AD – This post reviews a PR Visit to Lollipops. Please see my Disclosure page for more details.
I’d like to introduce you to Dartford’s best kept secret for entertaining kiddos during half terms and weekends… Lollipops!
From Monday to Friday, Lollipops in Dartford is a nursery, but on weekends they open their doors as a stay and play, and guess what?! THERE’S SOFT PLAY! Yes, you read that right. There’s indoor soft play in the Orchard Centre in Dartford. Nope, I didn’t know either.
The indoor soft play is much smaller than a typical soft play centre, but plenty big enough for children of all ages to enjoy. There’s two levels with a slide and plenty of fun things to crawl through and under. Theres also a smaller area dedicated for younger children with a smaller slide – a great touch for when the ‘big kids’ get a little bit too much for the younger toddlers.
Lollipops also hold seasonal events at their venue in Dartford, such as Halloween and Christmas events, as well as organising external events also. Keep an eye on their website to see what events are next – there’s a Halloween Party on Sunday 31st October 2021 (£5 per child and £2.50 per adult) and tickets for the 2021 Christmas Grotto are already selling so be quick!
The full address is Lollipops Preschool Ltd, The Orchards Shopping Centre, Dartford, DA1 1DN.
It’s upstairs in the shopping centre, near Aldi.
If you’ve parked in the Aldi car park for free, you’ll want to go through the doors into the main Orchards Shopping Centre, try not to get collared out of £1 for the little ride on recycling truck, then either use the elevators or the stairs on the right to go up to the first level. If you’ve parked in The Orchards Shopping Centre, walk through the doors into the shopping centre and go down the half flight of stairs and you’ll see it right in front of you. You can’t miss it – there’s a lovely painted wall mural.
Despite the Aldi car park being free for 90 minutes, The Orchards Shopping Centre car park is where I would most recommend – it’s really reasonably priced at only 50p per hour, covered from the rain and you don’t have to worry about running out of time as you can just pay for whatever time you use.
The stay and play weekend sessions are really reasonably priced – they’re only £3 for children and £2 for adults. Check online to book your slot beforehand.
The price of the events and seasonal stay and play sessions vary, but the 2021 Halloween sessions were priced at £5 per child and £2.50 per adult.
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You can also hire Lollipops in Dartford for exclusive party use. This would be a great party venue for all ages of children – I’m even considering it for my toddler’s 3rd birthday!
Exclusive hire of the party venue including the soft play frame, music, invitations, a dedicated party host as well as squash and water for the children costs £175 for 1 hour 45 minutes or £200 for 2 hours.
We were invited to attend the Halloween Hangout event at Lollipops soft play in Dartford on Friday 29th October 2021.
We parked in the Orchard Shopping Centre car park – luckily it was very empty so we were able to get a covered space as it was pouring with rain… good old Autumn in England! It was easy to find from this car park, too – in the doors and down one half flight of stairs and Lollipops is straight in front. There’s beautiful big, bright murals painted on the walls so you can’t miss it.
When we walked in, I was initially impressed at the size of the soft play – albeit small, it was slightly larger than I anticipated having known it was normally a nursery during the daytime. All I could think was wow – what lucky children to have their very own soft play complete with slides inside their nursery!
As it was a special event, there were tables set up with plenty of Halloween themed arts and crafts. There was colouring, painting (the children were supposed to make a skeleton handprint, but Arthur wasn’t keen on painting his hand, so he painted on paper!), spider making, slime making and more! Although all Arthur really wanted to do was run around in the soft play, it was really nice to have activities to engage him whilst he was having calmer play and taking breaks from soft play. The staff members were on hand to help with the crafts and were kind and patient with Arthur, even when he didn’t want to wear an apron or do the activities as they were meant to be done. The older children that were able to do the crafts themselves looked like they were having an amazing time and showing so much independence with their crafting.
I was really impressed with the efforts that Lollipop Events had gone to – the venue was decorated with plenty of Halloween decorations including a spooky photo backdrop. They also played Halloween music in the background which was a lovely touch – my toddler obviously loved this as he kept having a little dance! There were also snack bags available for £3 but I completely forgot to pick one up for Arthur!
As it was half term, there were slightly older children in attendance than we are used to at soft plays – I must admit I normally avoid going to playgroups and soft plays outside of term time to purposefully avoid the school aged children. This meant that Arthur, being only 2 and a half, did get knocked about a little by the older children, but that was of course to be expected. Unfortunately I did notice a few times that some parents weren’t supervising their children as closely as I would ideally have liked which meant that there were a few minor incidents which could have been avoided, but I guess that happens at all soft plays and is a risk you take. Albeit annoying for me to see mums too busy on their phone to stop their child from trying to push my toddler, it didn’t hinder Arthur’s fun nor bother him whatsoever, so I can’t complain.
Overall, Lollipops soft play in Dartford is an absolute hidden gem and I would definitely recommend their sessions to other parents. The weekend sessions would be amazing if you’re already popping to do some shopping in Dartford and wanted to finish with a quick hour of soft play to wear the little ones out before heading home, or alternatively use the themed events and plan a day out to really get into the spirit of the season!
If you visit off the back of my recommendation, please tag me in your photos and let me know! #JodetopiaInKent