The scorching hot days of summer aren't necessarily behind us this year, but wet fall days aren't too far away. In either instance, Eastside parents looking for indoor play options have three more spots to check out – courtesy of fellow parents who simply couldn't find the kind of play space they wanted with the kind of hours that suited them.
So they opened their own.
A blast for older kids: Funtastic Playtorium in Factoria
Right next to beloved KidsQuest Children's Museum in Bellevue's Factoria Mall, the Funtastic Playtorium opened its doors in mid-July. From the outside, passers-by can see young tots toddling on soft cushioned mats, stacking large foam blocks, scaling a mini rock wall and hopping on a giant floor piano. But the majority of the space is geared toward kids who would rather climb, run, slide and fire ball blasters.
Partner-owner Akash Choudhary said the vision for Playtorium is twofold: provide a space for older children to play without mowing down littler ones, and an option for parents who work during the week but might want to take their kids out on off hours or during the weekend. The facility is open seven days a week.
“There are only a few places that have a ball blaster like we have, and our playground is open to walk-ins," he said. "You don't need to be coming for a party in order to come in and play.”
Staff regularly circle the facility to clean surfaces and monitor behavior, but to ensure your little ones don't accidentally fall underfoot, caregivers are asked to accompany younger children when they want to enter the elevated maze complex — which is where the ball blasters are located. The toddler area, meant for those age 3 and under, is also largely policed by parents ensuring their own older kids aren't toppling over the younger tots.
If you go ...
Cost and hours: Admission is for two hours (though there is some flexibility and Choudhary admits that the policy is largely not enforced yet; also, if you leave before your time is up, you can return later in the day to finish). Cost: Kids under age 1 free; ages 1–2, $7.99; ages 3–10, $9.99. Adults free. (Value packs are available.) Open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Of note: There is generally a 20- to 30-minute wait to enter, even on weekdays. Everyone who enters the play area must wear socks, which are also available for purchase. Playtorium is looking into a different rate structure for those who may want to have unlimited entry for the future.
Food: Limited snacks including crackers and juice pouches for sale. You can bring in your own food, and there are stools and tables around the perimeter of the play space to sit and eat. No food in the play area.
Wifi: Choudhary said wifi is under construction and should be available in late fall.
Party packages: A party room is available for rental in the rear of the facility, and a variety of packages are offered ranging from $169 to $299 based on day of the week and number of kids. View Playtorium's website for details.
Find it: Funtastic Playtorium (Inside Factoria Mall), 4077 Factoria Square Mall SE, Suite F- 16., Bellevue. 425-533-6574. funtasticplaytorium.com
On the west side of Redmond Town Center, located conveniently near the Sensory Garden, Gymboree Play & Music and a Starbucks, is Giggle Jungle, a soft-surfaced, motorized play structure space that opened in mid-August.
Visitors will note the similarities to WiggleWorks Kids, down to the fan-propelled balloon room, giant Legos and pink/white/green/blue color scheme. But co-owner Hui Jin said there is no affiliation with the Crossroads Bellevue spot. Novel playthings include a giant swinging peanut ride, a dolphin merry-go-round and a rotating mini-climbing structure. A cushioned and protected area for younger tots sits in one corner by the window.
Giggle Jungle is the result of about a year of planning by four moms who live in Sammamish and Kirkland, Hui Jin, one of the owners, said. “It's hard to really find a place for our babies to play that is close by."
Due to a lack of retail space in Sammamish, they were enticed by the location and resources of Redmond Town Center. The women, all of whom have children born in 2012, became friends online in a parenting forum dedicated to Year of the Dragon babies. The kids are now between ages 2 and 3, the ideal age for enjoying Giggle Jungle (though the space is meant for all kids under 48 inches tall).
The space is small enough that it is easy to keep an eye on your child or children from the multiple stools available around the perimeter, but it's still a good idea to follow little ones more closely. Adults are forbidden from the upper-level structures. Staff also lend a hand, watching play and cleaning surfaces regularly. Stay tuned for additional events and specials, including parents night out, Jin said.
If you go ...
Cost and hours: $10 for the first child; $9 for additional siblings; for one, all-day unlimited visit. Kids under 1 and adults are free. Adults and children under age 1 free. Discounts passes available for multiple visits. Visit website for details. Open Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. To 7 p.m. Sunday.
Of note: Socks must be worn on play surfaces and are available for purchase.
Food: You can bring in food to eat. Giggle Jungle also has a limited assortment of crackers, dried fruits, juice and water for sale. No food in the play area.
Discounts: You can book a group of more than six kids, with a $3 discount per child. Giggle Jungle has also partnered with Fit4Mom across the street, so members should ask about discounts and amenities. “We want to provide a space not only for babies but for moms to connect with each other,” Jin said.
Party packages: Party packages range from $199 to $299 depending on day of week. See website for details.
Find It: Giggle Jungle, 7330 164th Ave. N.E., Ste. E165, Redmond. 425-558-3600. gigglejungle.com
Play and eat: Dabuda Playhouse and Cafe, Bellevue
Nestled behind a two-story strip mall complex in northeast Bellevue that houses businesses including Krav Maga Eastside Training Center and CosmoProf is Dabuda Playhouse and Cafe. Though the marquee along N.E. 20th Street indicates Dabuda is also in this complex, the play space is actually two buildings toward the back, behind Sea-Bird Electronics, Inc. Dabuda features both soft-surfaced motorized structures and elevated climbing apparatuses, a balloon room and slides. There are also several small rocking horses and toy cars that can be ridden and pushed around the main play floor.
Cool feature: Dabuda's elevated space is supported and fortified such that adults can accompany their children in play and/or rescue little ones.
One corner of the space, adorned with a long, low table and animal chairs, is set aside for a daily art activity, which currently occurs each day at 11 a.m.
The business, owned by Gordon and Callia Kwan. The latter describes herself as, “a typical mom looking for a place for my kids (ages 5 and 3), to hang out.” The Kwans continue to make operational tweaks based on customer feedback, ahead of a grand opening planned sometime in late September.
Though not directly connected, they also oversee space behind Dabuda that Callia has converted into four classrooms available for rental. Callia said she envisions the space will be ideal for classes that cater to kids, including art, yoga, music and language.
If you go ...
Cost: $10 per child full price, $9 for additional siblings, kids under 1 and adults are free. Check Dabuda's Facebook page for discounts and promotions. Admission allows for unlimited entry same day.
Attire: Socks must be worn on play surfaces by adults and kids.
Food: Dabuda prohibits outside food with the exception of baby formula and baby food. It is fastidiously peanut-free and offers a limited selection of moderately priced snacks foods including fruit cups, crackers, juice and water. It also carries a small selection of deli sandwiches and salads made by Sandwich House TRES.
In the interest of supporting local businesses, the Kwans have also partnered with a new Taiwanese restaurant called 12 Baskets Cafe. Patrons can place an order from Dabuda and staff will do complimentary pick-up. A dim sum platter is also available for order. But wait times can vary.
Wifi: In the works.
Find It: Dabuda Playhouse and Cafe, 13427 N.E. 20th St., Ste. 120. 425-305-7123. Website in the works; for check the Facebook page.
Open Hours: Varies. Check Facebook page for updates.