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Children’s Activities

The Idol – Children’s soft play area

Transport yourself and your children into an imaginary world where babies and toddlers can play in a snakeskin ball pit and children can climb into the giant body of The Idol, look through its eyes and leap from the white-knuckle drop slide!

The Idol is a new soft play centre designed by theTurner-prize nominated artist, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. It is inspired by the Dagenham Idol – a 3000 year old figure found in Dagenham in 1922. The artist imaged what would happen if ancient and modern worlds came together and the result is a giant sculpture that is part robot, part ancient monument.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd was born in London in 1973. Her work is usually shown in galleries and includes sculpture, painting, film and live performance. She explores the things she finds interesting in the world like films, music, art and books. Chetwynd spent a year creating this soft play space. She worked closely with a soft play designer and met with children and parents in Barking to shape her ideas.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd was interviewed by children at Gascoigne Primary School about The Idol and her life as an artist for a film on show at Abbey Leisure Centre.

The Idol was commissioned by Create and funded by Barking and Dagenham Council and Arts Council England.

The Dagenham Idol can be seen at Valence House Museum in Dagenham.

The Idol party brochure (PDF, 1,552 kB)

The-Idol-character-stories (PDF, 386.77 kB)


Customer notice

Please note due to school holidays the term time entrance fee of £2 on Tuesday and Thursday will not be available between the following dates: Monday 3 April – Friday 21 April 2017.


Parties at the Idol

Book Now for your child’s party and call 020 8227 2698 to book your child’s place.



Please note from January 2017 we will be doing VIP parties at an earlier time at weekends 5.00 – 7.00pm.  So book a party early to avoid disappointment. Please check before going on 0208 227 2698.


The Idol
Abbey Leisure Centre
Bobby Moore Way
IG11 7HW
Call 020 8227 3338

Opening Times

Monday to Friday:
10am to 7pm (10am to 6pm Thursdays)

Saturday and Sunday:
9am to 6:30pm

Please note the Idol will close early on Bank Holiday Monday's at 4:00pm. Last entry will be at 3:30pm.

Fitness Suite

8am Saturdays
6.30am Wednesdays

Last admission for gym
is one hour before
closing time

Last admission for
swimming is 30 minutes
before the session ends