Play Central indoor play centre in Port Melbourne is worth a trip across town. It’s well spread out, decease clean, help bathed in natural light, troche air-conditioned and contains enough toys and games to keep kids entertained for a couple of hours.
The play centre is on busy Crockford Street Port Melbourne, which means if possible it’s best to park in the centre’s carpark which is free and with no time restrictions. However, there are only eighteen car spots so you may have to park on street, which has limited spaces for 2 hours Mon-Sat 8am-6pm.
The huge warehouse space is divided into three sections – the active play area, imaginative play area and the cafe.
The active play area has a soft fall toddler space with slides, tunnels, foam blocks and a very popular mini merry-go-round.
Next to it is a massive volcano climbing mountain and long slide for adventurous toddlers or older kids.
Vehicle-mad Baby 2.0 loves the mini dodgem cars but is too short to reach the pedals – you need to be over 105cm to drive the cars (ie around 4+ years). The activity is fenced, fully supervised and adults aren’t allowed in the cars.
At the back is a massive play gym with a trampoline, ball pit, slides and a myriad of tunnels to climb up and around. It’s big enough for adults to use too! Baby 2.0 and Lady AB are keen to explore it all but are both too scared by the constant whump-whump noises emanating from the ball air guns. I thought it was an odd choice for little kids but I guess older kids will love it.
So they retreat to the imaginative play area. This is the highlight of Play Central!
There’s a room which is just wall to wall toys, from familiar Fisher Price items to Lego, foam blocks and bookshelves filled with picture books and a play tent.
Then a mini city with a supermarket, construction zone, animal hospital and coffee shop.
The kids love pushing a trolley around, scanning the shelves, ‘buying’ groceries with fake money at the checkout counter then taking the goods to the toy kitchens so that they can cook dinner.
Baby 2.0 zooms around with a wheelbarrow, construction helmet rakishly awry….
and then discovers all the cute animal softies on his way out so tucks in the animals to sleep in the hospital.
The cafe at Play Central is spacious, pleasant and offers healthy, reasonably-priced food – you’re not allowed to BYO food (baby food and formula excepted). A ham and cheese sandwich or Vegemite and cheese sandwich, hot dog, sausage roll or party pie is only $3 or you can buy a lunch box for $10 which includes any of the above plus fruit, popcorn, juice or water and a toy. For adults their paninis are around $7-8 and there are sweet treats for around $5. Coffee and tea is made with Sensory Lab beans and leafs.
From the cafe you have visibility of the soft fall toddler area and climbing volcano only as the play gym is too far away. The sight lines to all areas aren’t great, especially if you have multiple kids going in opposite directions. Fortunately there is only one secure entry/exit and all kids have wristbands with their adult’s phone number on it, so they can’t get lost or run away! And if you have trouble getting your kids to leave, a stormtrooper with lollipops may help lure them out!
Finally the staff are friendly and helpful, the climate control is a real benefit in inclement and uncomfortable weather and I really like that there is no music or screens given the amount of sensory stimulation around already (though their website indicates that TVs for adults will be installed). There’s a disabled toilet with change facilities and high chairs.
My only concern with Play Central, and it’s small, is the price. I’m used to paying around $10 per child (more like $8) for play centre entry. Here you pay $10 per child for 1-3 years, $15 for 4+ years, $2.50 per adult and under 1s are free. It adds up if you have more than one child and have some food, but after having visiting the space I think what you’re paying for is quality AND quantity. There are a LOT of toys to play with, catering for all age groups and interests, and there’s no time limit for play. We like to go early, stay for 3-4 hours and still fit in lunch and an afternoon nap.
Play Central is a great option for families when outside’s wet/cold/super hot, with enough space in the cafe so that you can easily catch up with family and friends. Their free wifi means you can even do some work if you need!
- Limited off-street free parking (18 spots), limited on-street free 2 hour parking on Crockford Streets.
- Entry fee includes unlimited play. No need to book.
- You must wear socks for hygiene reasons. If you forget then you can purchase socks at the front counter.
- You cannot BYO food and drinks, baby food and formula excepted. They provide a water jug and cups for free.
- High chairs, kids menu.
- Disabled toilet with change facilities.
- Free wifi.
- Party rooms and packages available.