If you're a parent in Perth, chances are you have heard of, or visited the Beach House Play Centre, which until recently was located in an enormous warehouse in Osborne Park. Operating for years as a not-for-profit run by the Christian City Church, it changed hands in 2013 and since then, it has seen some considerable changes.
An enclosed ball pit (though the kids keep managing to escape)
The most obvious is its relocation to new premises in Balcatta. With a new space, almost everything about the Beach House has changed. The equipment is newer, the room is brighter (but lower), and focus has shifted away from older to younger kids and the set-up means it is now easier to see your kids wherever they are playing – at least most of the time.
The old Beach House had separate rooms for the older kids, with a massive flying fox that stretched across a warehouse sized room. They also had arcade games and a couch area and were effectively cut off from the rest of the kids with pool-gate styled fencing.
In the new Beach House, the arcade games are now located in the main room, and together with ping pong, soccer and air hockey tables, are not separated from the rest of the action. Arcade games include Guitar Hero, basketball throwing games, racing games, Dance Xtreme and at least one shoot-em-up game.
Electric go-karts for older kids are in the centre of the space
Older kids (8 ) also have a fenced area in the middle of the room where they can race on electric powered go-karts. To be honest though, most of the kids I saw on the karts (two at a time, and always wearing a helmet) were a lot younger than eight.
The huge flying fox and inflatable slide combo takes up and entire room
The flying fox has been moved into a side room as part of an absolutely massive inflatable slide combo. Stretching for probably 50 metres or more, this has two tracks that kids can run, bounce or roll down. The third has a flying fox, where a staff member assists the kids to climb into a special fabric seat, which they can easily let themselves out of at the other end. It's a steep climb up to the top, but my two and a half year old managed it. Eventually.
I wouldn't recommend kids under three on this equipment though, as she cleverly managed to time her escape onto the third track through a gap in the inflatable wall just as another child came down on the flying fox. Luckily both kids were fine.
Smaller kids are well taken care off, with a number of different spaces and play areas for littlies aged 0-3 years including a fenced area full of walkers, trucks, cubby houses, baby swings, music tables, rockers and so much more. They have an area with large soft blocks for stacking and building, a challenging balancing frame and (in a separate part of the building) an enclosed ball pit room.
One thing missing from the new Beach House are the massive, two-storey climbing frames, which for parents is a mixed blessing. Kids absolutely loved it but personally, it was a daunting task to rescue your small child when they got stuck up there.
The new climbing frames are smaller than the old ones
There are plenty of new fun things that the kids will love. In a separate room behind the flying fox, kids now have a huge sandpit and play area. Yes, a massive sandpit inside the building, complete with cubby house and swing set. Surprisingly, it wasn't that popular when we visited.
If your kids loves those shopping centre ride-ons, then they will LOVE the new Beach House
There is also a collection of pretty awesome (and noisy) ride on animals, much like you'd see in the shopping centre. But the good thing about these ones if you don't have to cough up $2 to watch your kids bounce up and down for a minute. While 95% of the toys and games are free within the Beach House (including all the arcade games, show rides and ride on animals) there are still a couple of pay-per-go skill testers where for $2 (10 turns) kids can try and win a small soft toy.
Three bouncy castles including this one with a slide
There are three bouncy castles, each slightly different, and a mechanical surfboard which didn't seem to be operating when we were there. Two side-show rides are constantly operating (always under the supervision of a staff member): a little train ride, and a higher aeroplane ride.
The website also promised putting golf, but I can't recall ever seeing it.
Add to all of this two massive trampolines and a racing track full of various scooters, bikes and karts, and you have a very impressive display of kid-fun.
But what about adults?
Adult entry is still free, which has to be a massive draw card. And while outside food and drink is not meant to be brought in (water bottles seem to be ok), the café is reasonably priced and along with the teeth-shattering display of lollies and icecreams, they also offer small meals such as vegemite, cheese or ham sandwiches ($2.50), hot dogs ($4), mini quiche or party pies ($2.50) and chicken nuggets and chips ($6). They also offer a variety of packs which include a main dish, a drink and a snack which all cost $7.50. Some of the packs even include an apple.
There are plenty of options for adults, some healthy, most of it not so much, and prices are reasonable although the food is very simple.
There are plenty of café style tables and chairs in a large section near the café. Since it is located centrally, it does provide a relatively good view of a decent section of the Beach House (not the sand pit, flying fox or arcade games). There are also two big screen TVs in the café area showing cartoons on DVD.
There are now four party rooms which can fit between 10 and 50 kids. They are a lot cleaner and brighter than the old Beach House. Themes include space, under water, disco and treasure island and each room has a cool 'throne' for the birthday child.
Parking is plentiful and there are three separate toilets – one for girls, one for boys and a third one for adults/everyone.
Prices have remained the same: $3 for 0-11 months, $9.50 for 1-5 year olds and $10.50 for 6-14 year olds. Credit cards are charged a surcharge and all kids must wear socks at all times (you can buy them there for $3 if you forget). Opening times are 9am-6pm every day except public holidays which is 10am-5pm. During school term, you can visit between 4-6pm (ie after school) for the reduced price of $5 per child.
Over all, the changes to the Beach House are very positive, and although it was very busy on the Saturday afternoon when we visited (around 2pm), there was no queuing on any of the equipment, and sufficient staff supervision and assistance. By 4pm it was almost empty, and a few dozen kids had free rein of the place.