A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published May 20th 2012
I had heard of a new kids' attraction in Geelong and after Googling 'The Imaginarium Project' I was still fairly clueless as to what it entailed. The official website doesn't give a huge amount of information, although other mums' blogs seemed to be a little more enlightening. But what better way to suss it out than to pack up the hubby and the almost-three-year-old and head up there to check it out for ourselves?
An hour and a half's drive landed us at The Imaginarium Project, a new indoor play space in South Geelong. I hesitate to call it a play centre because it's quite different from your usual soft play structures, giant slides and ball pits. It is housed in a large warehouse style building and then subdivided into different rooms. The theme of the main room is Alice in Wonderland, whilst other rooms are based around Pirates, The Wild West, Halloween and a Toddler Area which is gated. In each room there are props, decorations, games, role play areas and toys all selected to go with the theme of the room.
The place has a real wow factor when you first walk in. It's beautifully set up with illuminated ceiling decorations and wall murals which are low enough to be appreciated by the children. The Alice in Wonderland room is centred around The Mad Hatter's Tea Party and has all sorts of crazy things hanging from the ceiling to create a fantastical feel for guests. You really do feel like you just fell down a rabbit hole.
Behind a curtain is a dark room with chalkboard walls from floor to ceiling, which is UV-lit so that the chalk glows in the dark. Heading through the main tunnel, doors lead off to the Pirate room on one side and the Wild West on the other. The pirate ship is spectacular and there were plenty of young buccaneers running around with pirate hats on, waving foam swords at each other. The Wild West incorporates a jail, bank and saloon bar complete with swinging doors. Our kids' favourites were the wooden hobby horses on wheels which they galloped off on, never to be seen again.
Join Alice and Friends at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party
We had met up with friends and family and thus had 4 children between the ages of almost two and almost three. It cost us a mere $5 per child and us adults were all free, so it was a very reasonable day out. Besides the gated area there wasn't a huge amount to engage the youngest kids, but I can imagine that as the children get a little older and can sustain imaginary play, they will be in kiddie heaven. In fact, I would say that the kids we saw getting the most out of the experience were probably in the age bracket 5 – 10 years (from 4 years the cost goes up to $12 a head).
There are plenty of staff on hand supervising in each room and attempting to keep things moderately tidy. They were mostly playing host to the many birthday parties that were being held when we went, although I imagine that during the week they would be more accessible to the non-party children. Our littlies were very excited to get their faces painted for the first time by one of the staff (at no extra charge) and I saw a few lost or mildly upset children being herded back to their parents by them.
Sail the Seven Seas on a Swashbuckling Pirate Ship
There is plenty of seating scattered around the place and a fairly extensive menu of all day breakfasts, snacks and lunches. However our only let down of the day was that I couldn't get my promised hash browns because the deep fat fryer was broken. Our meals took a long while to appear and when they did, hubby's pizza came complete with a loop of plastic. However the staff happily refunded his money and were very apologetic.
I would definitely recommend a visit to The Imaginarium. Considering that we went on a cold, rainy Saturday, it wasn't overly busy and our almost three year olds lasted a good 4 hours before they turned mutinous on us. As I said before, slightly older children will get the most out of this play space, but it's a unique concept and with a few tweaks to the system it has the potential to become a very popular place, particularly with the locals.
Scare your Socks off in the glowing Halloween Hall
The review is totally off the mark, it is dusty and dirty and has food from parties past, after reading this I headed down with my 3 boys and was so disappointed, looks like someone had some plywood and paint left over in a disused factory.