Friday, June 4, 2010

The Woodlands Indoor Playground Rankings and Review

Dear Friends,
I have decided to compile a list of our local indoor playgrounds. I have ranked them in my order of preference with a brief description of each place. I hope to create a map with these spots soon. If you know of any more indoor playgounds in the area. Please email me and I will add them to the list. Most of these indoor playgrounds are part of fast food restaurants. Remember, I have a little one who is about turn 3, so I am completely biased to this age group! 

These are all my own opinions. Even though I speak negatively a little bit, I fully appreciate having all these options, and I understand how challenging it can be for businesses to create the perfect indoor play environment. 

Chick Fil A - Sawdust Rd. This indoor playground is the newest playground in the area. I ranked it number one for a few reasons. It is the most age appropriate for my little one. There is a bottom toddler area with an easy to climb section with a slide. I like the glass wall. Parents can easily sit on the other side and see everything that goes on. Because of the division of the play area, food is less likely to go into it, and that makes it cleaner. This is a small playground overall. It is the same set up as the Kuykendahl and 2920 Chick Fil A. This location also get's the number one spot because of the great customer service at Chick Fil A. (Free refills on drinks, free balloons for the asking, trade in kid's prize for ice cream, table toppers, etc..)

McDonalds - I45 near Rayford Sawdust - This one is easy for parents to climb up and to see inside from the outside. I like the big curvy table. There are a few computers with computer games. They have an under-area for toddlers. This play structure is easy to climb for all ages (ok, maybe one little push at a point, but the little ones can play on the bottom part). The kids can get a lot of exercise here. It is like an obstacle course. There is a bathroom right in the play area. This McDonalds is also relatively new and feels nice. 

McDonalds - Sterling Ridge Shopping Center - This elaborate play structure keeps my little ones attention. They have 2 separate ground level play areas. Negatives: My little one points to the locked doors and the alarm. He has climbed on the tables and benches more than once because they are right next to the play structure. This play structure is a little hard to see inside. The garbage can is a tempting to play with because it has a swinging door.

Burger King - Gosling and Research Forest - This is probably the best one for the youngest crowd and for the most protective parents. It is not high off the ground. You can pretty much see everything. You are right next door to the action. Parents can go in if they have to. Negatives: Probably the dirtiest feeling of the indoor playgrounds. Bad customer service. We spilled a drink at our table, told the people twice, and it wasn't cleaned up for 45 minutes. There is a door to the outside right next to the play structure, but the kids don't notice it. They do notice the swinging garbage can. 

Chick Fil A - Lake Woodlands -This play structure is hard for 2-3 year olds to climb up. It is also hard for parents to climb up. There isn't too much for little ones to do if they can't make it past those first steps besides a pretend car.

Chick Fil A - Alden Bridge Shopping Center From what I remember, this set up is the same as the one on Lake Woodlands.

Burger King - 242 and I45. This play structure is the hardest of them all to see inside. There is nothing for really little ones to do. This is probably one of the biggest play structures. There is a door that is open (not locked at all) directly to the parking lot from the play area. There is nothing on the ground floor for the kids to do. Lots of nice natural light from the outside. Feels nicer than the other burger king. Same dirty floor. I question when if ever the play structure has been cleaned. It is probably very hard for any adults to get inside. This one is probably one of the most fun, but it gets a low ranking because of all the negatives.

