I had been wanting to go to this play centre and area of discovery for both tiny tots and bigger kids for a while now. The reasons were three-fold:
- It was in my town.
- I have a child, and wanted to see how much fun it would be for her, and
- I wanted to compare it against The Hungry Peacock, where I had been to twice since my first visit as part of a blogging experience in 2016.
It was a little bit cheeky, but I went in with these thoughts in mind. Which was superior? Which would keep the kids entertained more? What was, similar? I have it on insider knowledge that the peeps who started The Hungry Peacock with the existing owners, well they had wanted to do things a different way and clearly had other kids play area ideas in mind… and so The Messy Shed rebelliously was born from those peeps, to formulate those ideas into reality.
It was the Autumn school hols that saw me take baby girl along to meet with her two cousins and their Mum, for a midweek visit. We were booked for a 10:30am session, as there are times that you pick online, or when you call in… however on arrival we decided to also add the play centre addition, for an extra $5. The kids would get messy and creative and do all kinds of things for 45 minutes, before continuing the fun in the play centre area, for as long as they liked.
We got in nice and early, so the 3 girls, two aged 5 and one at 2, had a good go at exploring before more kids arrived.
Sorting in a scavenger hunt.
Water play and squirting.
Sand art and castles.
Make your own tube tunnels.
Various games and tasks.
And my fave… the swing!
This one got pretty busy after baby girl had her go, and the line turned long very quickly. Kids climbed onto a low hammock type swing, tummy down, and were given a piece of chalk to draw on the floor with while they pushed themselves around with their feet… even I wanted to do that one!
To my amusement and wonder I noticed a nearby corner where a kids hairdresser was located! It was partitioned from the rest of the messy area, but was clearly visible… why, how CLEVER.
Play, and then… “let’s cut your hair Tommy!”
Lots of Mums had gotten coffees from the nearby café offering café-style simple treats and drinks, but we wanted to save ourselves, and wait for after…
45 minutes was plenty of time for our girls, and perhaps too long. Our older girls in particular were finding themselves walking around and repeating the same tasks, and I had to wonder then, had they outgrown the ‘messy play’ stage, or was it something else?
I thought of the two times I had taken baby girl to The Hungry Peacock, and quickly realised… The Messy Shed had activities geared slightly towards the younger child. The Hungry Peacock, the older child.
As soon as the 45 minutes were up we were off, grabbing a table in the adjoining room so we could watch our kiddies run around an indoor playground, and drink coffee and eat some chips while doing so.
They were having a great time, but I don’t need to tell you that… playcentre, kids, they are synonymous with GOOD TIME.
We were there for a while when we saw the side door to the right of the large room, that seemed to be the gateway for another play area…
It is called Totsville, an interactive town, where kids can act out different roles usually assigned to adults, but in smaller form, so they can join in on the exploration and fun! We saw a number of kids going in and out, and after seeing some adults on the other side supervising their broods, we decided stuff it, ‘let’s also go to Totsville.’
Baby girl’s cousins Mum bought us ‘access’ and so we went to wait for the hour to be up so the last group could head out, before we could go in.
And after discussing with her how we thought The Hungry Peacock had more activities for our 5 year old girls to be enjoying, suddenly, we were eating our words.
It was really, really good.
They stayed in there for the whole hour, not bored at all. They put on uniforms, acted out roles as roadworkers, postal service workers, vets, sailors, and café assistants amongst other things. We helped them out and played with them at times, letting them cater to us with their ‘pretend’ coffees.
It was a great time, and a terrific concept… the only issue we found was, for a play area that was only garnered for those who paid to enter, with new groups accessing it on the hour, well there was no one keeping score.
We counted a whole lot of kids who went in and out, not accompanied by any adult, and with no staff nearby to check.
Had those kids really paid? Were they bored by it? Could we have gotten away with not paying either?
Of course we did pay, but yet we felt a little foolish after seeing the free-for-all for Totsville and all the kids coming and going as they pleased. Otherwise, the concept was terrific. Staffing in that area… not so much.
After that, the girls had a few more runs through the play centre area, and then it was time to go… we had possibly exceeded our longest ever time for a play catch up, it was hitting 3 hours, and The Messy Shed was closing!
Was that a good sign? Yes, yes it was. 🙂
The Messy Shed is at Factory 4 & 5, 1 Watt Road in Mornington
It is open 9:30am to 2:30pm every day of the week.
For further info call them on (03) 5975 2080, or alternatively go to their website for more information or to book a session – www.playatthemessyshed.com.au
Messy play sessions are at 9:30am, 10:30am and 11:30am. They last for 45 minutes and are $10, but pre-walkers are FREE!
The play centre access is $7 per child, or $15 if purchased in a Messy Play/Play centre combo.
Totsville is $10 for an hour of exploration.
You can throw a birthday party for your child there, and there is a hairdressing corner… contact them at the info above for more details.
Definitely book! Messy play sessions can get busy!
From my personal experience, the messy area is better for younger kids, though the swing is a pretty cool contraption.
The indoor playground is great for kids of all ages (watch out for the top tunnels as little ones can get stuck up there, have an older child on hand is great!)
Totsville is great for all kid ages too, with a slight emphasis on older kids, as they discover, act out and experiment with the mini-sized world around them.
My final verdict?
Hmm, a tough one to weigh up. There are pros for both The Hungry Peacock and The Messy Shed.
Peacock has ample room surrounding their proper café. The Shed has a café, with seating surrounding the play area.
They both have messy sessions… I feel Peacock is geared slightly towards older kids, with the Shed aimed at the younger tikes.
The Shed has Totsville… Peacock has outdoor play areas (play subject to weather of course) and play equipment in and around the café (separate from the messy area).
The Shed has a hairdresser… Peacock has a refurbished church for hire.
Both do birthday parties.
Peacock also does kids classes and a school holiday program.
Where does all this leave my conclusion?
For a more in depth review of The Hungry Peacock, click here to go to my review of the place.
Other than that I can say this with assuredness.
Both have a place.
The Messy Shed messy area is great for younger kids, while the play centre and Totsville ideal for older kids on cold and rainy days, where you can sit and watch them, protected by the elements, enjoying some café fare and a coffee.
The Hungry Peacock’s messy area I think is better suited to older kids. The inside and outdoor areas are for both, and for a decent feed I would go here. Also, on a sunny day, it would be lovely to sit out.
Both places are very different, yet cater for almost identical things.
Yet I think there is enough dirty play for both to exist. 😉