Austin Bucket List for 2014: Hot Lava Obstacle Course

bucketlist1Here at LiveMom, we put out a call to a few of our friends to see if anyone else wanted to join us on our Bucket List Adventure for 2014. The idea was to get out there and do one thing we’ve always wanted to do in Austin…about one per month. It might be with kids, might be without. Either way, we’re going to report back to you on how it went. If you go to the page with all of our lists, you can see which ones we have completed and written about.

We’re thrilled that Skye Kilaen joined us on our quest! Last we heard from her, she and her son scaled Mount Bonnell. This time, the two of them checked out an adult playground which also has hours for kids. Here’s what she shared about that experience:

Editor’s Note: Sadly, Hot Lava closed its doors in December of 2014. Read more here.

I belong to a group of women that meets monthly at a local comic shop to discuss our shared love of comic books. One of the gals, Kate, introduced herself and said that she owned an indoor obstacle course.

Say what? An obstacle course?

It’s true. She and her husband own Hot Lava Obstacle Course in North Austin. She described it as an indoor space where adults can work out on various kinds of equipment, but also said it was open to kids. When I mentioned this to Boy Detective, his eyes got really wide… and I knew we were going to try it out.

First things first, here’s the child policy at Hot Lava:

  • Children under 18 must have a parent/legal guardian sign the liability waiver; minors may come in with a signed waiver.
  • Children under 12 must have a parent/legal guardian or supervising adult on site; groups must have 1 adult for every 5 children. These adults do not need to buy a day pass unless they are also going to play on the obstacles.
  • Children under 8 are only allowed on the floor at Hot Lava between 10:00am – 2:00pm. Children under 8 must have a parent/legal guardian or supervising adult on the floor with them at all times; groups must have 1 adult for every 3 children. These supervising adults must also purchase a day pass.

Day passes are $10, so this gets pricey pretty quick if you have more than one kid and you need to be on the floor with them. For just me and Boy Detective, $20 plus tax wasn’t a bad investment for starting at 10am and playing until he was ready for food and a break. I just wish I’d planned it to bring lunches we could have eaten on the benches or in the car and then kept playing.

Because he totally would have. In fact, there was a persuasive campaign after lunch for me to take him back… even though we both knew I had to get to work and his Grandma was waiting for him at our house! There was one other mom there with two kids, and together we had the run of the place since it was a weekday and everyone else was in school. (Ours was closed for parent-teacher conferences; I promise we didn’t just play hooky.)

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I thought Hot Lava was cool compared to kid-tailored spaces like bouncy houses, because sometimes it wasn’t immediately obvious to the kids how they should or could use some of the spaces and materials. They had to figure stuff out, make a plan, and try new things that they wouldn’t have to if everything was their size. At first, he couldn’t figure out how to get into the foam pit, and ended up stacking crash mats until they were just tall enough to give him a boost so he could climb the wall.

To get into the rope hammock above the foam pit meant working together to build a mountain of blocks, then taking turns bracing the mountain so each kid could get in the hammock. And someone of voting age to also brace it too… the identity of that person shall remain a secret so she doesn’t have to disclose how hard she found it to climb through a foam pit. I think it’s easier when you only weigh 40 pounds?

I didn’t get good pix of the big red tumbling floor, but he spent quite a while laying out mats in a loop there and then running around the course he’d made. The floor is springy so it actually felt great to jump up and down on. And for six year olds it was plenty of space for running and getting tired out. Also, hula hooping.

You can see a lot more photos at the Hot Lava Flickr stream.

A few more logistical details:

Hot Lava does have open shelving for shoes, socks, phones, etc. It’s actually easier to do a lot of stuff there in bare feet than with socks, though they don’t require you to ditch the socks if you don’t want to. They do have water fountains and bathrooms, the latter of which my son remarked were very clean.

There is a LOT of foam everywhere. Expect to get it all over your clothes and in your hair if you go in the foam pit, and even if you don’t. We were able to brush most of it off easily, though.

They do have party discounts where you can bring 10 people for the price of 8. Some of the ladies from my comics group did that for a grownup birthday party and apparently it was a blast. I think that would work well for teens or older kids too. The party policy is listed with the kid rules on their policies page.

And finally, you may need a better camera than my phone if you want good pix of some of the activities. You know, the ones where the kid just won’t stop moving?

Hot Lava gets a thumbs up from our household, and I’m especially looking forward to dropping in on weekday mornings a few times during the summer when it’s too hot to play outside.

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