Discover the best soft play centres in Essex for babies, toddlers and younger children. From small, open plan centres for little ones to the largest fun-packed play areas for big kid, we’ve found something to suit all families.
All details correct at time of publication.
Let’s Go Bonkers – Burnham
Opened in 2014, Let’s Go Bonkers has quickly become one of Essex’s top soft play centres.
The venue has two zones: one for children aged 4 to 12 years, and another fully enclosed play frame for birth – 3 years old, which has a baby safe ball pit, small slide, racing cars, alphabet frame, fun ladder and toddler-sized trampoline.
The freshly prepared menu has a mix of snacks, light bites and main meals in both adult and child portions. The kitchen can get very busy at lunchtimes though, so we’d advise keeping that in mind.
Repeat visits have found Bonkers to be very clean and well managed. The venues isn’t very large, but it’s perfect for younger children as there are slightly fewer big kids running around.
Kids from 0-11 months cost £1.75, and under 2s are £3.50.
Pickles Playhouse – Witham
Small and sweet, Pickles Playhouse in Witham is designed especially for children of 5 years and under.
Rather than being an afterthought, babies are very well catered for at this venue. Under 2’s section is stocked with a range of clean, exciting and educational toys that are rotated regularly. The smaller play space makes is easy to keep a constant eye on younger children while you enjoy a hot drink.Rather than being an afterthought, babies are very well catered for at this venue. Under 2’s section is stocked with a range of clean, exciting and educational toys that are rotated regularly. The smaller play space makes is easy to keep a constant eye on younger children while you enjoy a hot drink.
Children aged 2-5 years have a separate play structure with a ball pit, climbing frame and slide.
The menu here is burger-and-chips free. Instead offering a selection of sandwiches, wraps, paninis, jacket potatoes, salads, soups and omelettes, as well as home-made cakes.
In the summer, there is also a little court yard area outside so the children can get some fresh air.
Perfect for families with tiny tots,
Stay and Play Basildon – Laindon
Brilliant for children aged under 7 or 8 years, Stay and Play Basildon is a wonderful place to spend a couple of fun packed hours.
Children can be seen almost all the time no matter where you are sitting. The food and drinks are of good quality and value. There’s a separate selection of adult mains for grown-ups who fancy something substantial to eat.
The entry prices are average for the Essex area, but if you are the parent of multiples you can make a saving. For twins you only have to pay for one child. For triplets one child pays full price, the second pays half price and the third gets in for free.
The venue holds a themed disco on the last Friday of every month. There are also regular special play hours for SEN children and their siblings only. The new sensory room is fantastic for children with additional needs. It costs £3.50 per child for 50 minutes (maximum of 10 Children at any time). It’s also available for hire for £35 for 50 minutes.
The unique circus-tent like ceiling and friendly staff add to the great atmosphere that make this one of the best soft play centres in Essex. The venue is open 7 days a week. It’s free for under 1s who are with a paying sibling, or £1.50 for those without. Two adults can enter for free with every paying child, but additional adults are £1.50.
Creepy Crawlies – South Woodham Ferrers
Creepy Crawlies is a soft play centre which caters for children aged 6 months – 7 years. The centre is divided into three sections: one for babies, one for toddlers, and another for older children.
This venue is on a much smaller scale than other soft play centres. All of the play sections are fully visible from the seating area, making it ideal for younger children and their parents.
The friendly staff make a huge effort to keep the place clean and tidy.
Although it may be a bit tame for bigger kids who are used to larger centres, Creepy Crawlies is a great place to take little ones. The smaller size make it ideal for those who are just finding their feet and starting to explore. Children aged 6 – 11 months cost £1.50, 1-3 years £4.00, and over 3 years cost £4.50.
The MegaCentre – Rayleigh
As Christian charity based centre, MegaCentre Rayleigh provides a mix of family entertainment and support programmes for the community.
The soft play area is set on three levels and offers lots of different obstacles for children aged up to 11 years. The section for children aged under 4 is placed adjacent to the café so parents can keep a watchful eye on younger kids.
One of the biggest selling points for MegaPlay is its separate sensory play room for under 4’s. With an interactive floor, fibre optic lights, star projector, mirrors, and tactile objects, it offers a lovely experience for little ones. The room is also available for exclusive hire at £28 for up to 8 children (16 people in total). All prices to the sensory room include access to the rest of the MegaPlay centre.
As in most large soft play centres, MegaPlay may be a bit overwhelming for very small children during the busiest periods. Little ones will get more enjoyment out of a visit during school hours when the big kids are away. Under 1s cost £1 or go free when visiting with a paying sibling.
Mace Playce – Chelmsford
With a generously sized areas for babies, Mace Playce is another great place to visit with younger children.Known for its cleanliness and friendly staff, this soft play venue has a good balance of activities for different ages. Characters such as Peppa Pig and Iggle Piggle make regular visits to the centre, which is lovely for little fans. There are also regular special events, such as princess parties or MAD Science shows.
Babies will love the many age-appropriate toys that are scattered around their designated section.
For every paying child admitted on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3.30pm and 4.30pm a younger child gets in for free – handy to keep in mind if you’re looking to save a few pounds. Finding a parking space can be difficult during busy times, but that’s the only noticeable issue.
The centre also runs a special needs evening on the first Tuesday of every month between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
Non-walker cost £2.50 unless visiting with a full paying sibling.
Jungle Adventure – Colchester
Described my parents as clean, open planned and full of natural light, Jungle Adventure is one of the newer soft play centres in North Essex.
Activities and entertainment sessions are run throughout every week day, including arts and crafts, sensory play, storytelling, dancing and magic shows.
The large café area offers a range of healthier options that are freshly made on site. There are homemade baby purees and fruit and veg selections for younger children. You can also get heartier meals such as spaghetti or Quorn bolognese which promise hidden vegetables.
If you’re in the area and haven’t yet been, Jungle Adventure is well worth checking out, particularly if you have children aged around 3 – 8 years. Children up to 5 months are free, and those aged 6-11 months cost £2.50.
360 Play – Basildon
Packed with activities, 360 Play in Basildon is one of the biggest, newest and best soft play centres in Essex.
Unlike many venues, all of the facilities on site are included in the entrance free. Children can enjoy the main play frame designed for 4-12 year olds, toddler zone for under 4’s, supervised messy play area, climbing wall, unlimited rides on the dodgems and musical carousel, plus a full-sized pretend play street that includes a veterinary surgery, Twizzles Garage, and Luigis Pizza Parlour.
During the warmer months there is also an outdoor play area with a giant sandpit and play houses – perfect for relaxing in the sun while the kids have fun.
Adults have to pay a fee to enter this soft play centre (£3.50), children aged 1-3 cost £7.95, and those up to 12 cost £9.95. There is also a one-off registration fee per family (£5). This method of monitoring who is coming in or leaving the centre is intended to make it much safer for children. There is no time limit on how long families are allowed to stay though, so all the entrance fees are good value if you plan on staying a while.
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