Last weekend H and I went to Quest at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, near Dudley to put it to the test. Our party on the day consisted of three adults and three children: 2 six year old boys (H, of course, and his friend R) plus a three year old boy (D).
There are a number of different and exciting activities that you can take part in at Quest Merry Hill including:
- Yu Kids Adventure Soft Play
- Mini Ropes Area
- High Ropes Extreme
- Krazy Golf
- Nerf Combat Area
- Nerf Target Range
Our boys were carefully measured up at reception upon arrival. The maximum height is 122cm, which meant that out of our 2 six year olds only 1 could go into the soft play. H could go on everything. R could go on everything except soft play and D couldn’t go on the high ropes course (need to be over 1.1m in height). This could have been awkward as R wouldn’t be able to join his friend and his brother in soft play, but as it happened H wasn’t interested in the high ropes and R was, so we did soft play and high ropes as alternative activities (this wouldn’t be so easy if you didn’t have more than one adult). If you are bringing children of different ages, you need to consider whether they will want to go on different areas and how you are going to supervise and organise your visit.
The Yu Kids Island adventure was developed in Japan and apparently its the first soft play area of this type in the UK. It’s very bright and colourful and there are lots of unusual things to do. Activities include the Sky Jumping Light Slide, Spinning Palm Tree, Revolving Drum, Waterfall Tunnel, and Wave Rider. This area, where the children can play with balloons, was particularly fun as the balloons move around in the air being pushed through the room they are in.
The entry cost to the Yu Kids area includes use of the mini ropes, which are designed for under sevens. This was the perfect activity for H to have a go at as he was a bit nervous about the High Ropes course, but he got to try the same thing on a scaled down basis. I liked the fact that it looks like the adult course and uses the same equipment.
While H and D were in soft play, the mums were with R on the High Ropes Extreme course. Quest boasts that this is UK’s highest indoor rope course. It’s certainly very impressive, particularly as it is over your head as you walk in from the car park. You access each of the 4 levels by walking up a flight of stairs. All around the course you are have your harness on to protect you and it feels reassuringly secure. On each level there a number of different ways to traverse each side and across the diagonal of the space. You can choose from balance beams, rope bridges, swaying stepping-stones of wood, etc. The levels get more difficult as you get higher.
We took nearly an hour on the rope course and did the first three levels. You could do it faster if you were just adults or didn’t need to go for a toilet break halfway through like our intrepid 6-year-old. We found it useful to have 2 adults on with R as he’d never done anything like this. On the harder, higher levels in particular, he benefited from having someone at each end to help him on and off. That said, often there were 2 different challenges running side by side, so you could start the child off, get across on the other option and then be at the end to help if needs be.
H insisted (as always) that we try out Krazy Golf. Krazy Golf was a bit wild, as there were quite a lot of young children in there when we went in. Controlling more than one child on a crazy golf course is quite a challenge, unless you limit the number of golf clubs or strictly control their use. H is fascinated with crazy golf and cannot go past one without asking to have a go. He’s not that good at it though, but as a result of his interest, my skills have vastly improved over the last few years, as I’ve had to help with the more challenging holes. Quest Merry Hill make clever use of their space to fit in their 9 hole course and there are some interesting and challenging obstacles to overcome.
Last, but by no means least, we tried out the Nerf Combat Arena. This was the big draw as far as our boys were concerned. We were kitted out with safety glasses, special vest (for the darts to stick to) and our nerf guns. We were offered a couple of games to play: we could work as 2 teams and play capture the flag, or we could have a free for all game of hedgehog tag. We went for hedgehog tag, where your aim is to end up with less nerf darts sticking to your vest than anyone else. It was amazing fun and the boys loved it. Surprisingly physical, we were all tired and thirsty afterwards.
It was a warm sunny day for our visit and it got quite hot in both the Quest centre and the combat arena, which is outside in the car park. It wasn’t too busy though because it was a sunny day and I guess most people were out enjoying the weather. You pay separately for the different areas of the centre, so you can just pay for the areas that you want to use. The difficulty may be that a child sees other areas and wants to have a go, which could end up adding to the bill. So it’s worth setting expectations before you go. We didn’t have time to fit in the nerf gun target range, but I think that’s fairly self-explanatory. There are limited slots available so it’s worth either booking online in advance or reserving your slot as soon as you arrive. Booking online via the Quest Merry Hill website gets you a price discount too.
We very much enjoyed our visit to Quest Merry Hill and H certainly wants to go again. I think it’s good fun to do as a group and it would make a fun birthday treat.