During the Easter holidays we were invited to spend a day at Bowlplex in Dudley to review it. Our party was H and his friend R (both 6), myself and R’s mother.
Bowlplex, as the name suggests, is primarily a ten pin bowling centre. As you enter the centre you pass through the amusement arcade on the way to the bowling alleys. We didn’t get a chance to try out the amusement arcade properly, but the boys are still content to press some buttons and they still seem to think they are playing when they aren’t.
To start the day, we had a game of bowling. This was good fun. To help children play, you can use gutter guards, lighter balls and bowling ramps. The gutter guards stop the balls from rolling into the gutter and act like the cushions on a snooker table. R could carry the lighter balls, but H is smaller and couldn’t manage them easily. Both boys needed to use the bowling ramps. This is a metal frame, that you position where you want it, and you send the ball down it rather than rolling it. We played 10 rounds or frames. Within each round the player has the opportunity to roll the ball twice to knock down the pins. This was just about the right length of time for the boys. If it had been any longer I think they would have started to get bored.
Next up was a visit to the Activity Zone. This is a soft play area within the Bowlplex Centre which was created in iKidz. The boys really enjoyed the iKidz area. The pods were the thing that the boys enjoyed most, whether it was climbing up to them to wave at the adults, or chilling out in one of the ones on the ground. One of the pods had a child friendly computer game featuring Fireman Sam that H enjoyed playing for a bit.
Aside from the usual soft play activities, there were some nice extra touches that you don’t get in every centre. There were a number of small ride-on toys available for little ones and there were some gentle ramps to ride them up and down. There was the obligatory ball pit, but there were a couple of activities you could do with the balls including feeding them into a wall mounted elephant for them to be thrown out again. Other bonuses from an adult perspective was good quality drinks close at hand from Costa Coffee and comfy seats to sit on. So often in soft play places, you’re expected to sit on fairly hard, Ikea chairs, so it’s nice to encounter a bit of comfort for a change.
We nipped out for a spot of lunch and there is plenty of choice within a few hundred metres. We spotted Chiquitos, Pizza Hut, Frankie and Benny’s and Macdonalds within easy range. You can also eat inside Bowlplex with a range of burgers and similar food available from their grill.
After lunch we popped back into the Bowlplex complex because the boys were keen to play some more in the Activity Centre. When we got there H discovered a group of his friends were there too. I was surprised to see them as they live a few miles away and would pass or almost pass a few other soft play venues on the way to Bowlplex. It seems that they are regular visitors and enjoy visiting regularly. They pointed out, that on the back of the receipt currently, there is a half price for your next visit offer and there’s also a coupon on the Bowlplex Dudley site.
Also, on site are a bar and pool tables. So there’s a more adult orientated area too. I like the fact that there are lots of things to do in one place and that there is something there to suit every age group. Note though that you will have to pay for things separately or you can opt for a combination ticket that includes bowling and soft play if you prefer.
We enjoyed our trip to Bowlplex and H has talked about it quite a lot since, so I think we’ll be going back in the future.