One rainy morning, as I was scouring Our Kids for ideas to keep *my* kids occupied, my eyes alit on a place called “The Kid Drop Zone“. Lots of new indoor play areas are cropping up around town, but this one had appeal because it had a flexible start time and no set end time. Most of the open gym times have specific windows (i.e. 9:30-11), which would have, at this point in the morning, required a minor frenzy to get everyone ready and out the door. I wasn’t up for that, so I told the kids – if YOU want to go somewhere fun, get your jobs done (get dressed, potty, brush teeth), and we will go somewhere neat. If you just want to goof off at home, that’s fine too. It was a rare morning where I refused to nag.
Lo & behold, without my Meanest Momma side kicking in, the kids actually got themselves together and pronounced themselves ready to have fun. We piled in the car made the trek out to Gainesville, VA (a good 30+ minutes from our house). We arrived at 11am, and I was again thankful for the flexible schedule.
The Kid Drop Zone is designed to be either a “stay and play” (parent w/kids) or a drop-off and play center. They are not licensed as day care, so there are limits as to how many hours a week a kid can be dropped off. I believe you can’t drop them off until they are at least two years old, so I that was never a consideration for me.
The play area is called The Nut House and it is one of the more unique set-ups I’ve seen. It’s designed to look like an over-sized house that kids can play in. It has a wide open “family room” with hollow cabinetry that kids can climb through, and lots of open space for kids to run, have pillow fights, and hop around on bouncy toys. They also have a square swing – similar to a tire swing, except it is a square platform that up to four kids can sit on. It is manned by staff so the swinging doesn’t get out of control or crash into other children.
Another section is set-up as a bedroom – it has a big bed suitable for jumping on, a huge dress-up closet (my daughter quickly donned a wedding dress and my son put on a Mater costume), and magnetic walls with lots of magnets to stick on. Adjacent to this room is a mini-room that is dark & padded. It connects to the main room and you have to climb through “windows” to get in.
The “high point” of the Nut House is the zip line & tube slide. They are accessible by either climbing a circular staircase or scrambling up a mattress-covered incline. Once at the top, kids can slide down the zip line or zoom through the speedy tube tunnel. My kids LOVED this and did it over and over and over (I loved how much it was wearing them out). I’ve heard that some parents have expressed concern about the safety of the zip line, but it seemed fine to me. It’s rigged so kids don’t actually zip very far before it stops and they drop off.
Parents can stay and play, or observe the kids from the big comfy couches in the play area, or they can escape to a separate room that is quiet and boasts of free WIFI.
Overall, we had a fun time, and I can see making the trek back out there again. We went on the last day of school for most of the counties in our area – so I’m not sure how crazy it is in the summer when older kids are there. My general impression of the facility was that it was clean and well run. There were four or five attendants working, each manning a separate area; kids seemed fairly well supervised. They also struck a good balance between playing with and engaging the kids, as well as enforcing the rules and keeping things safe.
The pricing is okay – a little expensive for me since they don’t give a price break for siblings – it is $5/hr/kid. However, when you sign up, they give you a brochure with coupons for additional discounts. If you drop off and leave, the prices are higher, I believe it’s $7/hr/kid. Another note: you must wear socks (adults too). If you don’t bring them, you must buy from them which will add to your cost.
|* approximate times|
Here’s the pictures from our outing: