Well, color me exhausted.
Billy Beez USA is up and running and it’s creating quite a buzz. The new attraction – which calls itself a play park – is on the second floor at the Walden Galleria in the food court section of the mall.
The rain-forest type setting is a one-of-a-kind adventure, just as it claims to be. The enormous play area has obstacle courses, huge slides, ball blasters and toys. Tunnels and tubes are filled with twists and turns.
We’ve seen places like this before – think McDonald’s play lands or Chuck E. Cheese. This is different - it's for kids and parents. Yep. That's right, parents, be prepared to play hard. When my 4-year-old and I were there, we saw dozens of sweaty, exhausted parents.
It is a workout.
Let’s start at the beginning. It took a while to get in, about 15 minutes. We went on a Saturday afternoon and the line was pretty long. It took a few minutes to get each customer set. The staffer gets your name and enters you into the computer. They then take a photo of you and your child/children (for safety reasons, they say) and put matching wristbands on – also for safety.
Next, take your shoes, coats and anything else you don’t want to carry and feel safe leaving, and place them in a cubby. I have to say, the cubby area was a mess and we were lucky to find a place to put our things. I did not see any lockers or any way to secure belongings. Once we removed our shoes, we were off to play in socks, which are required.
Here’s the thing; I’m a pretty hands-on mom. I do not like to let my girls out of my sight for a second. This means I had to go with Emma in every tube and tunnel. It was fun, but I did feel a little claustrophobic at times. Had I stayed down on the ground level and just watched her, I would have lost her in a second. There are too many ways to go. So, she was happy that we went together.
I couldn’t believe how huge the place was. We spent hours inside and still didn’t make it to every area. They do have a section just for toddlers, but Emma is too big for that, and wanted to explore the big stuff. I was relieved that I did not bring the baby, it never would have worked. I would not have been able to crawl around while carrying a baby. No way. (Although I did see one dad doing just that.)
The rainbow slide was the most fun for us. We must have gone down 10 times. The bright colors were cool, and it was fun to race down. Everything seemed clean and safe. I don’t know how things will wear over time, though.
The admission is good for an entire day with re-entry allowed. You are not allowed to bring food or drinks inside, but there is a small cafe where you can buy the standards like pizza (a slice is $2.97), hot dogs ($3) and chicken tenders. Whole pizzas are served Friday through Sunday. The cafe was very busy when we were there.
In general, it seemed a bit pricey. The price for toddlers ($9.95-$11.95) is less than Bounce Magic (they charge $12 for all-day play but adults are free). At Billy Beez, adults pay as well ($6.95) , so in the end you are paying more.
It was fun, but not exactly what I expected. If you aren’t into climbing in tubes and racing down slides, it might not be for you. Unless your child is old enough to be on his or her own, you might hold off on a visit to Billy Beez. It was also very loud and might be a bit overwhelming for little ones. We left truly exhausted but had a lot of fun. My daughter can’t wait to go back.
The national chain is new to this area and it has some growing pains to work through. The line to get in should not take that long, but time will likely fix that. The staff members were friendly but again, just learning.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Weekday play pass: Child (5-15), $19.95; toddler (1-4), $9.95; infant (up to 1) plus adult, $9.95; adult (18 and up), $6.95.
Weekend (Friday through Sunday:) Child, $20.95; toddler, $11.95; infant plus adult, $9.95 ; adult, $6.95.