Review – Magna Science Adventure Centre

Last week for us was half term.  Big Mr A had a couple of days off at the end of the week so we decided we would have a day out.  We searched on the internet for somewhere different to go and came across Magna.  Described as a ‘Science Adventure Centre’ the website made it look really exciting and like there would be lots for Little Mr A to interact with.  We booked tickets online and set off.

When we arrived we saw a great play park which had lots of different things to play on so we had a great first impression.  The building itself looked great and like there would be lots to do.

The reception staff were friendly and through booking tickets online we were dealt with quickly and headed inside.

What struck us was how cold and dark it was!  We knew it was an old Steel Mill but from looking on the website it didn’t look to be that dark!  We navigated our way around the main platform but were disappointed by the interactive activities.  They consisted of a few computer screens all with the same game on and spotlights that you had to find things which would then come up on the screen.  This was really quite difficult and certainly too much for Little Mr A to do.

We made our way to the fire pavilion where we managed to warm up!  The highlight of that room was the fire tornado which was really quite impressive, however, there wasn’t really much else of interest in the room and a lot of the exhibits and interactive activities were not working (which we found to be the case throughout most of the rooms).

As it was coming up to dinnertime we went to find the packed lunch area.  This was really quite difficult to find from the signs and with a pram it was not easy to get to having to use a couple of different lifts to get there.  Another problem was one of the lifts was out of order as it had become stuck leaving some poor people stranded in there for most of the afternoon!

When we found the packed lunch area it was full of school children!  We managed to find a table in the corner but it was very noisy!  I appreciate they cater for school groups but think they could maybe have a separate packed lunch area for regular visitors!

Once we had finished lunch we made our way back into the cold and went to the earth pavilion.  In here there was quite a few things for Little Mr A to do such as a sandpit with various diggers etc, some large diggers that you could sit in and pick up things with and a rock activity where you placed pretend rocks on a conveyor belt and watched them go through various processes before being able to collect them in a wheelbarrow at the end and take them back to the beginning.  Unfortunately Little Mr A could not join in properly with this as there were not enough wheelbarrows to go around, and it wasn’t even particularly busy!  Although this room was more fun, it was very noisy and I dread to think what it would have been like on a busy day.

Next we attempted to visit the water pavilion, however, it was full of the school groups and, after 5 minutes of not been able to go on anything and Little Mr A being pushed around we decided to visit the air pavilion and come back later.  I think it should be better organised so that perhaps the pavilions could be closed for a set amount of time whilst the school groups visit and then reopen to the regular visitors after.  It was too much to have lots of school children in one area whilst regular visitors are trying to use the exhibits too.  I am sure we all remember what we were like of school trips, over excited and not really paying attention to anyone else around!!

We visited the air pavilion next which again had a few things for Little Mr A to try, however, I felt a lot of the things in this room were aimed at bigger children as some of them were quite difficult for him to do.

We eventually made our way back to the water pavilion which was definitely the best for Little Mr A.  There was lots of activities for him to take part in including boats to play with and really fun water pistols where you could hit targets.  Be warned though, if you have little ones that like water play, they will get wet!

After that we took a trip to the outdoor play park which I felt was the best part of the day.  There were so many things to go on and I think Little Mr A could have spent all day in there!  In the warmer weather they have a water park too which looked like good fun.

Overall the facilities were good, toilets were clean and plenty of them.  I can’t comment on the food or drink as we did not use the cafe, however, it was very dark in there!

The price of a ticket is £10.95 for an adult and £8.95 for children over 4.  You can get a discount by purchasing online and there are family deals available.  Once you have bought your tickets you can fill in a form and on your second visit take it back with passport photos and you will get a yearly pass for no extra.  Unfortunately I don’t think we will be taking advantage of this as I really can’t see us going back there again, certainly not until our children are older.  I don’t think it is a great place for young children, I am not really sure what age groups would get the most out of it really.

We were a bit disappointed by our visit really, I think there are much better places in the area to go especially with younger children.  I can see that it is a great place for school trips but perhaps not great for the regular visitor.

Review – Scrambles Soft Play EICA:Ratho Edinburgh International Climbing Arena

ImageWhilst on our most recent trip up to Scotland we visited Scrambles Soft Play at EICA:Ratho, part of the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena.

Situated just 5 miles past Edinburgh airport on the West side of the City it is a large activity centre for all ages.

Today we visited the soft play centre.  Although fairly pricey at £4.90 for 1 hour and £5.90 for 90 minutes at over 18 months the actual soft play facility is better than some others we have visited.  I was however very disappointed to have to pay £1 for Little Miss A to go into the centre even though, at 2 months old, she slept the whole time!  I appreciate it is only £1 extra but feel this is a bit cheeky when the price for older children is quite expensive and it is unlikely that any child under 6 months is going to use the facilities, even though they have a baby section.  I almost woke Little Miss A up to get her moneys worth but decided not to be so cruel!

As it was very busy today we were not allowed to stay more than 1 hour and the time is well monitored by the workers.  It is very well restricted as to how many children are allowed in at any one time, which was refreshing as I can find soft play centres to be horrendously busy which is no fun for child, parent or staff!

There were plenty of seats and tables for us to sit at in view of the various play equipment so we were never far away from Little Mr A but could allow him to go off and play by himself without having to worry.  He went with his cousin J who is not quite 3 and he to was able to go off with Little Mr A to play with no worries.

Whilst there we had some lunch and I think this is where the centre stands out from others we have visited in the past.  Both myself and Big Mr A had a sandwich with crisps and a drink and for children they do a great lunch bucket where you can pick 5 different items for £3.95.  It was very reasonably priced and very tasty!

As for the play equipment itself it was very clean and really well laid out in the different age appropriate sections.  There was a baby play area, a toddler play area and then a separate play area for children aged 4-9 which was well separated from the younger children’s areas.  There was plenty to keep Little Mr A and J occupied for the full hour they were there including the usual soft play equipment and slides together with a mini climbing wall.  They had a great time chasing each other around!

Although it is a good place to take your older children I would say they really need to get rid of the charge for the under 6 month olds as I think that really if you have a young baby you would be able to find somewhere cheaper elsewhere that doesn’t charge for young babies.  This is the only thing that really lets the place down, other than the soft play centre being on the very ground floor which can only be accessed by a lift with a pram/pushchair and there is only one lift available.

When Little Mr A gets older it would be nice to take him back to have a go on the climbing walls it looked like good fun, however, I might have to get Big Mr A to take him as I don’t know whether my nerves could handle it!