Indoor playgrounds are getting popular these days, but how do you decide which to bring your little one to? I recently brought Gordon to Happy Castle, and he had so much fun that I decided I have to share it with all of you!
ABOUT HAPPY CASTLE
Happy Castle is an indoor playground that started in 2016. With 5 different types of play areas for you to choose from - scenario play area, cassia seed playground, bricks land, million balls and even arts & craft - it's guaranteed to help your child train their motor skills and develop intelligence through tactile stimulation, learning and playing at the same time!
HYGIENE AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Something that all parents think about when bringing their children to public play areas is how safe and clean the place is. In fact, this was the main reason that I didn't really like bringing Gordon to playgrounds! However, I allowed Gordon to try Happy Castle because they have good hygiene protocols.
#1 MONTHLY SANITATION PRACTICES
Happy Castle engages a company to sanitize the play area and change the seeds in their play area once every month! The service is done in mid-end month so I bring Gordon there at the end of the month to beginning of the next month.
#2 HYGIENE PRACTICES
At every Happy Castle outlet, the staff would get you and your child to check your temperature and sanitize your hands before going into the play area. Each person (young or old) who enters the play area is also required to have socks on! I bring Gordon's socks from home but use the free ones that Happy Castle provides for myself.
#3 FOAM STRUCTURES & SAFETY GATES
There are foam mats all over the play area, and all the "walls" within area are padded with foam to reduce injuries. As for safety, there are also safety gates at the entrances of each play area!
VISITING INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS
When is the best time to visit indoor playgrounds? Here are some tips which you may find useful when planning your schedule:
- Ensure that your child is well-rested and well-fed before going to play areas
(This will decrease their "appetite" to bite things at the area, and keep them energized for longer play periods!)
- Visit during non-peak periods like weekday mornings and afternoons
(Lesser kids will mean you have more space and freedom to play, and less chances of catching any viruses from others)
- Research on the sanitation practices and periods before making a trip (Don't make a wasted trip there if they're closed for sanitation, and go around one week after their sanitation practices to minimize exposure to chemicals but it won't be as contaminated)
What should I bring when visiting indoor play areas? These are my must-have packing list that I bring when going out to play:
- extra set of clothes (especially during water/active play)
- 2 pieces of diapers (one for changing after playtime, another for emergencies!)
- water bottle (avoid having to buy expensive bottled water or canned drinks, refillable at nursing rooms for parents)
- food/snacks (if it'll clash with meal times, please bring food along in thermal jars - and bring some snacks like biscuits, crackers or bread in case the little one gets fussy!)
- a pair of socks (for kids and adults, most play areas require socks to be worn - save some money from having to buy socks at the outlets just to play there)
- hand sanitizers and wet wipes (to wipe down after playing, minimize contact of bacteria)
HAPPY CASTLE @ WESTGATE - SCENARIO AREA (PRETEND PLAY)
I've been to Happy Castle's play areas at Westgate and Jurong Point, but I prefer the one at Westgate (Level 4!) because there's two different play areas - the scenario area and cassia seed playground. These play areas are separated by the escalator area, and both of them are relatively big - around two shopfront spaces! I'll be reviewing both areas at Westgate separately as they're slightly different.
I'd highly recommend this area if you don't have much toys at home, or if you're looking to find out what toys your little one is interested in before buying them. There are a total of 7 areas within this space that you can explore - a patisserie, burger shop, kitchen, marketplace, train set table, hospital and even a Hape piano - the best part is your little one gets to play with everything there!
Needless to say, Gordon loves playing there so much because we didn't have any toys at home on the first day he played there. Ater observing what he likes to play, I went to get those toys and a toy rack so he could have fun at home too - but it's still not as nice as being able to play at Happy Castle!
Although the play areas allow parents to sit outside and let the children play on their own, I think it's better if you're inside with them - not looking at your phones, but engaging in their play and taking photos along the way. It also helps when situations where you need to step in come around - like teaching your children how to share toys and basic manners when playing with others.
HAPPY CASTLE @ WESTGATE - CASSIA SEED PLAYGROUND
This area is more suitable for those that are around 1 year old and above, mainly because the seeds are small so you either need high parental supervision or a child that doesn't put them in their mouths. I'd highly recommend parents to join your child in this, to experience what it feels like and to supervise your child - I promise it'll be a fun experience for you too!
Our first experience with this was at Jurong Point because I happened to chance upon it while running my errands. When Gordon first went in, he was so afraid of the seeds that he didn't even want to come down and step on it. Instead of leaving the play area, I spent some time carrying him on my lap and trying to get him to interact with the seeds - putting some on my palm, letting him feel it with his hands and legs. By the time I wanted to give up and leave, he was struggling to come down and then went on to spend one hour playing there :O
In this play area, there's a ton of toys that the children can play with - toy trucks, buckets, coloured ball pit, slides and even sand toys like shovels, rakes and sieves! It's a literal wonderland, and they're all set upon the cassia seeds. Don't worry, the seeds that they used have health benefits and are safe for newborns. While they can't be sanitized at the play area, the seeds are replaced every month!
For the little ones who are still wearing diapers/are just toilet-trained, it'll be best for you to give them a fresh diaper change before going to play - you can be charged if the seeds get dirtied by pee, vomit or poop because they won't be able to be used again. A dry, clean diaper also makes the little ones more comfortable when playing!
If you compare the seeds above, you'd see that they're of different colours - that's because they're different seeds! Happy Castle recently started using hawthorn seeds for the play areas, and they're about twice the size of cassia seeds - the only down side is that it's quite prickly to step on for an adult (they're fine when you sit and play with them!), but the kids don't seem to mind. Gordon had his own socks on so he was more protected than I am :X
PRICING AND PACKAGES
Are you interested in letting your little one try out Happy Castle? I think it's a lot more affordable than those exclusive indoor playground - but I'd let you decide!
The regular rates are $5 for 15 minutes and $11 for 1 hour, but they have promotional packages at $78 for 10 hours and $140 for 20 hours. At first, I was hesitating a lot on whether to let Gordon play, but he enjoyed himself so much that I ended up signing for the $78 package for 10 hours! That's $7.80/hour of fun.
There's NO expiry date for the package, and they keep track of how much time you spend and deduct accordingly in your membership card. You can share your pass with someone else, and kids can play it until they're 12 years old (though I think most kids after lower primary would lose interest)!
Whenever I bring Gordon there, I'd take note of the time we entered so that we can play a full hour and then leave on time - that means we can use the pass for 10 days. Of course, you can play any amount of time you want, even 5 minutes is okay too! I set it at one hour so that Gordon can get accustomed to the area, explore everything and have enough fun to enjoy himself, but not until he gets exhausted and fussy.
HAPPY CASTLE LOCATIONS
Now that you read my review on Happy Castle and know how much it costs, I should probably tell you where to find them too! Let your little one learn through play at these outlets:
Westgate (cassia seed playground, scenario area)
3 Gateway Drive #04-K2/K3 Singapore 608532
City Square Mall (cassia seed playground)
180 Kitchener Road #04-22 Singapore 208539
Jurong Point (cassia seed playground)
1 Jurong West Central 2 #B1-108 Singapore 648886
The Seletar Mall (million balls, cassia seed playground, bricks land)
33 Sengkang West Ave #03-K1/K2/K3 Singapore 797653