Mt. Playmore: Austin Bucket List for 2015

2015 Austin Bucket Lists

We say it all the time, but we do truly believe it: Austin is an amazing place to raise a family. With this in mind, we’re on a mission to go discover all the things which make our town special. To help get out more without getting overwhelmed, we came up with the Austin Bucket List project. Each year, we pick 10 things we’d like to do in Austin — with or without our kids. That sounds doable, doesn’t it? Then, we document our adventures here, with the idea of getting each of you inspired to do the same.

What’s an endeavor like this without a few friends along for the ride? We asked our blogger friends in Austin who’d like to join us on the Austin Bucket List project, and we were thrilled to have several takers. Today’s report is from Skye Kilean, who volunteered with her son and Little Helping Hands for her last bucket list item. This time, Skye and Boy Detective are exploring a new-to-them indoor playground. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:


Mt. Playmore’s website says it’s the largest indoor playground in Central Texas, but I still had no idea. Even the quote “the same size as a 3,000 square foot house” didn’t get my brain wrapped around it. But this place is gigantic, especially looking at it from a child’s eyes.

We arrived on a Sunday morning right at 10am and it was blissfully quiet until about 11:30. Boy Detective had the run of the place. It took him about half an hour just to work through the entire climbing structure, doing all the different sections. Then he started repeating the most fun activities, timing himself on the various slides to find the fastest one, and trying new things with equipment he’d already been on once.

Even at 11:30, there was still plenty of room to run and play freely, but sometimes he’d have to wait for a desired activity or move on to give someone else a turn. Not a bad thing to practice, clearly.

In contrast to bouncy house places, there isn’t anywhere your kid can go that you can’t see them. The entire structure is wrapped in fine but strong mesh, and the lower sections also have a larger mesh, but there are no solid sections or walls that hide what the kids are up to. Boy Detective loved it because he could always tell “hey Mom, look at this!” and I could. I loved it because I could always check to make sure he was behaving appropriately. ;)

I also appreciated the kid-level handwashing sinks, available without going into a bathroom

He kept telling me he was tired, but at least four times he said he might be done… and then he got up to go back in. The structure was clearly exerting some kind of magnetic pull on his mind. It’s extremely strenuous work for kids just to make one loop through everything.
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What you need to know:

Mt. Playmore is on the northbound frontage road of I-35, well after the Parmer exit. It’s in a shopping strip with Kohl’s, but the Kohl’s sign is partially obscured by trees. Once you’ve seen Home Depot on your right, you’re almost there. Just go a little bit further. Mt. Playmore and Kohl’s are the only places in that parking lot.

When you enter, the staff stamp grownups and kids with a numeric code that matches them up. It’s in invisible ink, and they use a UV light to check the codes on your way out. I wish I’d taken a picture of that! It was cool.

Everyone playing needs to wear socks. There are plenty of places to leave shoes.

Parents are welcome to enter the climbing space with their children. I have to be honest: at bouncy houses and playgrounds, I usually use the excuse “adults aren’t supposed to unless it’s to help a very small child” to avoid doing this. I’ll do a full day of Schlitterbahn, but I just don’t want to clamber around in spaces designed for kids. So at Mt. Playmore, I only went in once, for a specific purpose. It was HARD. I had my sunglasses on my head and my purse on my shoulder, and that was a big mistake, as they both kept falling off. And I fell off the tightrope, which my kid had no problem with.

They do have a toddler area, but my apologies, I didn’t think to check it out since we’re well past those days!

Once Saturday a month, they open at 9am for children with autism or special needs who benefit from “a lower level of stimulus” while playing. I’m not sure what changes they make, but it’s worth asking if that sounds promising for your kiddo.

Downsides:

Cost. At $10.95 for a seven year old, and $1.50 for an adult, this was more expensive than places like Hoppin’ House or Locomotion. But a monthly pass is only $39.95 for one kid + 2 adults (cheaper per kid with 2-4 kids), so that’s not a bad deal if you would go more than once per weekend… which we probably wouldn’t because it’s so far away. I wish it was a punch card where you buy a certain number of visits!

Related to cost: you can’t bring in your own food or drinks, because they have a restaurant. While they have a somewhat varied menu, it adds a lot to the bill if you’re buying lunch for everyone in your party on top of admission. And if someone in your family needs gluten-free or other allergen-free food, you’re probably out of luck. The stamps on your arms let you go in and out throughout the day, so I guess you could go out to the car and eat if it’s not too hot?

The arcade. When Boy Detective was younger, we had trouble staying focused on books at the library if anyone was using the little kids’ computers. He would keep drifting over to where he could watch the screens. We’re going to Mt. Playmore for active play, not screen time. But I know at some point I’ll get wheedled for “just to look” or “just a few tokens.”

Most Important Upside:

I promise it was a happy tired.

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