Is Mattel Play! in Liverpool as perfect for young children as it sounds – we review it.
Mattel Play! has closed since this review was written. It closed in March 2020 along with other businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic but the decision was made not to reopen, full story here.
What is it?
An indoor children’s adventure play centre split into three themed areas, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam.
Where is it?
It is located at the iconic Albert Dock in Liverpool near to where This Morning used to be filmed.
What did we think?
It was done very well, it is not huge but all of a high standard and staff work hard to keep it tidy and clean and fresh so that nobody finds a section in a mess. Fans of Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine will be thrilled to visit. Our two children love Fireman Sam so this final section was their favourite.
Thomas & Friends
Start at Knapford Station and meet characters including Thomas, Rosie and Percy. My children’s favourite was Harold the Helicopter’s ball pool, where they could climb aboard Harold on a sea of balls. And my daughter enjoyed a ride on a miniature locomotive.
Bob the Builder
The children donned safety gear from Bob’s mobile office, before getting to work in this section of Mattel Play! The four of us spent quite a lot of time building a wall of bricks. There is also a creative part where you can do light box sketching.
This is the smallest section but has lots to entertain children who like Fireman Sam. They can climb aboard Jupiter, go to sea on Titan and Juno and put out pretend fires. There is even a Dilys’ grocery store.
There are regular appearances by Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the Fat Controller.
Interactive photo experience
Next to the shop is a camera with a screen that you can operate. You pose for a photograph and are then shown pictures of yourself amid four different backdrops related to the characters at Mattel Play! You can buy the pictures if you like them. There was no queue when we were there so my daughter, who loved this, posed a few times to see the results!
Some seven-year-olds might be too old for this, but ours still likes Fireman Sam so got quite a lot out of it. And our four-year-old daughter loved it, especially meeting the characters.
Our top tips
*Those who like it quieter should visit at 9.20am when it opens.
*Book in advance to guarantee entry.
*It normally operates timed entry slots.
*It is an autism-friendly venue and offers special autism sessions on the last Wednesday of each month between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
Mattel Play! information
Food: There is a cafe, picnics are not allowed.
Opening hours: 9.20am until the last pre-booked admission, which varies each day.
Cost: £12 per child (aged one to 12), £3 per accompanying adult. Babies (0-12 months) £6 when accompanied by a paying adult and free when with a paying child and paying adult.
Best for: Younger children, aged two to six.
Time needed: Two hours
Access and restrictions: There is full access for disabled visitors.
Address: If you’re using sat nav, use the postcode L3 4AA. It has not got its own car park, use one of the nearby car parks.