By: Fleur Michell
If you have young kids and think you can’t possibly fit more Peppa Pig into your life, then you have another thing coming – literally.
Peppa Pig Playdate is a new super-sized interactive experience where Peppa’s world is set out on a massive floor space and has already got rave reviews from kids and parents alike at early sneak peaks.
Going one step further from the traditional kids’ live show, the set, which was purpose built in Melbourne, features a number of areas where kids can freely play and interact. The event is a world-first premiere for the Peppa Pig brand and will tour Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney during the summer school holidays and Perth and Adelaide during the April 2017 school holidays.
The lucky kids who have been invited to an exclusive preview in Melbourne, are in a state of excitement and wonder as they run around. The sets look exactly like they do on the show – you really do feel like you’re walking through the cartoon on a gigantic scale.
Causing some of the loudest squeals of delight is the Muddy Puddles attraction – a large inflatable jumping area. “I love Peppa because she jumps in muddy puddles and I like to do that too!” laughs an excited Quincy Rose, 5, between jumps. Equally popular is Grandpa Pig’s Train Ride which circles around the arena.
Blissfully for parents, the experience is fairly stress free. Helpful assistants are positioned everywhere, setting up tricycle races at the Big Pond, or organising colouring-in and music playing in the Craft and Music Room – a replica of Peppa’s school room.
Another major attraction is Peppa’s House. Inside assistants help kids recycle bottles into bins, which refreshingly proves very popular – especially amongst the older kids.
After 20 minutes of play it’s time for the stage show. Although the kids have the option to continue playing, the sight of a mega-sized Peppa and George singing songs is too hard to resist with all eyes looking on adoringly. The show is a short and sweet 10 minutes long, and encourages kids to resume playing afterwards.
The beauty of this is that unlike traditional stage shows, which tend to have long periods where kids are fidgeting in their seats howling for snacks as they wait for the action to begin, kids here can amuse themselves both before and after the performance.
When you enter the event you are assigned a Playdate time. This is when you and your kids are ushered into either the Museum, the Fire Station or the Library for the ultimate highlight – your kids’ very own meet and greet playdate with Peppa herself. Here they can cuddle up to Peppa and pose for as many photos as your Facebook feed can handle.
The kids’ faces say it all – totally star struck. It’s a great idea. Usually at kids’ shows there’s the awkward bit at the end where only VIP ticket holders get to meet the show’s star. However here everyone gets their special moment with Peppa.
After about an hour and a half most families are happily heading for home. There’s been no tears, meltdowns or whingeing from anyone – including the parents.
Popular actress and singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte was one such happy mum. “It’s a really entertaining experience,” she says. “My son Hendrix is three and my daughter Harper is six and I liked how they both had a great time doing everything – from the bike rides at the Big Pond to the colouring-in in the Craft Room to watching the show. I loved how they could just run around and actually get involved. Plus they were very excited to meet Peppa during their playdate. They thought that was amazing, it’s probably the highlight of their whole year!”
Natalie says she was impressed by the show’s innovation. “I’m always trying to find stuff to take my kids to and be a part of. I come from the theatre world myself so to incorporate a live show and all this action as well is just awesome.”
Radio presenter Fifi Box who took her daughter Beatrix, 4, along agreed. “This is a great event for kids because there’s just so much for them to do,” she says. “I couldn’t get my daughter off the slide in the Dinosaur Playground – she loved it! It’s a fantastic concept.”
Anton Berezin, managing director of show producers TEG Life Like Touring, says the event has been in development for two years. “It’s been a real labour of love and is one of the first interactive shows that’s been created for the pre-school audience,” he says. “This is really the future for live events. We hope that the show will eventually tour overseas in South East Asia, China and beyond.”
Anton says it was a thrill to see how much kids enjoyed themselves. “Our intention was to put the kids into the Peppa story itself and they’ve really loved it,” he says. “But what’s really fulfilling is seeing the smiles on parents’ faces. You want to be a hero to your kids and provide them with great experiences. We’re helping parents achieve that as well as giving them a break from their everyday parental routines. It’s awesome to do something special with your kids and create memories that will brighten their lives which they’ll remember in years to come.”
Peppa Pig Playdate Tour Dates
January 4 to 9 – Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
January 14 to 19 – Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
January 24 to 29 – Sydney International Convention Centre
April 8 to 12 – Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
April 20 to 23 – Adelaide Showgrounds