Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Playtown Mississauga: A Review

It was like trying to get into a nightclub but for toddlers. Located in a nondescript commercial strip in Mississauga (2170 Dunwin Drive, Unit 6 to be precise) is Playtown, one of the GTA's most popular indoor playgrounds. We've been trying to visit it for the past couple of months but our every attempt has been thwarted by Playtown hitting capacity, usually before we'd even left Toronto (it thankfully updates its Facebook page as soon as it's full).

Playtown's Main Street; photo from its website
But this past Sunday we had a plan: We would get up early, be on the road by 9am and get to Playtown no later than 9:30am, when it opened. The plan worked but barely. When we pulled into Playtown's parking lot at 9:29am and there was already a lineup. "Hurry, we need to get in there now," I told Husband as I watched other parents rapidly unloading their kids. When we got to the door, a sign was up that said that that they were at capacity until at least 12:45pm. We went in anyway. It turns out that the sign was a pro-active move on Playtown's part; it was hosting two birthday parties that day, one of which was a double-party that had probably two dozen kids as guests, and the staff knew that Playtown would soon hit capacity.

So was Playtown worth getting up early for? If you asked my daughter, I think she'd say "yes" (not that she can actually say "yes" yet).

Drive Baby, Drive
As the name implies, Playtown is a "town" where toddlers and little kids can engage in all kids of make-believe play. The bulk of the town is set up along a main street that is divide into different themed buildings that are thankfully large enough to accommodate multiple children and their parents. Just a few of the many buildings are: A furnished house, a construction site, a beauty parlour where hair can be styled, a theatre filled with play costumes and a 50s-era diner complete with a till to cash out diners. There are also a few play tables, several old-school metal cars that kids can drive around (and that can be "filled up" at the gas station) and a separate, fenced-in zone where kids can go wild on a bunch of PlasmaCars.

It's not a huge space but there is plenty of room for kids to move and play. And because there are so many different buildings, there is bound to be at least one area that interests your child.

But while Playtown is definitely a fun place, it's also can be rather hectic. When we first arrived, it was just on the verge of being busy. Then at 10am, as the birthday parties started, it quickly went from verge-of-busy to packed to chaotic. I didn't mind it but by 11:30am, my daughter had clearly had enough of the noise and the other children. "She's becoming mean," Husband said as Daughter stole a stuffed toy away from a little girl inside the vet office. As we left, we heard more than a couple other kids having melting downs; Playtown is fun but it can be very stimulating.

The Grocery Store
If I could make one change to Playtown it would be for it to have a separate quiet area where a kid could sit and chill out for a few minutes. There are plenty of benches scattered throughout the "town" but they are more for parents than a melting-down child. The lounge, where you can eat and drink (and watch the kids ride the PlasmaCars), also isn't quite appropriate for a toddler that just needs a quiet moment.

Speaking of that lounge, unlike some other indoor playgrounds, this one doesn't sell food or drinks so come prepared. Also make sure that you're wearing socks as neither shoes nor bare feet are allowed past the vestibule (socks are sold on site, just in case you do forget).

Rates and hours can be found here; when we went it was $7 for children 13 months - 23 months and $12 for those 2 to 12 years. Each child gets to bring in two adults for free. While no monthly pass is available, you can get an annual one for around $200. There is also the Playtown frequent visitor card that will get you a free visit after seven paid ones.

Would we visit Playtown again: Yes!

Should you and your kids visit Playtown: Yes but be prepared for a potential meltdown.

Getting Ready To Fight A Fire

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