Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Makes a Great Play Area?

Chanel needed a little retail therapy the other day so she packed up the kids and met me at the local Burger King as I came home from work. Even though we rarely eat anything there beyond an occasional milk shake, the kids love the play area and it had just been reopened after a remodel so we were intrigued with what changes may have come.

I got there first and waited for the rest of the family to arrive. Once there, Chanel and I switched cars, I switched shoes (steel toes in BK? not if I need to climb up after someone!), and we all waved as Mama drove away. No tears today because we're at BK!

We walk in and sure enough, there are changes. The room is bigger than I remember, the padding seems fresh, and the padded floor area looks new. What catches the boys' attention most at first, though, even before their shoes came off, was the flat screen TV showing Toy Story 3. Hmm...

They get past that pretty quickly because it's mounted so high that they have to strain to see the image that's poor to begin with from the sun glare coming in, and moved on to the touched-up contraption of steps, webs, and tubes. After climbing for a while and sliding for considerably less, another family comes in: a pair of older boys, perhaps 8 and 10, with their mother.

On the plus side (you don't know that's a pun yet), these boys were not going to be a threat to mine as they passed through the tubes of the climbing contraption. It was pretty clear that these boys didn't come to BK just for the play area and were unlikely to go anywhere near the physically challenging area of the room. Their mom sat at the end of the room where she had a better view of the TV and made herself comfortable taking up the entire bench of the table for "4" while she waited for the food to be delivered.

Side note: when did you stop having to wait for your own food at the counter? It's not fast enough? "Ma'am, this'll be a minute or two, you'll want to sit down." Seriously, that standing was valuable physical exertion that woman desperately needed.

Meanwhile, the older boys fire up the Wii, yes, the Wii, that is attached to the other flat screen TV in the play area. This, unfortunately, does put a stop to the climbing, sliding, running, and spinning that normally takes place in such areas. The magnetic draw of Mariokart, even to be just a spectator, is too strong for toddlers. After the players' food was brought out and they had to rejoin their mother, the demo still had a strong enough attraction to hold the attention of two otherwise physically active little boys.

Good job BK. You ruined your kids' area. I know we'll miss it more than we'll miss the milkshakes.
Nutrition facts about BK Milkshake

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