This afternoon I decided to visit an indoor play area called The Kids Shack in Wynberg, Cape Town. I hadn’t been around to the venue in a while since I visited it a few times with friends and their kids shortly after it had opened. It’s not because I’d been deliberately avoiding it or been disappointed by the venue in any way. I guess I’ve just been busy.
But today another venue that I frequent called The Playshed in Pinelands was closed and my son, Hayden (3) was keen to go out. I recalled that the Kids Shack had advertised a new play area for tots under the age of 18 months old on its Facebook page and I thought that now was the right time to pay it a visit, particularly as I would take Sebastian, my other son who’s ten months old, with me.
When I arrived at the Kids Shack it was busy. It looked like there were two kids parties on the go and the venue was bulging at the seems. The one corner where all the soft play padding is situated looked like a Tetris game that had gone horribly wrong and the ball pond had about five kids diving into it at once. The general play area was brimming with kids and as Hayden ran off among them I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep a good eye on him.
The ‘under 18 month’ section had some kids that were far older than 18 months in it but when I approached and put Sebastian in it they were good enough to leave the area without being asked. The chaos and the kids breaking the ‘section rule’ didn’t bother me in the slightest.
What did bother me, however, was the fact that I had to jump over the barrier three times to take items out of Sebastian’s hand before he ate or choked on them. The first was a small piece of gold party wrapper, the second was a lollipop stick with what looked like a grey piece of gum on the end and the third item was an unidentifiable piece of something small and black.
It got me thinking about the levels of cleanliness and obligations an indoor play area like the Kids Shack should aspire to and maintain. To be fair to them I had arrived 45 minutes before closing time and the place was helluva busy. There were so many kids – supervising their every move would be a near impossible task. I counted two members of staff – there could have been more but that’s all I took note of.
I had to pay R70 for the pleasure of having my kids play there. The first hour for kids over 2 costs R40, while the first hour for those under two costs R30. Thereafter, it’s a reasonable R50 for unlimited play time for kids aged under 2 and R60 of unlimited playtime for kids over 2. They take cash but they embrace technology too. You can pay with Snapscan, like I did, or they allow you to pay by EFT by using their computers before you leave the venue.
I’ve just messaged The Kids Shack about my experience today. It’s 11pm on a Saturday night. It’s the only time I have had a chance to blog today. They’re obviously closed now but I’d be interested in what their policy is regarding cleanliness, particularly for their under 18 month area during opening hours. How often do they give the place a quick once over? Once, twice – every hour?
Or is it perhaps unreasonable of me to comment about this? It was an hour before closing time after all. There were LOTS of kids and the place was clearly understaffed. Perhaps I’ll go there one morning as soon as their doors open. Perhaps when there are fewer kids, no parties on the go and less chaos, the staff go about checking the premises more often. Either way, I’ll be sure to make a mention of it if I do return.
After paying, I left and took the kids to Keurboom Park which is close to where I live. Again there were lots of children as it was a sunny day (22 degrees celsius in the Mother City). In my time at the park I saw some litter – one plastic bag, a paper plate and one ice cream spoon to be exact. Still, the park didn’t have anyone managing it at the time. It was a beautiful day so perhaps I should’ve rather spent the entire afternoon there instead. The kids had enjoyed both venues, despite the chaos. But at least the park was free and on a day like today, nothing can beat being outdoors in wintery Cape Town.
The Kids Shack’s response:
Thanks for letting us know that there was a problem in the toddler area. We have only just set it up again because when we had a zone like this previously we really struggled to keep older children out, despite the many signs urging parents not to allow their older children in. The zone is cleaned regularly, but when there are 2 parties on at the same time we agree it can get extremely hectic at The Kids Shack. It gets cleaned between parties when the morning party vacates, but the sweet wrappers were most likely left there by the afternoon party kids. We will definitely keep trying to keep a closer eye on that space. Not sure if you are able to pop in during the week at all, when it is and suitable for little kids. Once again, we apologise that you had a bad experience. Just so that you know the party times. ….are 10am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm. If you wish you are also more than welcome to WhatsApp first to find out what the party situation is before going through if you wish to miss the party chaos.
Nikki and Charlie