We were excited to hear that Chill Factore's Mini Moose Land had a make over, and the kids couldn't wait to try it out, especially when the days were getting hotter (the weather was enjoyable on the day we went, not so much now though!). As hubby has been working hard these days, we turned the day into a treat day for the kids (it was followed by a surprise visit to the cinema for The Minions movie, and McD happy meal that comes with a Minion toy after). Although we were a bit frustrated with waiting in a warm room at the beginning, we had a fantastic day overall.
|Follow the numbered station to collect jacket and pants (small hiring charge), and boots and helmet (free)|
|Happy and excited kids|
|22 minutes waiting time before our turn when this picture was taken|
|Bored, sweaty and starting to make a fuss (can't see the fuss here as they were posing for the camera)|
We were advised to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before our allocated fun time at Chill Factore for checking in and getting changed. As the first time we went, we arrived 5 minutes before our allocated time, and ended up going into the Mini Moose Land approximately 15 minutes late, we arrived exactly an hour earlier (website's advise). It was a warm day after all and it could be busy.
But there weren't as many people as expected during our allocated time, so there was no queue at the check in desk, nor at the jackets and pants, and boots and helmet sections. We took our time to change and the kids had time to go to the toilet too. And after dressing and re-dressing (note to self: put the kiddy pants on first before the jackets because of the straps) we still had half an hour spare. There was nothing else to do but wait. We waited near the entrance to the Mini Moose Land and Snow Park, and caught the occasional fresh cool air from inside when the doors opened, but it was so warm inside the changing room, the kids ended up drenched in their sweat. We removed their helmets and unzipped their jackets, but it felt silly to remove all the gear we just put on, seeing that there was about 20 minutes left.
5 minutes before our time to go in, I thought, well it's only 5 minutes, maybe they wouldn't mind letting us in a bit earlier to cool the kids down. The staff were really friendly last time we visited and especially sympathetic to younger kids. I wasn't expecting a definite yes, nor was I going to force my way in, because I know that there must be some guideline in place (hence we endured until the last 5 minutes), but it was still worth a try (especially when your kids kept saying "when can we go innn?!" "I'm soooo hooott" plus a *sad puppy face*).
The staff I spoke to told us that we had to wait for someone to take us inside, even if we've been before as the Mini Moose Land had a make over (I was assuming here that the collegue he's talking about was going to show us Mini Moose Land only). From what I can make out of what he said (he wasn't very clear), the person we were waiting for required time to change into his gear so we will have to wait for that 5 minutes. After that, when we go in, he will spend time talking us through the activities.
When the time came, the person we were waiting for was not in any specific gear at all. He was in exactly the clothing he was wearing already, plus a jacket. I'm not really sure what gear the staff who spoke to me was talking about. This guy lead us and a big group of others inside, but instead of going to the Mini Moose Land, he took us to the Snow Park next to the Mini Moose Land and started explaining about the activities there that does not concern us (it's exactly the same as when we last visited anyway).
By then I was extremely annoyed. I can understand a company's policy regarding going in on time (crowd control etc), but don't tell me something that isn't really a reason because that just sounded like you couldn't be bothered and just wanted us gone. I know that's definitely not in the staff's guideline because the other 2 staff I spoke to last time would have been kind even if they couldn't let us in.
Did I mentioned that he told us to just remove all the gears after I told him that my young children were getting fussy and really sweaty ("I know it's a bit early than our allocated time but I was wondering whether it is possible to let them in a bit earlier please?") 5 minutes before we were due to go in?
Thing is, we weren't the only ones complaining about the wait. There was a big group of kids, going as a party I guess after we finished our hour and went back to change, and we overheard them complaining about the wait and heat as well.
The only thing I can say is that, the reason why Chill Factore advise people to arrive an hour earlier, is because there is a chance that you are going during a really busy day and time, and all the queuing will take up time. You might require more equipment if you are skiing too.
But if you don't require Chill Factore's jackets and pants, nor boots (helmets are required especially for young children and in the Snow park area), you are doing the minimal (Mini Moose Land only, or Snow Park as well but no skiing), and there isn't any queues, then I would advise you to get the gear you need but do not change until the last 10 to 15 minutes. Or hang around outside the changing room where the shops are, while keeping an eye on possible queues and then judge what time you should go in and start collecting gears.
As soon as we got in, we went straight for Mini Moose Land (it is what we were here for after all). It was still empty (majority of the people are at the Snow Park and Skii slope, although this indoor snow playground is still very much appreciated for those who have young children, to make it possible to go out as a family) but more parents and toddlers started coming in about half an hour later.
Most of the equipment and activities in Mini Moose Land is the same, apart from the new tunnels and mini ice maze connected to it. The "donut go 'round" is gone though.
Like last time, Mini Moose Land is still much darker (I only upped the brightness a little so you can have a feel for it) than the Snow Park on its left and Skii slope on its right. I made a comment in my post last time we visited that it was too dark and a bit of light would be appreciated. But this time, it occurred to me that Chill Factore are being considerate and are protecting young children's developing eyes. There are times that children will be lying down on the snow on their back and looking directly up at the switched off spot lights. So I appreciated that the lights were switched off, even though I was tempted to "go into the light"! (It's a bit like how adults think that baby food are bland and they try to add more flavour to it, when it's actually perfect for the babies).
Anyway, the kids (including over aged Abby, who we told to move on when there were more toddlers arriving at the Mini Moose Land) had absolute fun especially in the tunnels. They were very slippery and it was quite funny watching the kids struggle to crawl in and out of the tunnels (they were laughing all the time). The maze was impressive because it was made with compact snow. Chill Factore's snow is made to remain powdery (no snowmen building I'm afraid) so I was wondering how they did it!
There are signs telling children not to climb on/ over the ice walls, which should be covered in a staff's tour I think, but parents should always keep an eye on their children anyway.
We think that the new additions to the Mini Moose Land are fantastic and hope that they are here to stay. It definitely gives children more things to do and explore.
Apart from the new Arctic Adventure area, the kids also had their usual fun doing other activities in the Mini Moose Land. The donut slide is definitely popular and I had to tell them to move on to other things to give other younger children a chance to have fun too.
For young children, 1 hour of snow fun is definitely enough. By this time Clay's glove has dropped twice and snow has gone into his wrists (and back of hubby and Abby's neck because of the snow throwing fun). My camera has also started to turn icy cold and I was a bit worried about it (you can take camera in at your own risk, but do be courteous and avoid other people especially children in your pictures).
Although we weren't very happy at the beginning, we have more experience now and will be judging our arrival and waiting times with care next time. I hope that my review can give you enough information as well so that you won't have to endure the warm wait.
We enjoyed our time in Mini Moose Land, and think that it'll be a great place to visit in this hot Summer. If you bring your own Winter outfits, it's only £5 to £6 per person (adults and children) to go in so it really is not bad at all. You can then visit the Trafford Centre for food, movies and shopping etc too.