Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kid's Cafes!

A kid's cafe is like a cleaner, nicer, alcohol-free version of Chuck E. Cheese. You always hear stories of parents getting drunk and in trouble with police at Chuck E. Cheese's in the USA but trust me, kid's cafes here are totally different!

We love kid's cafes and there are several in our area. We've been taking Thomas to them since he was 9 months old. The concept is generally a large play area with toys and blocks, a jungle gym/hamster cage/ball pit to climb and slid in, a cafe section for parents to relax and drink coffee at and several staff members to play with and moderately supervise the children. They tend to have a breastfeeding room and some infant bouncy chairs and exersaucers as well. It is a great place to go and relax with fellow parents, usually us mommies go but sometimes you see daddies there too. You can have some light snacks or order a meal and have a cup of coffee while your child runs around for 2 hours. It's a great way to turn your child into an exhausted, sweaty mess ready to fall asleep and give you a break! Hahaha...

My top tip for visiting cafes is to go early or go late!! You get 2 hours of play time in a cafe but most become crazy busy from around 1pm-5pm. Generally they open around 10am so an 11am start time is great. If you can't make it in the morning, after 6pm is usually slow. I'd also recommend NOT going on weekends unless you are going early or late for sure! It is so hectic then at every cafe and since fathers are usually off work the seating is even more limited as every child has both parents with them. Generally the cafes close at 9pm and offer food options so you can have dinner and relax while your child runs around like a maniac!

There are a few franchise cafes, Dalki Land, Little Bear and Little Prince, Chiro Chiro, etc. Little Bear, Chiro Chiro and Little Prince, are in our area, Bucheon/부천. Dalki Land has several locations, we've visited the Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포 and the Jamsil Olympic Park/잠실 올림픽공원.

Name: Little Bear Bucheon/부천점 (Charges for children over 12mths and for adults with a free drink.)
Best for: Young children under the age of 2.
Sorry, only have old pictures from Little Bear!

The cost for a child is 6,000won($6) and 4,000won($4) for an adult. But the adult gets a free drink-coffee, tea, fruit juice, etc.
Little Bear also offers arts and crafts activities once an hour for free which is nice. They have several ride on toys, a block area, a zip-line, a large climbing area, a ball room, a trampoline and a cool room with fans and balloons that small babies love. They also have a book nook and a Wii room.

The downside is they often cram as many families in as possible and they have no tables for you to sit at. This is common on weekends around 12-6pm so we avoid it then. Since it is across the street from us we've gone there the most over the past 2 years. They all know Thomas well and love to play with him, so we can easily spend 2 hours just relaxing while he runs around with the staff.

Name: Little Prince Bucheon/부천점 (A different style, charges for children over 12 months with a free drink, adults are free but you MUST buy a drink or food!)
Best for: Moms with babies and toddlers.
More old pictures, this time Little Prince! Sorry!

Adults are free and children cost 6,000won($6) but get a free organic juice. The catch is that they are a restaurant cafe, meaning that you MUST order from the menu! They do pride themselves on an MSG free and totally organic menu, but drinks start at 4,500won($4.50) and meals start at 12,000won($12). Each adult must order one item so it can add up fast if you are meeting friends.

They have a block area, floor piano, carousel swing and carousel, climbing area, mini train that goes in a circle under the climbing area and a small ball pit. They also have a system where they draw blinds down over the play area once every 3 hours and turn on UV lights to sanitize the whole place!
An interesting feature they offer is private rooms with large screen TVs to watch the CCTV on. This is great to sit and chat with friends and care for a young baby in. You can watch the older children play on the CCTV and the staff are good at watching them as well. They have exersaucers and bouncers for the babies too so it is easier to take the whole family here.
The other nice thing is that because it is a restaurant and you must order food, once the tables are full no more people can come in. It is often less busy inside as a result but if you arrive between 12-6pm you can often spend 1 hour waiting outside for a seat.
We've gone here a few times but we don't go as often because of the wait and the cost.

Name: I Like Dalki in Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포점 (Charges for children over 12mths and adults with a free drink.)
Best for: Older children, 5 and up.
The last of the old pictures, these are in I love Dalki!

Children are 10,000won($10) and they get 2 free train tickets. Adults are 5,000won ($5) and they get a free drink. The train is rather disappointing. It goes forward and then reverses back. Exciting at first but it lasts maybe 1 minute in total.
The actual play area here is small and cramped, not good for young children at all. It also gets very hot and overcrowded quickly. They have a ball pit with swings inside, a big bouncy area, two tube slides and a zip line.
Other than that there is a room with a giant teddy bear to bounce and climb on, but generally the older kids monopolize it and make it dangerous for toddlers. There is next to no staff to watch the kids and control the chaos here as well. There is a small reading and computer area, but nothing special. They have an art school you can pay extra to do activities in, but again, this is only really good for older kids.
Since Dalki is a big brand, they have many products available in a gift shop at the entrance which you must go past to get into the play center. Not too great for grabby toddlers! One cute thing they do offer is character cookies, in the shapes of Dalki and her friends' face. Overall the only good thing is the central location. We visited twice but have never wanted to go back.

