On a friend’s recommendation we headed off to Underwater Street in Liverpool. Underwater Street is on the docks and a little bit hidden if your not looking out for it. Situated in a rather lovely period building, it’s an absolute gem.
I would roughly explain it as a role play, hands-on, creative, physical, sensory, science-filled exploration place (which also does parties). The website describes it more succinctly as a ‘discovery centre’.
For any child that enjoys role play, this the the place to let your morphing ability run wild. There is a pizzeria, a grocery store and Post Office, a pooch parlour, a news desk ( with live camera feed) and a construction site. There are costumes to go with each desired area and a Mr Ben’s labyrinth hosting many guises.
For a burst of energy there is a climbing wall, balance beams and massive cannon to shoot targets with. Midway down the centre you find a tunnel with motion sensors. You are instructed to jump, limbo and crawl to reach the other side. The buzzer goes off if you trip the sensors. It was really difficult. I noted a few parents eyeing it up, getting ready with the ‘it can’t be that hard, let me show you..’ excuse as means to have a go.
Bookworm loves her craft. There was much to paint, stick, scrunch, staple, bend and mould. They announce when the craft is starting over the tannoy. You then head to the multiple appointed stations (first-come-first-served type thing). The announcements are frequent though so I cautioned Bookworm about the use of elbows. During our stay there she produced a painted clay starfish, a hula skirt and fridge magnet.
For me one of the most outrageously fun things was painting a car. An actual car! (Probably formerly a VW Beetle?) The layers of paint are incredibly thick. The floor and walls were covered. As you can see protective footwear was indeed needed. The Chap loved the freedom in this. He relished in the fact I was unable to scream as the lashings of paint were so un-meticulously splashed upon the wall. The glint in his eye was obvious.
For the logic fans and thinkers there are great optical illusions and an intriguing time exposure light screen cupboard. One small room with a slanted floor and checkerboards was very peculiar to view. There was also a new bubble show. I learnt a new secret bubble mix formula and some rather impressive bubble-in-a-bubble techniques. You could even stand in a special contraption and get inside a bubble.
A heads up though. Do make sure the children make use of the aprons up around the wet play. The panning for gold activity was followed by the find-the-dry-patch-on-Bookworm game. Aprons were fully available I just wasn’t fast enough to compete with their enthusiasm for water play.
All the staff were great and obviously liked their jobs. It takes a lot of staff to clean the stations and ensure all the bits of things are in the correct places. I was amazed that clean paper, filled paint pots and perfectly stocked areas were presented us every time we went to use them.
There is a cafe in the middle of the room (the centre is based in one long room, in an L shape). The range of meals and cakes were good, but you do have to purchase food from the cafe if you wish to eat there. Unfortunately you are unable to leave and come back again on the same ticket, so you either eat their food, or you don’t eat. So ensure that either you have budgeted to eat in the cafe for lunch or go after the tribe is fed. For once I had been organised in taking a pack-up, which we then ate in the car on the journey home.
Adults go free. Babies are free. One-year-olds are £6.95. Anyone older than one is £10.95. I have just the two children and as we planned it as a whole day out venture I thought the price was quite good value. We were there for three hours and Bookworm could have stayed longer. I was amazed that The Chap (at 21 months) still felt very well catered for. I think because the room is so large once you spend half and hour down one end you forget there is a whole other section down the other, which you rediscover each time. Some of the areas could have done with updating, as they’re looking a little tired.
I would also suggest that Underwater Street offered a family ticket for people with two or more children over one. With each child costing £10.95, it soon adds up.
We had a great time. And I have never really come across anything like this before. We will definitely make another visit this year.
We did not receive anything from Underwater Street to write this. All views are our own.