Incredible Pizza: For awhile, I was going to Incredible Pizza every Thursday ($5 all you can eat buffet, kids 3 and under eat free). I am so happy that a friend persuaded me to go. I thought "Conroe! That is so far!". It really isn't. Maybe 10 Minutes from the front of The Woodlands. Easy directions: I45N exit 84B. Go right at the light. You will see it on your left in the first shopping center. The rides vary in cost anywhere between $0.35 and $1.00. They give you a card so you don't have to keep track of tokens. I highly suggest registering your card in case you ever lose it. There are coupons in the Entertainment book for a free $5 game card with purchase of a buffet at regular price. Wednesday night after 4pm they do $11 buffet plus unlimited games (minus the ticket games and some of the big attractions). They also have birthday packages and private rooms. Wait, I haven't talked about the indoor play structure. In the toddler area, there is an indoor play structure. It is ok. About equal to all the others. The toddler room feels a little dingy because of the old carpet. When my little one was between 1 and 2, I would go with some friends. Pay $5 for lunch and get a $2 game card. The $2 game card was enough because I had the following strategy. Choo Choo for $0.60, merry go round for 3 kids at $0.60, Horse for $0.40, and skee ball for $0.35. Plus, free play in the toddler area, and pretend play pressing all the buttons. So, you see why we were regulars. Where else can you go for $7 for lunch (with drinks) plus entertainment in air conditioning? I also usually ate first, then played, then had dessert on the way out. They will let you order your own pizza if what you want isn't out there. They will even bring it to your table. Their salad bar is decent. I love their Hot Chocolate. If only Sweet Tomotoes would add a playground, they would win on favorite places! Lunch time isn't crowded. Mostly working people come for the inexpensive food, so the play area is empty.

Pump It Up - Probably one of the most popular places in The Woodlands to have a birthday party because they offer all inclusive packages for a reasonable fee. There are many different rooms with a variety of giant inflatables. Fun for all ages. Mostly child proof and well enclosed. The biggest danger are injuries from the other kids. Children under 2 get in free. 2 and over is $6. There are B1G1 coupons on and in the Entertainment book.They also have classes there that are about $10/class. No natural lighting. There is a humming noise because of the fans. I suggest making sure that all the kids are about the same age. Big kids don't mix well with little kids here. Limited hours. This one isn't ranked higher because of the fee, and we get bored after about 20 minutes. Probably better for the older kids. 

Chuck E Cheese - 242 and I45. Disgusting Pizza. At least they added a salad bar. I suggest eating somewhere else and just coming here to play. Week day mornings they are empty. This is a good place to go on Sunday mornings, too. Sign up for their mailing list and they offer a coupon for 100 tokens for $10! That is $0.10/token and all the rides and games only require one token. Stay away from the gambling sort of games, they eat up the tokens the fastest. You don't need prizes. You can buy better toys even at the dollar store. They have a free indoor play structure. They used to have a great one for little ones, but they took it away. They also took away some of the younger rides. The big play structure is hard for the under 2-3 crowd to get up. They can get lost up there away from the slide. You can mostly see what they are doing, but you can get to them yourself. I think Chuck E Cheese is a little overstimulating and under-educational. I definitely don't like going there when there is a crowd. I am not so patient at this sort of place. There are windows so natural light gets in, and it is well maintained. They do a stamp thing at the door to try to make sure that the kids leave with the same people they came with. They offer all sorts of coupons on their website. Shop around for the best coupon promotions. Type chuck e cheese coupons into google or fatwallet and see what comes up. 

The Woodlands Mall Tree - Inside The Woodlands Mall - This is probably the most dangerous of all the playgrounds because the big kids run all over the place and can easily trample little ones. It is easy for the kids to trip. The entrance to the playground is wide. The kids can easily run out, or sneak out by the elevator. They can even climb out over the seats. Parents really have to watch their kids here. There are quite a few blind spots so you have to keep moving around. I can see how a kid could also be taken by a predator since it is in the middle of the mall and there are so many people around. I also tease by calling it the "germ tree" because it also seems like it is never cleaned. This playground is also almost always crowded. I have heard about people coming in before the mall opens at 10am to go play here in order to beat the rush. They open the main mall doors early for walkers. 

Interestingly, most of these playgrounds (besides the germ tree) aren't busy most of the time during the day on weekdays. They seem to peak during the noon hour, after school, and around dinner time. Go check them out and tell me what you think! 


