Role play captures imaginations


There’s no doubt about it; indoor play centres are a perennial family favourite and show no signs of losing popularity.

However, today’s demanding parents want more than “just” traditional indoor soft play, increasingly raising their expectations for the quality of facilities and services on offer.

We’ve observed a growing trend for immersive imaginary play centres, where kids act out a variety of roles ranging from shopkeepers and hairdressers, to police/fire services, and even popstars or DJs.

With an emphasis on education as well as fun; operators such as KidZania, The Postal Museum, Mattel Play! and 360 Play are leading the way in the imagination playcentre space, while the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre brand increased its popularity with a new opening in Birmingham last year.

The 2018 October half term saw Google searches for ‘kids role play’ hit their all-time peak, up 25% on the year before – this trend shows no signs of slowing down and is a top area to watch in 2019.


Indoor play is our single biggest site category, making up 18% of all listings


The number of searches for indoor play centres on our site in 2018


Google searches for "kids role play" were up 25% in October half term 2018, vs 2017

A young boy in firefighters costume
Top 10 Immersive Play of 2018

In the know...

Chris Devaney from Mattel Play! Liverpool

“Play is about more than just letting off energy. If it includes challenges, opportunities, contemplation and interaction then it becomes much more rewarding.  Mattel Play! Liverpool allows children to decide what they want to do, how to do it and who to do it with.  Parents can see their children exploring, being creative and engaging with others in an environment that drives imagination – making it much more than your traditional soft play.

Mattel Play! Liverpool is now approaching its 3rd birthday and we are looking to increase the interactivity and experience level within the attraction. Through utilising our characters, small group creative activities and external events that tie into each brand’s core messages, we can continue to grow Mattel Play! Liverpool.”

Chris Devaney, Operations Manager at Mattel Play! Liverpool Tweet

“Sorted!, our postal-themed children’s play area, is a brilliant space to exercise their imagination!

It supports imaginative play by creating safe spaces to explore. At Sorted!, little ones can try on uniforms, sort parcels and deliver mail, using role play to learn about the postal experience. We believe families love Sorted! as it’s an educational and fun day out that breaks away from the traditional soft play experience.

Most young children love role-playing and it really helps them to better understand the world around them – it is even part of the curriculum for nurseries and primary schools.”

Andy Richmond, Head of Exhibitions, Access & Learning at The Postal Museum Tweet

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