Twinkle Kids Cafe is planning a new location at St Leonard’s, so we went along to the original with two young kids for a play…and to see what we can expect when doors open locally.
Twinkle Kids Café is planning to hit the North Shore in a big way, with a $550,000 development plan lodged with North Sydney Council. Founded in China, the kids cafe chain already has an Australian venue open, so we headed across town to check it out!
We arrived at the family-friendly Twinkle Premium Kids Café on a Saturday morning and were the first visitors.
My two children, aged five and three, immediately wanted to dive into the ball pit, but first we had to perform the COVID-safe QR scan check in, pop our shoes away (Twinkle is a socks-only venue, so please remember socks or you will need to purchase some at the front desk before entry) and grab our lanyards. Adult entry came with a coffee voucher for mum – score!
Twinkle Kids Cafe: Play areas
Inside, the cafe is a mixture of role play, physical play, free play with toys and games plus traditional cafe food and drink.
Role Play: Twinkle has a long rack of costumes from astronaut to ballerina and a range of wild wigs and accessories. There’s also dedicated role play areas, the Twinkle Hospital with stethoscope, bandages and doctors coats; and the Twinkle Grocer, with rows of plastic fruit and veg to pretend to buy, plus tiny carts for the miniature shoppers.
Physical play: The ball pit, needless to say, was a huge hit! There’s a generously-sized, shallow pool of lightweight balls in pastel colours with a steep double slide for whizzing into them (and softplay staircase providing an easy escape for those who change their mind at the top). The slide and ball pit are set into a huge, enclosed climbing frame with hanging ropes, rolling pillars and platforms with a second, curved slide providing an exit at the other end.
Freeplay: Kids loved ducking in and out of the cubby house, riding around on the ride-on cars, playing the miniature piano, using mini-tramps and bouncing on oversized balls. There’s stacks of toys, arranged loosely by age, and there’s a dedicated baby space with a low boundary wall around it where you’ll find rattles, puzzles and musical toys.
Food and drink
The cafe offers a meal menu, but you can also opt for lighter snacks and treats by ordering from the cabinet
- Full menu: Expect favourites like fish and chips, Caesar salad
- Snack menu: Banana bread, muffins, ice cream (served in a cone) fairy cakes, croissants, ham and cheese sandwiches
We ordered a mocha and two babycinos (which came with marshmallows!) and an excellent ham and cheese toastie
There’s also small shelved area of lunchboxes, model cars, sketchpads and other brightly coloured toys and children’s items.
A couple of less-impressive features:
- There’s no toilets inside the venue. While there is a baby change station with a bin for wipes, if your toddler (or you!) needs to go, you have to swipe out and leave via the electronic gate and go to the bathrooms about 20m down the walkway. In our case, this meant taking bags and my laptop, and that also meant losing my table.
- The centre was empty at 9am, but by 1030a, it was heaving! Be prepared for it to get busy, and if you’re a small group or solo, choose an individual table unless you are happy to share.
- Lastly, the cafe has recently installed win-a-prize claw machines, which may not be to everyone’s taste as kids may pester you, asking to be able to play.
Twinkle Premium Kids Cafe: Prices and Essential Details
- What: Premium Twinkle Kids Cafe
- Where: Currently Burwood, but coming soon to St Leonard’s (proposed St Leonard’s address below)
- Weekdays, prices are $9.99 per hour or $17.99 unlimited per child on weekdays
- Weekends and public holidays, $11.99 per hour or $24.99 unlimited per child
- Children under 12 months get free entry
- One family, the second child entry is half price
The pandemic in 2020 saw many play centres struggle, with the closure of Wannabees and Inflatable World Mt Kuring-gai. But more recently, the scene seems to be a resurgence in kids centres, with Kiddo Kove opening at Hornsby Westfield and parents raving about Kids World Playland at Macquarie Centre. So here’s hoping Twinkle thrives at St Leonard’s!