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Hot spots for kids to play the day away : Child-friendly spaces offer opportunity to let imaginations run wild

Sept 14,2017
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Kids spend the afternoon playing at the Vaunce Trampoline Park in Jukjeon, Gyeonggi, one of the company’s four branches. [VAUNCE TRAMPOLINE PARK]
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Kinder Salon
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Kidamo
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Toy Kingdom Play
It wasn’t too long ago that the concept of kids cafes, indoor playgrounds for children that offer space for parents to rest and mingle, became hot spots for young families throughout the country.

Kids cafes and entertainment centers are springing up to cater to families with children, to give children a place where they can run and shout as much as they want while their parents can enjoy a decent meal at a standard cafe.

But, as more and more children grow up with these indoor amusement parks as part of the daily lives, their standards for what qualifies as a fun experience is going up as well. Newly opened kids cafes offer exciting attractions in the hopes of drawing children and their families looking for something different.

Kidamo, a new kids cafe opened in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul last week, is decorated to appeal not only to children but also to mothers who dream of having a fun time with a cup of coffee at a place that’s not made for kids. The center of the facility has marble tables with gold chairs, both of which are often seen at trendy cafes these days.

“We considered the mother’s taste since there are a limited number of places they can go to,” said Shin Myung-jin, the public relations team manager for the group that runs the recently opened cafe.

The group runs an art studio for children in Daejeon and decided to incorporate media art at the kids cafe so that they can stay longer and play games.

“They may not get many chances to see nature in the city, so through multimedia art technology we show forests, clouds, skies and mountains in different ways while they play in the ball pool or draw at the tables,” noted Shin.

Kinder Salon in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, opened in June with a small swimming pool outside for parents who want to have a more personal place to swim with their children.

“There are some parents who worry about taking their children to a big public swimming pool and bumping into others, so we make it small and even rent out the entire swimming pool terrace as well,” said an owner of Kinder Salon. Usually up to 10 children play together in the terrace area, and it costs 40,000 won ($35.46) per child to rent the entire swimming pool for three hours. The cafe will operate the swimming pool with warmer water until the end of this month.

The owner of Kinder Salon doesn’t sell any mass-produced cookies or candies, instead opting for more healthy snacks and food cooked on the spot.

During the summer, steamed corn, sweet potatoes and potatoes were available for after-swim snacks and more healthy seasonal snacks will be introduced in the fall.

Moms with active children should check out Vaunce Trampoline Park which has four branches in Korea: Banpo and Jamsil in southern Seoul, Jukjeon in Gyeonggi and Daegu.

Instead of just jumping up and down, the park sets up many different recreational activities, such as dodgeball, relay runs and hurdles. The availability of these programs vary based on age. The facility costs 15,000 won per hour per person and 11,000 won for those under the age of 8. Since the facility is bigger than other kids cafes, many moms come in groups with their kids.

“Bouncing on trampolines takes up a lot of energy, so kids get to exercise and use their muscles while they play,” said July Lee, communications manager for the park.

The facility is also considering adding more regular educational programs combining jumping with arts classes so that the center can be more than just a place to play.

The two facilities in Seoul are relatively smaller in size than the ones outside of Seoul and only for children, but adults can participate at the branches in Jukjeon and Daegu. The company plans to open another branch in Seoul, which will allow adults to jump, within the year.

Other educational classes are also popping up around Seoul that offer innovative ways for kids to learn how to read, how to paint or even how to cook. Dot Cafe in Magok, southwestern Seoul, offers a cooking class for 25,000 won and an art class for 20,000 won.

Aloha Joanne in Hannam-dong, central Seoul offers similar programs. Parents can come in groups with their kids’ friends or join an existing class.

Some hair salons have also installed kids cafes to entertain young ones who are a little wary of getting their hair cut. At Bella and Bello in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, an area filled with toys is available only for costumers. Kids can take a seat in a chair shaped like a car while a hair stylist quickly cuts their hair. The price for a haircut at these kid-friendly salons is a bit higher than average - around 25,000 won or more.

Parents who are curious what the future holds for their kids may get a glimpse at Toy Kingdom Play at the newly-opened Starfield Goyang in Gyeonggi. The play zone is about 3,600 square-meters of space decorated with different sections where children can try their hand at becoming a shopper, doctor or a firefighter.

Shopping carts, surgery tools and other props are all available to give children the opportunity to use their imaginations. They can also drive a mini excavator and start constructing the building of their dreams. The facility costs 24,000 won for two hours and 29,000 won for three hours.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]