Following a challenge from Helena at Babyfoote to find the letter X in her A to Z of toddler days out, Little M and I discovered a weekly thirty-minute toddler play session for families at Xscape Castleford.
The venue hosts a variety of attractions, the most notable being the architecture defining Sno-Zone ski slope.
Sno-Zone at Xscape Castleford is the UK’s largest indoor real snow slope, housing over 1,500 tonnes of authentic freezing snow all year round at a cold minus five degrees!
Every Thursday at 10.15, the doors are opened for children aged two years and above for thirty minutes of playtime in the snow. Tickets are £4.99 per child (adults are free) with £2.50 for clothing hire if required (£2 if booked online).
We opted to hire clothing for both myself and Little M, which includes waterproof thermal jackets and trousers. For hygiene reasons they do not supply hats, scarfs and you will still need to wear warm clothes underneath.
The key information, which I completely missed, until Mrs M read our confirmation email, was that you need to arrive 30 minutes before the session is supposed to start. Initially, this seemed a bit excessive, but trying to get a group of toddlers to do anything, let alone dress up in full ski attire is a challenge!
Using the changing rooms and lockers we fairly quickly got ready and were informed that we would both need to wear safety helmets. On another day – this could have been a deal breaker for Little M, but with a little negotiation and his choice, he was togged up with his crash helmet on, ready for some snow!
Once we entered the indoor snow area, it quickly became apparent that it really is as cold as they say! I knew it would be chilly, but assumed without any wind – a couple of layers and a jacket would be plenty.
The cordoned area was on the far side and included a play area at the bottom with a selection of buckets, spades, rakes, soft play shapes and characters. There was also a decent slope which we were encouraged to slide down.
Little M loved it. We were building snow castles, flattening, raking and walking on snow, throwing snow and trying to build a snowman – although it did look more like a hill without eyes or a nose!
The atmosphere was very relaxed with supportive staff who guided the play and ensured novices like us were well looked after. We were one of about eight families, which was the perfect number for the area available.
About twenty minutes into our play, Little M’s tiny fingers and toes were becoming cold, and he was keen to return to the warmth. We only had his fabric gloves and regular shoes, which were now soaking wet with ice. It was a complete oversight on my part. We should have taken the following:
- Waterproof Gloves
- Wellington Boots
- Thermal Socks / or Two Pairs
- & More Layers
As a result, we did leave before the session ended and missed out the child’s free drink, but that didn’t matter at all as despite the cold, Little M had a brilliant time and has said he would like to return again.
Our trip to the SnoZone will be an adventure I will remember for quite a while. It was something really different and great value for money. I hope to take a few more days off work so we can visit again – particularly in the summer when it will be even more of a contrast to the outdoor weather, to really confuse the little guy!
It was also his little brother’s first outing and introduction to our adventures, even though he did stay in the warmth and look after Mrs M from the coffee area which overlooks the slopes.
An Alternative Soft Play and an unusual activity, the SnowZone children’s play time is a fantastic family experience and the perfect #daddayout.
One of the coolest Dad Days Out
The toddler session at Sno-Zone is a fun and unusual family activity. Great value admission with friendly and well organised staff, it was a great alternative to traditional playgroups. I look forward to returning to this chilly, but enjoyable activity.