We Tried It: Kids City Adventure Honolulu
Race bumper cars, bounce onto a Velcro wall and tackle a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course at this new indoor playground at Ward Village.
What: Kids City Adventure’s second location on O‘ahu
Who: Two moms and their rambunctious 4-year-old boys
Where: Ward Centre, in the former Bed, Bath & Beyond space
When: Wednesday afternoon during a media preview event
If you’ve experienced the Kids City Adventure in Kapolei, you have a taste of what a premium playground is all about. Well, you haven’t seen anything yet. The new location at Ward Village is eight times larger than the original location with 30,000 square feet on two levels. This place is massive! There is play equipment as far as the eye can see suited for keiki ages 10 months to 13 years. In fact, I counted 16 slides in the facility.
Constantly striving to tire-out our boys, Kids City was the perfect spot for a post-preschool mother-and-son playdate for Duke, his friend Trevor, and Trevor’s mom, Tiffany. When we walked in, I was caught off-guard by the transformation from the former cluttered retail store to a bright, open, modern space.
I must admit that after a year of avoiding indoor places, I was a bit nervous about airflow, cleanliness and safety. I was put at ease when I saw that Kids City is doing everything in their power to reduce this worry for parents. HEPA filtered air purifiers are affixed to the walls throughout the facility, hand sanitizing stations are placed strategically, and staff were constantly wiping surfaces as we played. Heads-up: Adults and children 5 years and up are required to wear face masks.
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The lower level houses the entrance, stroller parking area, lockers, three party rental spaces and a toddler play area designed for keiki under 5 years old. Our boys wanted to play on the “big stuff,” so we headed upstairs. Watching the boys sprint toward the play equipment reminded me of the running of the bulls in Spain (but without any trampling).
The first area that caught their eye was equipped with five trampolines, a foam pit, basketball hoop, climbing wall and Velcro wall in which kids don a jumpsuit, bounce on the trampoline, and stick to the wall. Duke and Trevor gravitated to the foam pit and repeatedly took turns jumping in while making the corresponding sound effects that only 4-year-old boys know.
Another attraction unique to the Ward Village location is the bumper car track. Keiki are given two tickets upon entry which grant them access to zoom and bump their hearts out in light-up bumper cars. Duke was game to test the course solo and quickly learned how to maneuver the turns with the controls.
Next up, for some sensory play, Duke interacted with the Paradise Sand Table which is illuminated by a projector screen into a prehistoric world of volcanoes and dinosaurs. He was fascinated by the lava flow, and I appreciated that the sticky Kinetic Sand didn’t get stuck to his hands!
From an adult perspective, I was in awe over the luxurious details like the adorable toddler-sized mid-century modern custom furniture in the make-believe play area, curtained nursing room outfitted with three plush armchairs, and massage chairs strategically placed so you can keep an eye on your child while relaxing. Tiffany and I had to try them out!
Before we knew it, we heard, “Hiyah!” The boys had found the Ninja Warrior obstacle course. They mimicked all the moves they’ve seen on Prime Video as they made their way through the webs, hanging rings, uneven floors and rollers.
With sweaty heads and flushed cheeks, the boys didn’t want to leave when our 2-hour session was up. In the end, it was the simple things that the boys liked best; jumping into the foam pit and basking in the bubbles of the ball pit. The moms agreed that our favorite part was knowing that all this high-spirited play would cause our picky eaters to eat a hearty dinner and not give us trouble falling asleep at bedtime.
Our 8 Tips
1. Plan ahead. It’s a popular spot, so make your reservations online in advance. Currently, the facility is operating at 30% capacity due to COVID-19 protocols.
2. Sign the waiver. Do your keiki a favor and sign the waiver online in advance, so they won’t have to wait an extra second to get to playing. Follow the link from your reservation confirmation email to the waiver form.
3. Fuel up beforehand. A snack bar is in the works to serve up kid-friendly fuel like cool drinks and musubi, but in the meantime you’ll want to make sure their tummies are full before arriving. No outside food and drink are allowed, except for personal water bottles and baby’s milk.
4. Bring dollar bills. No, it’s not what you’re thinking! It’s for the massage chairs. The first 30 seconds of kneading is free, but you’ll need to add cash to keep the relaxation going.
5. Wear a fanny pack. Bring back the ‘80s with a fanny pack to keep your phone and valuables with you while you play. You will stash all other bags and shoes in the lockers at the entrance. Adults should wear socks and keiki go barefoot (or wear grip socks).
6. Bring a change of clothes. The water table play stations are irresistible, so you’ll want to bring a dry outfit for your little one.
7. Multi-task. Hallelujah–there is free wifi! Depending on the age and ability of your child, you can set-up your laptop at a table adjacent to the play areas to work while your child plays.
8. Snap a photo. Hands down, the best Instagram photo op is the jumbo white slide in which your whole family can slide down together into a sea of balls.
Admission starts at $22 per child, plus $5 for the accompanying adult for a two-hour session and goes up to $45 for five hours. Monthly memberships are available for weekday play. Private party room rentals start at $400 plus $30 per child and $5 per adult.