Name: I Like Dalki Jamsil Olympic Park/잠실 올림픽공원점 (Charges for children over 12mths and adults with a free drink).
Best for: Day trips for the whole family with great food!
Nice newer pictures with the DSLR! I'll take more of the other cafes next time!

It is the same price as Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포 but there is no train!! It is the most expensive we've visited.

Children are 10,000won($10). Adults are 5,000won ($5) and they get a free drink.

This location is nice because it is in Olympic Park and so you can play outside and visit the park as well. Make a full day of it! They have a large restaurant area and offer a specialty menu of all natural and organic foods. The quality is very good, the food is delicious and healthy. They have the option to make tofu if you'd like as well.

The whole cafe is full of natural wood and they have some cute touches like airplanes and cars flying and driving around on the ceiling. The ballroom is suspended in the air. They also have a jumping area, zip line and tube slides just like in Times Square. Their reading area is larger and includes some games. Their art center is more integrated, it is an open concept and looked more interesting and suitable for younger ages. It was still very busy with minimal staff but it was more open, with lots of natural light. They had a small area with blocks and exersaucers for babies as well which Times Square was lacking.
If we want to have a nice day out, we may go back but it was quite a trip from our home in Bucheon.

Name: Chiro and Friends/부천 뉴코아점(Charges for children over 12mths with free tokens for coin-op rides and the train, charges for adults).
Best for: Zoning out on video games or TV.
Sorry no pictures of Bucheon of my own!Ilsan location.

This is probably the most disappointing Kid's Cafe in Bucheon. Children are 7,000won($7) and adults are 3000won($3). They do give you 4 tokens for the coin operated rides and train which is nice.

This kid's cafe has several locations, we've also visited one in Ilsan/일산. It is very basic, with a small climbing area and ball pit, a few ride on toys, a small playhouse with books inside, a few coin-op rides and a Wii/ TV theatre area which I HATE! I do NOT want to take my child to a kid's cafe only to have him sit and zone out with a TV show or Wii game!! It has a small train which you get to ride once or twice and it basically goes around in a circle 3-4 times.
There is so much wasted space, it feels half empty and the Bucheon location has the cafe with seats for parents tucked in the corner so if you sit down you can't see your kids! Ilsan at least was more open but they had a hallway and bathrooms behind a jumping area that kids could easily wander out of sight in. Both location have limited staff and the Ilsan location actually had a dangerous setup of a carousel and jumping area too close together. Our little friend almost got squished between them!

Name: Party Play Time in Home Plus/부천상동점. (Charges for children over 12mths, adults are free.)
Best for: EVERYTHING!! We love it!!

Only pictures of the party room at Party Play Time, sorry!
Last but not least is Party Play Time in our local Home Plus!! It is by far our favorite cafe to visit!

Children are 8,000won($8) and adults are free. There is no requirement to order food or drink here! So this makes it the most cost effective for both parents to go and have fun with the kids. They also restrict the number of children at any time, so while it can get busy it isn't too crazy.

This kid's cafe is probably twice the size of every other cafe. They have a train that kids and adults can ride on that actually goes in a large loop around half the cafe. They have a free art area with a real car-a MATIZ- that you can paint! There are paid art crafts as well. There is a large area full of blocks, puzzles, connector kits and a small house with kitchen goods and dinosaurs to play with. The ball pit here is inside the train loop and so the kids have to climb through a hamster tunnel setup to get inside. They also have a large bouncing area and a race track with cool little go-kart things to ride. They've got several electronic games such as a giant floor piano, dance grid, air hockey, video games, stationary bicycle video games, whack-a-mole and basketball shooting. In addition, they have some interesting electronic science activities like a magnifying glass TV, animal sounds, shapes making and some other things that I don't fully understand due to my lack of Korean. Best of all is a separate area with a mini ball pit, exersaucers and ride on toys for kids under 2! They have a lot of staff who are friendly and helpful.

Given the choice, Thomas will ask for this cafe anytime! They really do a great job watching over the kids and there is a small cafe inside where parents can have coffee and chat. They also offer some cooking activities like cookie art for a small extra fee.

Unfortunately we always have so much fun I have no pictures to share other than the party room, but I will next time!

I'll try and update this blog post later with nicer pictures and websites if I can.