What?: So toddler trampolining appears to be a thing now, with freejump parks offering dedicated under-5s sessions suddenly springing up all over the shop. There’s Little O at Oxygen Freejumping, which has branches in Acton and Croydon; Mini Flippers at Flip Out, which exists in East Ham, Brent Cross and Wandsworth; and, as of October, Little Zappers at ZAPspace in Stratford. We decided to try out the latter for no reason other than the others are all a pain in the arse to get to – probably because they all have to be in locations remote enough for it not to cost a zillion pounds a month to rent a hangar-like space.
First of all, the website asks that you arrive 30 minutes before your session starts – presumably because they estimate that that’s how long it takes to change into your jump socks and watch the three-minute safety video. We arrived one minute after our session started and we were absolutely fine. The bouncer types on the door to the trampolines won’t let you in until your session starts anyway, though you can always kill time in the tiny peoples’ soft play or grab some brunch in the diner-style cafe.
As with most trampoline parks, ZAPspace makes you buy a pair of jump socks – because, let’s face it, it would be totally gross if you just rented them for an hour then gave them back like you do when you go bowling. Everyone must have the socks, even babies -although I really wouldn’t recommend taking actual babies to this as they will get very squashed. Once you have the socks they’re yours for the entirety of your trampolining career (and if you decide you hate trampolining they make quite good slipper socks), though you must trade in any socks you’ve purchased from another park for ZAPspace socks (and you can’t just wear Totes).
After you’ve changed into your sticky-bottomed socks, signed a waiver promising not to sue ZAPspace if you accidentally die on their premises and watched Captain Obvious’s guide to using a trampoline you’re adorned with a paper wristband and hand stamp and sent on your merry way. The main jump space offers three storeys of trampolining fun, with individual jump pads at the bottom, a ‘Battle Beam’ complete with foam-brick pit on the mezzanine level, and a sort of trampoline halfpipe situation at the very top, accessed via an enormous netted scaffold. There is also a terrifying-looking drop slide but thankfully that’s closed off for these sessions so you don’t have to worry about your child trying to coax you onto it and paralysing you in the process.
Bab Dad and I loved this place but Bab wasn’t totally sold, despite having enjoyed trampolines in countless other soft-play centres, and found much more excitement in tidying the ball pool and wearing out the plastic on the anticlimactic baby slide in the free soft-play area than using the actual jump space. Admittedly parts of the trampoline structure might be slightly lost on younger toddlers – the Battle Beam in particular – and the scaffold was a bit of a nightmare to navigate with a child who’s too big to be carried but too small to climb themselves, but you have to admit that this is infinitely more exciting for parents than a generic soft-play session, and one the kids will (hopefully) grow into if they don’t love it right away.
Where and When?: Little Zappers sessions last one hour and take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 9am, 10am and 11am, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9am and 10am.
Best Bits: The staff seemed pretty on the ball and everything felt safe, friendly and well-organised.
Worst Bits: It was busy and we were constantly competing for trampolines thanks to the (actually very sensible) one-child-per-trampoline rule.
Facilities: Step-free access, lockers (that don’t actually lock), buggy parking, baby changing, toilets, on-site restaurant/cafe, soft play for tinies.
Cost: £8 per child, free for accompanying adults. Jump socks cost £2 per pair and both kids and adults must wear them, though once you’ve bought them they’re yours to keep. You can also buy a 10-session multi-pass for £39.95.
Would We Come Back?: Yes, though probably when Bab is a bit older and has mastered the art of jumping.
Bab lollops around at Little Zappers, ZAPspace, Stratford.