For a long time I had heard good things about the Wannabees Family Play Town at Frenchs Forest but it was just a bit too far to take my little ones to. When I found out they were opening a new centre closer to us I was super excited. So excited that we went twice in the first week when they opened last September at Westfield Hornsby!
Wannabees is a very different play centre to your traditional ones. There is not a slide, jumping castles or ball pit in sight. These have been replaced with a series of themed rooms where your child can pretend to be a firefighter, police officer, radio host, tv star, doctor, chef, vet or construction worker. Plus they can go to the shops, participate in a fashion parade or get their nails done. In each room there are things for your child to play with and role playing props. Like changing nappies on the babies in the hospital, collecting and delivering mail in the post office, laying tiles in a bathroom, making pizzas in the pizzeria and dressing up in the fashion shop.
Plus, you will find a few ride on cars and for bubs, a soft play room.
The child size city encourages imaginative play and let’s kids start to explore what they wanna be when they grow up. Wannabees is similar to the fantastic Early Start Discovery Space at Wollongong University, just on a smaller scale. For casual visits, I think it is best suited for kids 3-6yrs and ones that are happy to sit and play, rather then needing to run around. But I am sure there will be kids younger and older that will have a great time. I also think having a party there would suit a wider age group, particularly primary school kids.
Unfortunately there is no ‘active’ room or activity for kids to burn off energy. We lasted about 1.5hrs before I had to take my boys outside to run around. Thankfully there is a little play space in front of the Korean BBQ restaurant, which they enjoyed. We ate food that we brought and then headed back in for another play at Wannabees.
There is at least one staff member on duty to interact with the kids throughout Wannabees. And they normally lead different activities, such as putting out a fire or organising a fashion parade. They do also close and open rooms depending on how busy it is, so keep in mind that your child may not be able to access all rooms at all times.
When you arrive at Wannabees, you will be welcomed by a staff member at reception. You will also see their cafe to the side. Once you have paid, you go through a door into a large open space with seating and the themed rooms along the wall. From the seating you can see most of the rooms and it is a good spot to park prams.
You can order food and drinks from the cafe through a window inside the play centre. Or you can go through a gate, up the stairs to a seating area and then down into the cafe. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring outside food into Wannabees.
Wannabees Hornsby also has:
- three party rooms
- two karaoke rooms
- toilets with baby change facilities
- free wifi
- air conditioning
Wannabees Hornsby is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30am to 5pm. And Sunday from 10am to 5pm. They are closed on public holidays. It is best to check their Facebook page before heading out though as sometimes they close early or change their hours due to a private function.
Now the reason we stopped going to Wannabees after the opening few weeks is that their prices went up considerably. And were a lot more then for the Frenchs Forest centre, which we understand is larger (though older).
We are very excited that for the month of February 2018, they have dropped their price back to $15 for all day play, any day of the week!
Normally the price is:
- Weekdays (excluding school holidays): 1hr-$15, unlimited all day-$20. And Adults are $5 each.
- Weekends and school holidays: 1hr-$15, 2hrs-$20 or unlimited all day-$25. And Adults are $5 each.
From memory, babies are free but best check as I can’t find anything on their website. At this normal price, I personally don’t think visiting represents value for money, particularly with two or more kids. I understand it is due to their greater costs of being located at Westfield Hornsby. Wannabees also offer a drop and shop service.
Finding Wannabees at Westfield Hornsby
Be warned – it can be very tricky finding Wannabees at Westfield Hornsby if you don’t know the shopping centre and park in the wrong spot.
The easiest and most direct way to access by car Wannabees is via the Burdett Street Carpark. Drive in the left lane (so don’t go up the ramp) and go up to the yellow floor on level 2. Go to the end of the yellow level and walk through the doors. You will see Wannabees on your left. Keep in mind that parking is free for the first 3 hours only. And if you stay for a while, you will be in for a large parking cost. For example, 4hrs is $10 and 5.5hrs is $25! See the Westfield Hornsby website for a full list of the parking rates.
If you are already in Westfield Hornsby, head to the centre court where the fountain is. From here, go north on Hunter Street along the corridor out the front of the restaurants, including Kang Nam BBQ. Then go around to the right and you will see Wannabees opposite Fernwood Gym.
You can also get to Wannabees by train to Hornsby station, which is right near Westfield.