our shoes so the play area is kept as clean and hygienic as possible – great to see. However, I hadn’t realised this ahead of time and I didn’t bring any socks for myself so I did have to wander around bare foot. It’s my own fault as it’s probably common sense to bring socks to an indoor play area! Whoops!

We left our coats in the cafe and then went off to explore. There are about seven or eight rooms/zones to play in including a café, a police station, construction zone, mini supermarket, hairdressers, fancy dress and doctors surgery. There’s also a nice baby area which is enclosed with lots of toys and cushions but I didn’t manage to get a good photo of it as there were people using it.

The play areas are all in individual rooms so if you have more than one child it can be tricky to keep an eye on both if they suddenly decide they want to play in different rooms. But, as it’s all enclosed, they can’t wander too far.

The girls worked their way around all the rooms in the time we had – they particularly enjoyed the doctors office and the supermarket. There are some really lovely details and I think the kids really appreciated it. For example there was a box of rubber gloves in the doctors room, real x-rays and handwritten menus on the table in the café.

Florence really got into the role-play side of things and made up little scenarios for her and Elsie to act out. They took turns being patients or customers and it was nice to see them playing in a more imaginative way as opposed to hurtling around a soft play area.

Mabel came and sat in the ‘real’ café with me whilst I had a lovely hot coffee. It was £2 for an Americano and there was plenty of fresh milk to help yourself to and complimentary squash and water for the kids. It was nice to see the complimentary drinks because we all sneak our own drinks into these places for the kids so why not just provide them?! Well done Dinky!

The cakes on the counter looked amazing and I was very nearly tempted by a lump of carrot cake. I did notice they sell ‘Dinky Muffins’ for just 30p which I thought was good for the kids – much better than buying their own huge slice which they’d undoubtedly leave half of!

There’s plenty of seating in the café based on the number of people in each session (I believe our session was full) and there are some fun activities for the kids to do whilst you’re in there. The kids all had fun signing their names on the giant chalk board and Mabel loved playing with the crocodile on the wall.

There’s one toilet with a stool and potty provided as well as a disabled toilet and baby change which all looked clean and tidy. The staff were always on hand to help and keep an eye in the rooms during the play sessions which was reassuring to see. As you can imagine, the rooms did get a little messy towards the end of the play session but that’s to be expected and just goes to show the kids had a fantastic time!

I loved Dinky Street and think it’s a great addition to Bishops Cleeve and Gloucestershire. Florence said it was ‘amazing’ so thats good enough for me. As I said, I thought the entrance fee was expensive for Mabel so we won’t be going regularly, but as a treat in the school holidays it’s great and I’d recommend everyone with little ones pop along for a play!

I’ll be sharing a few photos and clips of our morning on Instagram too!

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