[Advert - we were recently invited to a lovely day at intu Metrocentre, where we were all thoroughly spoiled. We had agreed beforehand to share info about our day and the activities on offer. I haven’t been asked to post about anything in particular, and as always all views are my own, but I will always be transparent about any relationships I have with brands.]
Taking my kids shopping is not something that I relish the thought of. As soon as they are within 100 yards of a shop they are suddenly starving and lose the ability to walk normally. Instead either tearing around as fast as they can, or equally endearingly holding my hand only to drag their weight to the floor. Thankfully intu Metrocentrehas thought of us parents and there are a host of things to do (lots of them free) to make shopping with kids a bit more bearable, and offer some brilliant activities perfect for a rainy day, or birthday treat.
I think in the past few years, intu Metrocentre have really upped their game in what’s on offer for kids and families. If you are making a trip for the last minute pre-holiday essentials or back to school clothes, then there are loads of places to stop for five or ten minutes to let the kids blow off some steam and have a play, to hopefully make the trip that bit easier.
A Little Pressie - Firstly if you are planning any trips to intu Metrocentre then follow this link and sign up for the intu Family Club. It’s quick and free to join, and you are emailed a voucher to pick up a welcome pack from the customer service desk which includes loads of discounts for intu Metrocentre restaurants, as well as a small gift (at the moment it’s Playmobile figures).
The Play Park - Just outside of the Yellow Mall entrance to intu Metrocentre, there is a really decent play park. If you are only planning a short visit, it’s great to park in the Yellow car park, so kids can have 5 minutes play on their way in or out.
The Lego Shop - We can never visit the intu Metrocentre without calling into the Lego store. Even if you aren’t planning on buying anything, it’s a great shop to browse. They have both Lego and duplo tables with toys for kids to play and build with, and they have an amazing augmented reality TV screen. It’s hard to explain, but can see yourself with animated characters and vehicles moving around on the Lego box you are holding. We were fascinated when we saw it, and spent about 15 minutes holding up different boxes to try. The Lego shop is a brilliant pit stop for a bit of fun between the to do list.
Free Shows and Activities - If you know that you need to visit intu Metrocentre and are taking the kids with you, then it’s worthwhile trying to coincide your trip with some of the free shows or scheduled activities. The Metrognomes perform a show four times a day, right through to the end of the school holidays. Monday to Friday the shows are on at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, and other times are available here. There is a different show each week, all are circus themed and full of songs and jokes, so sure to keep the kids entertained. Each show is performed on the stage area outside of Primark.
The Disney Store is also hosting fun, free, family activities every Tuesday and Thursday over the summer. Each activity runs every half an hour between 2pm-4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Choose to Create Your Own Forky from Toy Story 4 on Thursday 1st, Tuesday 13th and Thursday 15th August, or join the Spider-Man Training Academy on Tuesday 6th or Thursday 8th August 2019.
Our kids loved making their own Forkys, helped by the Disney Store staff with the materials, they came out really well too.
Baby and Toddler friendly - The Metrocentre’s smallest visitors haven’t been forgotten about, and neither have their mums. Even though my two kids are too big for it now, I think its great that intu Metrocentre has set up the free soft play area in the Antique Village (or at least it used to be called that? The upstairs section between Wetherspoons and M&S) for babies and toddlers to be able to run free, in a safe place to let their parents relax for a short while. I know I would have loved it when my two were little.
There is also a dedicated feeding room, which is upstairs in the Blue Mall, just before you get to the bus station. Whilst it’s probably not the most glam room you’ll feed your baby in (check out Fenwick’s baby area - it is super swish), I’m glad that intu Metrocentre have provided somewhere to go, if you need a bit of privacy, or if your baby is at that age that they can’t focus on either a boob or a bottle unless there are no distractions. I spent quite a decent chunk of my maternity leave buying coffees or bottles of water that I didn’t really want, just so I could sit down and feed the baby. If I’d known about this room then I could have saved myself a few quid.
Family Activities and Days Out
Clip and Climb - The highlight of our family day at The Metrocentre was the brand new Clip and Climb which is in the main walkway of the Yellow Mall, near to Argos. It was absolutely brilliant. Both kids loved it. It’s built on the ground floor, but at the highest point of the climbing walls you were as tall as the upper floor, and seeing everyone walk around on the top floor made you feel very, very high up.
The climbing walls are all different difficulties, so there were walls suitable for everyone. My little girl really enjoyed the ladders, and stair-like climbing walls, whilst my little boy who is 5 was a bit more adventurous and made it right to the top of one of the walls. I had a go at a circular boulder type of wall and my poor neglected arm ‘muscles’ didn’t know what had hit them. My husband, went on the highest slide that I’ve ever seen (don’t miss the video of it at the bottom of this page) which involved him being pulled up by his arms to 10ft high and then having to let go.
The minimum age for the standard sessions is 4, and there is a minimum weight too, so might be worth a phonecall in advance if you have a teany tiny 4 year old, to save any disappointment. The website had a pre-school section, but the info on their is brief. Other Clip and Climb centres do a toddler session for under 4s, so worthwhile getting in touch if you have a toddler or pre-schooler who would love a climb.
The sessions last 90 minutes. The first 30 mins is getting ready and watching a short safety video, then 60 minutes of fun. Sessions cost £13.50 (for any age) if you book them online in advance, if you haven’t booked then you can just drop in, but it’s slightly more expensive at £14.50.
Bowling, Soft Play and Trampolines - Tucked away at the entrance to the Yellow Mall is Namco Funscape, which is a child’s dream. There are arcade games, a dodgems ride, bowling alley and soft play. Information and prices are available here. The bowling alley has those ball guide type of contraptions so that young kids can push their bowling balls down that rather than struggle to throw them.
Bungee trampolines where kids can fly through the air are available outside of Primark.
Fun ways of getting around - intu Metrocentre have replaced the old fleet of fun buggies that I used to sometimes get when my two were small, with new swish cars and vans. Even now, my two can’t walk past them without hopping in for a minute. You can hire them from customer services outside of M&S. It’s £3 per hour for a single seater, £4 an hour for a double, but there is also a refundable £10 deposit required when hiring them.
If you’ve ever been to intu Metrocentre with kids then I’m sure you’ll know about the mini train that drives around the centre. You can hop on next to Primark and buy tickets in advance from the automated ticket machine.
Eating out with kids
There are absolutely loads of options for eating out with kids at intu Metrocentre, and where your <a href="https://intu.co.uk/metrocentre/families/family-club" rel="nofollow">intu Family Club</a> membership comes in really handy. Once you’ve signed up you have access to Kids' Eat Free offers at Mod Pizza, Ask Italian, Pizza Express and Chiquito. I always try and use these offers whenever possible as often the meals include a drink and/or a dessert, and it really keeps the cost down of eating out.
During our recent family day out we ate in MOD pizza which was really tasty, and perfect for anyone fussy. You pick exactly what you would like on your pizza whilst the staff prepare it in front of you. You get unlimited toppings, and they have huge fired ovens, so the food came really quickly too. I would definitely recommend it as a great place for families.