This week we went to Circus Play Café at East 12th Avenue and Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
We’ve been a few times before but not for a good few months, maybe even a year.
It’s a nice space. There’s the cafe area, the play area for children aged five and under, and a quiet reading/baby room. There isn’t room for buggies inside the cafe, so they have to be left outside. I don’t really feel comfortable doing that so I always take the baby carrier instead, but I’ve never heard of anyone’s pushchair going missing!
For two hours’ play for walkers, you pay $9 (plus tax, so $9.45). Crawlers are $7 and under 7 months are free. A sibling costs $6. If you plan to go frequently, you can get a book of ten tickets for $70.
Circus has an electronic registration system, where you log your child’s medical history, any allergies, etc in case of emergency. This is a little faffy to do when you arrive so I recommend doing it online beforehand. Then when you arrive you log in, print off a sticker, attach it to your child (on his back, or it won’t last long…) and off he pops.
Parents can go into the play area or they can stay in the cafe and listen out for wails emanating from their personal sproglet while making the most of the free wifi or enjoying Thomas Haas hot chocolate and granola bites.
When we’ve been in the past, I’ve been in the play area with my daughter because there are a few structures to climb and she could only just walk the last time we went. This time I stayed in the cafe with my friend and our babies and peered over the divide occasionally to make sure she wasn’t hurting anyone.
There are three climbing frames in the play area, each with a slide plus a slide on its own, as well as other toys like a dolls house, kitchen, rocking horse and those toys with the sliding beads that are always in doctors’ waiting rooms. Most of the toys are wooden, but the food in the kitchen is plastic.
The cafe is not cheap (and outside food is not allowed), but it has a good variety of food (including some gluten-free options) and various drinks, including quite a few different herbal teas. I had a rooibos surprise which was lovely and my daughter had a kids’ hot chocolate which disappeared rapidly.
The toilet facilities are okay but there aren’t enough of them. There are only two toilets (one ladies’, one family) and only one changing table, which is in the family loo. For a facility aimed at under-fives, this isn’t really enough. I’ve often had to queue to change a nappy, which cuts down on play time! On a more positive note, there’s a bumbo in the family loo so once you’ve changed baby, assuming he can hold his head up, you can plonk him in that and go for a wee.
It was fun to go to Circus for a change and it’s great for when we’re meeting Vancouver-based friends. My daughter enjoyed herself and played with pretty much everything, but I think she probably enjoys herself just as much at Brentwood Town Centre’s play area, which is free and I can take snacks from home (and it’s much closer to us).On the way home