Oliver just loves Thomas the Tank Engine. The “big blue choo choo,” is now a common theme in our house. He has a Thomas bed, lamp, book collection, a ton of Thomas toys, a duvet cover and the list goes on. So our main reason for visiting Mattel Play in Liverpool was very much the Thomas the Tank area. That said, the recently opened Albert Docks attraction does have 3 areas:
- Thomas the Tank
- Bob the Builder
- Fireman Sam
We visited on a term time Monday morning (just a few days ago). That just happened to be when our boy’s second birthday fell and I’ve also just gone on maternity leave ahead of the arrival of our second. It suits me that it fell like that because as much as I worship the ground my own toddler walks on, the idea of being in a packed out attraction with hundreds of other hyperactive toddlers frankly does not appeal.
Here’s the basic information:
Mattel Play Pricing
The pricing is generally £10 per child and £2 per adult. That’s for a 2 hour slot and you can book that slot in advance on the website (advised, I believe, if visiting at a weekend or in the school holidays). That said, term time midweek you can get a toddler and an adult for £10 total. So for my husband, myself and our little boy the total entry fee was £12.
That, I think, represents pretty good value. We were also advised on arrival that because the attraction was quiet that day we would not be limited to 2 hours.
Mattel Play Liverpool Location
Mattel Play is located right on Liverpool’s Albert Dock. It’s easy to find (we drove) and is well connected for public transport too. Parking isn’t cheap and frankly the car parks on Albert Docks are tight to say the least. Car Park B does have slightly wider spaces specifically catering to families and all the additional junk they typically have to get in and out of their cars! That’s where we headed.
Mattel Play Liverpool Review in Summary
On the whole, we thought Mattel Play in Liverpool was a great day out. Oliver has just turned 2 and he really did love it. Particular highlights for him:
- He loved “driving” Thomas the Tank Engine
- The small train ride where he could stand on a train going around a track
- The Bob the Builder building area where he could build (and destroy) a wall
- Fireman Sam’s Jet Ski and the slides there
- Fireman Sam’s boat
In the Thomas the Tank Engine area, there’s also a ball pool and soft play areas where Oliver was able to build towers. By the time we actually went there though he was pretty tired and wasn’t all that interested.
Those are the bits he enjoyed the most. Maybe when he’s a little older he might enjoy the drawing area and things like that. And he might, if we revisit, be a little more up for dressing up. But on our visit on Monday, Oliver decided he would not be adorning his head with a Bob the Builder or Fireman Sam helmet. At all.
On the whole, I think it’s a great sized attraction probably for those aged 4 and under. Much older than that and I think that you’d probably struggle to keep their attention.
Mattel Play – the Good
It’s really well designed and the character appearances are lovely. There’s enough there to keep a toddler thoroughly entertained without overwhelming them. I also thought it was pretty good value for money as an attraction.
Mattel Play – the Not so Good
We decided to get lunch on site in the cafe before leaving. It was quiet and Oliver was tired and hungry after all the excitement so we decided not to drag him off anywhere else for lunch.
We discovered there are only 2 high chairs in the whole place which surprised us because it’s an attraction that advertises itself to families with young children. So we thought that was a bit poor. Oliver is fine to sit on a normal chair so it wasn’t the end of the world. But it did mean he was able to keep getting off his chair and running off to the shop to be chased by (a heavily pregnant) me or by my husband. A few more high chairs would certainly help.
The service in the cafe was a bit slow too. I queued for 10 minutes just to order and there were only 2 people in front of me. Then we waited a further 15 minutes for our drink and 20 for food. Again, just given how impatient young children can be and the fact that this was on a quiet day, I thought this was something that had room for improvement.
Food wasn’t as expensive as you might expect in attractions like this though and it was reasonable quality.
Mattel Play – Will we Return?
We probably will go back in a few months or maybe a year. Our little boy had an amazing time. He really did absolutely love it and it was a pretty good value day out.
I would return again mid week term time – thoroughly taking advantage of the fact I can before he goes to school!