Exercising the Imagination at Mattel Play! Liverpool

Nestled away in a corner of The Albert Dock, on Liverpool’s majestic waterfront is Mattel Play! Liverpool. It’s not a place I would associate with a space designed with children and imagination in mind. My first memory of the Albert Dock being standing outside the windows watching This Morning being filmed and catching the back of Richard and Judy’s heads!

But I’m showing my age now, so I duly rounded up my newest and brightest new reviewing recruits to find out what Mattel Play! Liverpool has to offer.

Mattel Play! Liverpool.

Through the doors of Mattel Play! Liverpool is a 2 level bright and colourful experience. This isn’t just another soft play centre you desperately try to avoid. I know, I spent a lot of time trying to avoid them! From the controlled admissions, so it doesn’t get too crowded for the kids to play, to the well thought spacious areas, you and your child (or other peoples as I borrowed my niece and nephew) have 2 hours to fully explore everything there is to see and do in the world of Fireman Sam, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. All 3 reinvented for a new generation and all 3 still loved and adored by babies and toddlers to this day.

First Impressions.

*I’m not sure if the staff were aware we were reviewing or not as I didn’t mention it*

The entrance takes you into the cafe downstairs and the shop/reception area. The staff were really helpful and told us exactly where we needed to go to start our two-hour slot. There are both toilets upstairs and downstairs and lockers downstairs too. The lockers require a £5 deposit which is fully refundable on handing in your key. 100% worth it in my opinion. One of the first things I noticed was how clean and tidy the floor and the immediate area was. Which of course is exactly what you need when taking young children somewhere.

Our Experience at Mattel Play! Liverpool.

Thomas the Tank Engine

collage of kids playing in a thomas the tank engine themed zone at mattel play! liverpool

I’m not going to lie, I was dubious over this whole interactive aspect. Would I have to get involved or could I sit around and watch the kids hurl themselves into one thing after another? I’m saying it because we all think it, don’t we! Well, it’s a bit of both. There are literally so many things to do they didn’t know where to start.

You enter into Thomas the Tank Engine zone and immediately you can see how much thought is put into this. You can schedule trains, build tracks, ship coal or even drive your very own train. And parent participation can be as little or as much as you like. Being 4, our two were too cool to want us around most of the time and were more than happy to just have us close by and watch them play. They even met The Fat Controller too!

children and thomas the tank engine fat controller at mattel play! liverpool

Bob the Builder

Our time with Thomas and friends was cut short as we gathered around for a meet and greet with the one and only Fireman Sam! This is where having a set amount of visitors at one time was really beneficial as all the kids got meet him. Our pair took a little persuading but once they got there, they were as pleased as punch before we headed off the if we could ‘fix it’ with Bob the Builder. Short answer, yes we could, as well as destroying it all over again.

boy and girl meeting fireman sam character

They both really seemed to enjoy this section and we spent a lot of time here, mainly making up Bob’s favourite dinner, sardine sandwiches! As my niece loves to help me cook in the kitchen at home, she was in her element here as my nephew made the place safe by putting up cones everywhere! But what she especially enjoyed was being able to sit down and draw her own pictures of Bob and his friends. This is a really nice touch I think as not all kids are active and like to express themselves through imaginative play. This allows them to express themselves creatively too. My nephew, however, is definitely of the creative play kind as we dug holes, scooped some sand and basically tried to build a house!

desk and art work for children at mattel play! liverpool

A lot of fun was had with Bob the Builder, and I definitely think they preferred that to the Thomas area as they could get more hands-on and stuck in. That was until we headed downstairs……..

collage of children in bob the builder theme zone at mattel play! liverpool

Fireman Sam.

Sam the was big draw today, and after meeting him, it was highly anticipated. Situated back downstairs, were all the things you expect when you think of Fireman Sam. Instantly they both headed to the little shop and began filling up their trollies! That was until they caught sight of the fire engine and off they went whilst my sister and I took a seat to watch them play.

collage of boy and girl playing in fireman sam zone at mattel play! liverpool

You can pretty much see the entire area if you choose to stay seated, but we and most of the parents there didn’t for too long. I mean we had to put out the fire at sea, and slide down the fireman’s pole and drive the fire engine. You can’t do that sitting down, can you? With their little helmets on, they really got into it and saved pretty much the entire world from a fire after practising their fire drill. Which included many, many, many slides down the pole. You know, just to get it right! It’s safe to say we spent a big chunk of our two-hour time slot down here.


The kids loved it. It is so much more than just a soft play centre and fans of the 3 shows can really explore and let their imaginations run free as they act out their favourite scenes with their favourite characters. You can really get a feel quite quickly at the thought and detail put into making this a fun, imaginative and safe environment.

They really didn’t want to leave and could have spent the day putting out fires or building houses and driving trains. They wanted to pay to go back in again straight away! You can’t get higher praise than that can you really!

But from an adults perspective, it really is a place where you can help them learn and develop new skills all whilst having fun at the same time. Because let’s face it, learning through play is so much more fun than watching it on TV. Our twosome threw themselves in with gusto and declared they had the best time ever!


You can pre-book your session online before you visit so as not to be disappointed. Each 2-hour slot starts every 20 mins (eg 12.00, 12.20, 12.40). From 9.20 am to 15.20 pm 7 days a week. No food or drinks, except water, are permitted in the play zones. Prices are as follows;

  • Babies 0-12 months with full paying adult and full paying child £0
  • Babies 0-12 months with full paying adult £6
  • Children 1-12 £12
  • Adults age 13+ £3

All children must be accompanied by a paying adult. You can book online or find out more information at Mattel Play! Liverpool

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