  1. I made a map of these spots!

    Check it out here!

  2. McDonalds-Kuykendahl at Louetta: Yesterday, we stopped by the indoor playground at the McDonalds on Kuykendahl at Louetta Rd. The playground was pretty elaborate. Lots of different levels and 2 main slides. This is a good playground for 2-5 year olds. There isn't anything to do for infants. The structure is pretty much just climbing up stairs to different levels and going down slides. There isn't much else. What got my attention was the size of it, and that you can see into it fairly well. The McDonalds itself was pretty old looking. When we were there, the AC was out in the play area. It wasn't too bad temperature wise because they had the doors to the rest of the McDs open so cool air was still coming in. If I had to choose, I would go down the street to the safari themed one instead because it felt fresher. This is a good one to go to for an active kid, especially if you have never been and you need a new place to go.

  3. I love Bouncin Bears! Think Pump It Up, but one big room where everything is new. They have more choices, too, than Pump It Up! I also like the natural light from the outside. This one is in Spring on 2920. 6526 FM 2920. Spring, TX 77379 They had a free night right before Thanksgiving.

    Open Jump Rates
    $5 (Ages 18mo - 6)
    $8 (Ages 7+)

    They are open most of the time. I would call to make sure they aren't booked up with a private party.

    Monday -Saturday 9am-8pm


  4. I rank it pretty high because it is new, clean, and close to my home. It is good for all kids that are Preschool age.

    Review of WonderWild From
    First, the positives:
    It is brand new so it feels nice and clean. All the equipment is clean.
    There is something for all ages.
    There is one giant inflatable obstacle course with a slide. 2 people can race to go through it.
    They have a multi-level play structure connected to slides. I like how their are bridges and varied ways to go.
    They have lots of soft things to climb on.
    There is an area with a pretend kitchen, wooden puzzles, ball pit, and manipulatives to play with.
    This is a great sensory stimulating environment.
    I like how it isn't connected to a restaurant
    I like the location. It is super close to me.

    More Positives:
    The staff was friendly, and we had complete freedom to do what we wanted in the play area.
    Nursing Chair and Changing Station in Women's bathroom.
    Music: I liked the music it was fun and energetic.

    Things we have seen before.
    You can climb the stairs to go up the climbing structure or you can go up a couple of multi-level towers similar to what we see at the Chick Fil A on Lake Woodlands. (These are definitely cleaner!)
    Soft Mats that turn into an obstacle course. Some of them were new to me, but most of them I had seen before at The Woodlands Rec Center for the Preschool meet and greet. (Cost: $1 only once a week, though).
    Ball Pit. Actually, the last ball pit I saw was at My Gym, but now they are closed.
    Giant inflatable (a different one, but down the street is Pump It Up and I am still really impressed with Bouncin' Bears when it comes to a place to go for inflatables.
    Melissa and Doug Puzzles. Love them!
    Play Kitchen. Reminds me of when we go to Lakeshore Learning to do crafts.
    3 lane slide. Reminds me of the slides at carnivals, just safer.

    Things I haven't seen before.
    Some of their soft climbing things like the mat that looks like swiss cheese and the ride ons.
    Some of their bridges.
    The two sit and spins attached to poles.
    Some of the obstacles up in the play structure.

    Shoe cubbies not obvious until pointed out.
    Men's bathroom hiding a bit.
    Standard get wet water fountain.
    Most of the floor has new carpet, but I wish it was padded or spongy in case someone falls on it.
    Normal Price Tag for Drop in play is $10/kid unless you get a membership.
    The space is a good size, but I hear that he Heights location is much bigger.

    Business ideas:
    They could sell snacky food for extra profit.
    They could also sell sensory merchandise similar to the play things there.

    We were there from 4-5 today, 7/28/2011, and it wasn't too busy. I didn't know what to expect after experiencing the week after The Woodlands Children's museum opened. So, try it out and leave a comment with your opinion!


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