The family-friendly Rhodes Waterside has a great free play area called The Monkey Bar playground that opened in 2017. It is a big step up from the well used previous Playland, that had been there since the shopping centre opened in 2004.
The Monkey Bar Playground is enclosed on 3 sides and has one non-gated entrance with seating available for parents. A sensible flooring choice of wipe-friendly plastic tile lines the play space. There is a mini obstacle course within this area for toddlers and a few other points of interest. My crawlers enjoyed climbing on the little car, playing with the busy boards and watching the shoppers go by through the low circular windows in the fence/wall.
The main event is the two spiralling towers of the playground joined over the escalators by a green tunnel and space windows. My almost 3 year old was quite comfortably able to scale the towers. They boasted ‘helicopter’ overhangs, various padded obstacles and a slippery dip. But wait, I hear you say. What if my child gets stuck? Well never fear, I have road tested this for you as well. When some sweet older kids realised I was calling my daughter down for lunch they offered her a hand. Suddenly her stubborn radar switched to high alert. She stood her ground. If you have ever wanted to see a woman with low flexibility who gave birth to twins less than 12 months ago navigate a toddler sized obstacle course in full public view, sorry, you missed it.
The good news (apart from the beautiful blonde angel mum who stayed with my babies) is that I made it up and down. Retrieving the toddler equivalent of Winston Churchill. The bad news? It was tight! Picture: almost-permanently-jammed-myself-between-two-spinning-car-wash-style-bumpers tight. I do not recommend it. Ground level is the safest bet for little ones at risk of getting stuck or not wanting to come down.
A Word of Caution
This is a fantastic playground if your child is in the age and ability sweet spot. They have considered how to use the space available and came up with a fun and interesting design. However, I attended on a weekday afternoon and the play area was quite full. Reports of weekend play have been that it was wildly busy. If you can’t make it during the week, it may prove wise to wait until the opening hype has worn off to see if the numbers level out. Very limited stroller space is available.
Food and Drink
There is a fantastic range of food options to choose from at Rhodes Waterside. You can find the list here. Coffee is available within steps of the play area. A newly renovated food court is one level up. IKEA offers affordable family meals and there are several popular restaurants within the complex for seated dining.
The Monkey Bar has hand sanitiser dispensers at the entry to the playground. Rhodes Waterside has several parent rooms available.
One near the food court/movies, one inside IKEA and one within a quick walk from the play area. In terms of practicality and cleanliness these facilities are well presented.
The breastfeeding spaces are private and comfortable. There is plenty of space for multiple people changing nappies plus bottle facilities, parent + child toilets and a basic fenced play area. BONUS: The cleaner re-cleaned the already spotless room while I was there.
Rhodes Shopping Centre also contains the IKEA “SMALAND” playspace for 3-9 year olds so you can shop for 1hr while they play. Reading Cinemas, located in the food court section, has crying rooms seating up to 7 in each of their main cinemas. This used to be our family’s personal favourite way to see a movie with a small infant. (but not now that the newborn nap phase is over!). The popular movies screened are not limited to kids titles. There is a baby change table IN THE ROOM which remains lit throughout the movie.
The Monkey Bar playground definitely has the cool factor. The faces of the kids who scaled the towers and peered down from the overhang windows say it has the fun-and-exciting factor as well. Watch out for huge crowds, especially on weekends, and the chance of a child becoming stuck if they can’t get back down alone.
The Monkey Bar playground is a big step up from the previous play area and a welcome play zone in a popular location. If your child is in the perfect age-and-ability range, The Monkey Bar playground could definitely become an instant family favourite.
Finding The Monkey Bar Playground
Rhodes Waterside has a large integrated parking complex. In busy periods the “sunshades” roof level generally has spaces available. Rhodes train station is less than 10 mins walk away, as is Rhodes Corporate Park where buses are available.