Dynamic Earth has always been on my list of places to visit, but I had never quite gotten round to it. I was never quite sure how to navigate there by car and I wasn’t quite sure Katie was old enough. However, when a fellow Mum from school suggested a play date there over half term – it was obvious that the time was right!
Dynamic Earth is probably the most accurate educational experience I’ve visited in some time. Years of Geography lessons started hurtling back towards me as the kids started playing with an exhibition designed to show how rock changes as it’s compressed. As the first voice-over began, I started to recall helping my University flatmate revise for her Geology exams – and in all honesty, I thought I had been a bit too tired to take any of it in!
Although there is an impressive amount that you can learn from Dynamic Earth, it was ideal for an exhausted Mum because everything was so interactive for the kids. You could really be passive as all the information was thrown at you in one form or another – it was pretty astonishing.
Effectively, you are taken through the story of planet Earth from the moment of it’s creation. Whilst there are some more traditional exhibits with information to read, there are far more buttons to press in these sections or glowing lights for the kids to look at. The exhibit of particular note was the large piece of an iceberg in the middle of the room that you were free to go touch!
As there were no restrictions on where the kids could go – it did make things much easier, and with doors shutting between each exhibit it was difficult for any of the kids to wander far. Of course, it was also tremendously helpful to have three other Mums there who were more awake than me!
The majority of the time is spent being shepherded into different rooms with big screens with various videos – the key thing being the multi-sensory nature of these rooms – in one room the ground shook whilst smoke was pumped out, in another we had a 4-D experience with wind and snow and finally, we reclined looking up at a 360 full dome film about asteroids. The kids were properly entranced by all of this and were engaged for at least two and half hours – pretty good going for three year olds!
Thomas was less impressed – despite the whole thing being one HUGE baby sensory experience, he really wanted to nap and I stupidly forgot to take the baby sling so he was staring at everything from his pram. Even when I tried to hide everything with a shade – the noise was pretty immense. There was a much older child who was very upset and I can imagine it would be a sensory overload for some kids.
After we had made our way round the museum we went off for lunch. I was really impressed with the variety of food on offer. There was a wide choice of hot meals, salad bowls, sandwiches, and picnic bags for the kids – many of which were included in a meal deal to help reduce cost.
After lunch we made our way down to the soft play – ‘ocean commotion’ – this wasn’t your typical soft play in that it was a single room with a ball pit, submarine, climbing wall and then a selection of shapes to climb over. What was very cool was the dim lighting which made it look like you were underwater – but I did think this made it very hard to assess how clean it was!
The additional downside was that soft play could only be reached through the gift shop – which made for a lot of pronouncements from Katie that she wanted to buy something. This would have all been fine and well if she had any money of her own!
Overall, I had thought it was quite pricey before going in – £12.50 for an adult and £7.95 for (3-15 year olds) – but given we spent about five hours there total – it doesn’t seem so bad. I noticed that a season ticket is only £20 for an adult and £15 for a child – whilst I’m not sure how often I’d want to go back this does seem like exceptional value.
I was very lucky as Mike was free to drop us off and pick us up but I was quite surprised by parking charges. Edinburgh is generally notorious for massively overpriced parking but £3 for the first three hours followed by £1.50 thereafter seems positively budget breaking!
Overall, I thought it was a perfect playdate. There was so much for the kids to be focused on that there was far less pressure over who was playing with who, or having to share etc. I am of course incredibly grateful to Una for leading the wee ones round as the rest of us navigated tiny lifts with pushchairs! Most important thing to note: take a sling!