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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Monkey Joe's In Wheaton

Place: Monkey Joe's

Location: 286 E Geneva Rd, Wheaton. (On Geneva and Schmale, in the plaza with Jewel and Office Depot.)

Type of Place: Indoor inflatable playground

Secret: If you have toddlers or preschoolers, go during the day while most older kids are in school. That way your little guys won't be overwhelmed by all the rowdy big kids! Also, there is an area in front that is meant for toddlers, with some simple toys to play with. This is also a great area if you have a kid with sensory needs who needs a break once in a while!

Appropriate ages: Any kids who can walk, up to age 12. (They prohibit adults and other kids from bouncing on the inflatables.)

Cost: $8.00 per child on Monday through Thursday. $10.00 per child on Fridays and weekends. Adults are always free, infants who won't be playing are free, and kids two and under are just $5.00.

Today Pufferfish and I tried out Monkey Joe's in Wheaton. What is Monkey Joe's, you ask? Well, you know those inflatable jumpy things that are sometimes at carnivals and birthday parties? Imagine a huge room filled with the biggest jumpy things you've ever seen. That's Monkey Joe's!

Monkey Joe's is different from places like Jump Zone and Pump It Up, because those places have some walk-in hours but focus mostly on birthday parties. Monkey Joe's does host birthday parties, but walk-ins are welcome at any time that they're open. The cost is about the same as the other places, but your money is stretched further because you're allowed to stay as long as you want. You even get a wristband at the door, so you can leave for a while and come back later.

As you can see, Pufferfish loved this place. She was climbing and jumping around like, well, a monkey!
Pufferfish is at a good age, because she is limber and spunky enough to play on all of the giant inflatables, but she is little enough to still have some fun in the smaller ones. Here she is playing in the smaller bouncy house. She was pretending that the blown up animals were her pets!

One thing I liked about Monkey Joe's was that it was very well-lit and cheerful. We once visited a similar place for a birthday party, and it was very dark inside, like being in a warehouse. Monkey Joe's is lit up and painted with bright colors, which somehow made me feel more at ease about being there.

One thing I didn't like was that signs are posted everywhere saying that adults are prohibited from jumping or bouncing on the inflatables. Adults are allowed to go on the inflatables to "assist" children under four years old, but are not supposed to bounce. I know this is to keep teenagers and certain hyperactive adults from bouncing around like crazy people and putting everyone in danger. But it definitely makes this a place where parents are supposed to observe their children and not participate with them. Since Pufferfish was under four, I did "assist" her by going up the ladders on some of the inflatables, and sliding down with her. I had a lot more fun with Pufferfish that way than I would have by just standing around and watching her. However, I felt like a delinquent every time I climbed onto an inflatable with her! It would be nice if they had certain hours, like mornings while most older kids and teens are in school and not many birthday parties are happening, where parents are encouraged to have fun and play with their children on the inflatables.

For parents whose kids are old enough to sort of run around by themselves without being in their parents' direct line of sight at all times, there is a nice lounge with big, comfy chairs to relax in. The chairs are free to sit in... but if you put in a dollar, they will massage your back for you while you're there! Free wifi is also offered, and there is even a couple of computers available for people who didn't bring their own.

There is also a toddler area near the parents' lounge area. Pufferfish is really too old for it, but she still enjoyed taking a break in there when she started to get tired. I think that area might be a great winding down place for any kids who need a break from the noise and excitement.

Snacks are also available at Monkey Joe's, and the prices are pretty reasonable. They have soda, Icees, hot pretzels, ice cream, pizza and hot dogs. (I wouldn't recommend the hot dogs, though.)

When it was time to go pick up the big kids from school, Pufferfish really didn't want to leave! She definitely had a blast. I have already promised her that we'll be going back very soon. If you have kids, its a safe bet that they'll love this place, too!

By the way, need a babysitter? Because I do that, too!


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