Once you discover Discover, you’ll be torn between telling everyone about it and keeping it all to yourself. This place is a rare find: a simple, but magical spot for storytelling and fun, which is typically blissfully uncrowded.
At Discover, children aged up to eleven can join Hootah – a baby space-monster – on a multi-sensory journey. There is an indoor Story Trail and an outdoor Story Garden where they can explore secret caves, an enchanted forest, a dragon tower and hidey-holes freely, or they can just sit quietly and create. Not everything at Discover is accessible for a child in a wheelchair, but when it is possible to trip-trap over a sparkly river, make squelches and giggles with polka dot sounds, dress up as a fairytale character, create a spoon-puppet, take off in the Lollipopter, and tinkle in the sensory garden, few children will feel like they are missing out on anything. Discover also puts on a host of engaging story-building events and interactive exhibitions in the Story Studio. On Saturday mornings, Mighty Mega Sounds is an imaginative story-building club for children with special educational needs (aged 5 and over) and their siblings. You do need to register and pre-book.
Access around the centre is excellent: there is a step-free entrance with a hearing loop fitted, push-button self-opening doors, a lift to the Story Studio, a ramp into the Story Garden and an accessible toilet with grab-rails. The staff members are extremely welcoming and – because of their experience with a special educational needs club and community work – very comfortable with children of all abilities. There are four disabled parking bays at the back of Discover, accessed via Bridge Road, that are usually free at weekends. The Stratford Centre car park is close by but charges the full rate for disabled drivers. The nearest station is Stratford High Street on the DLR, which is only a couple of minutes from Discover. Alternatively Stratford station – on the DLR, Jubilee, Central and London Overground lines – is a ten-minute walk away and provides a good public transport option as it is completely accessible.
Food & drink: The open café space, near the entrance to the building, sells sandwiches and homemade cakes and ice creams. If you bring a picnic, you can eat outside while you watch the children play and slide down a monster’s tongue – it is not often that happens!