The Grown Up Play Factory is a monthly event held by the Play Factory in Thornaby; a children soft play area. I had seen this on Facebook probably around a year ago now and although I’ve always wanted to go, Thornaby is about a 45min drive from my house and seemed a long way to go to play in the soft play. This week I was lucky enough to win two tickets to attend the Grown Up Play Factory on Facebook which definitely justified the journey.
The event is held 7-9pm once per month or so. I had seen previous events where they had sold out of tickets so I was quite surprised how quiet our session was; altogether there were 12 people. When we got there we signed some forms and were told we could just get going. There were no restrictions on any areas we could use, but the go-karts were locked up.
Initially, the play area looked pretty big with two big slides and one toddler slide; which to be fair wasn’t much smaller. Me and my friend Sara set off from different areas and met at the top of the slide, we were instantly tired haha it is really quite a workout!
We played for roughly 15minutes when there was then an announcement that the games were starting and we were to meet on the “pitch” which was a little area up in the play area where games could be played. We were playing dodgeball. It was kind of awkward playing because there were 12 of us there, but other than one big group, everybody else was just in pairs and it was weird. We played two games and slowly disbanded. The staff had said they would also be hosting “time trial” races after giving everybody a little bit of free time.
After dodgeball I went to buy a drink and overheard the staff member complaining that people didn’t want to play the games. I can see both sides of this, as a customer I felt awkward being thrown together with random strangers when we weren’t expecting it so it was awkward and I wasn’t sure I wanted to play. But at the same time, in hindsight, two hours is quite a long time to just play freely.
We played for a little longer and two people left. The lights were turned off and some coloured flashing lights put on. I think it was supposed to give a party atmosphere but I guess the small number of people there and the size of the room made it fall a little flat.
However, the best part of the night was still to come! About an hour in, it was announced that if you wanted to play laser tag you should head upstairs for the game. All remaining ten customers headed up to play. We put our vests on; although it was quite difficult for Sara who had it on back to front because she is incapable, and grabbed our guns! We were informed we would be playing two games and to watch the video. I’m not going to lie at this point my expectations weren’t particularly high. But oh my goodness we had so much fun!
The first game we played was every person for themselves. There were 15seconds to get into the “arena” and hide. It wasn’t a huge space and all on one level, but there were lots of divides and hiding spaces. Throughout the game you could see your score on your gun and the position you were in. All other players could also tell who was currently the top player as their gun lit up a different colour… not to brag but that was me! Haha. The game lasted 20minutes and it was so much fun! I was literally sweating. After the game you came out of the arena and it detailed everybody’s score and shot accuracy. We had definitely bonded as a group through the game.
We had a quick refreshment break since we were all red hot. Then game number two commenced which was a team game. Blues vs Reds. Again it was a lot of fun and I think he camaraderie we had built during our first game really came through. We all had a good laugh, screamed a lot and burned a lot of calories! The game was again 20minutes.
It was almost a shame that once the session had finished we all wanted to do some more games with each other. I would suggest doing laser tag first to build that team spirit, but then I guess games like dodgeball would be boring. I can’t explain what would be the best way to make it work better, but the laser tag was more definitely the highlight of our night; we are now looking at getting together a big group to have a laser tag party.
I really would recommend this for a fun night out with friends. A big group would definitely make it better than just a duo. But we left laughing either way. Hopefully only having 12 people there was a one off and other times will be busier!