Dec 19, 2010

Lakeside Mall Play Area

I love a good deal.  Doesn't everyone?  So it stands to reason that I like "free" even more.  I'm not talking the kind of "free" where you have to take two city buses and a subway to get some "free" biscuits from Red Lobster, but the kind of free where you just have to drive a few miles.

Yesterday my hubby and I had some shopping to do so we made the trip out to Lakeside Mall.  I prefer this mall over Oakland, it's just nicer.  Lakeside also didn't replace their play area with a Santa display like Oakland did.

We did some shopping, then we let Rosa frolic in the play area.  Lakeside has two sections for the children.  One that is intended for younger children and one for older children.  I can see how this is a good idea, but if you have ever been there, then you know that each child wants to check out both sections anyway.  The only people that benefit from a separate area are those who bring their infants and young toddlers.  Even Rosa knows there are two sections and she likes to visit them both.

The side intended for the younger children has a boat, two little slides, a log, some toys around the wall and a mirror.  At seventeen months, Rosa is just now starting to be able to climb in and out of the boat on her own.  She especially likes to hide in the compartments and climb in and out over and over again.  She is able to climb up the slide with the steps and go down on her own with no difficulty.  The other slide has bumps on one side for the children to climb up, but Rosa hasn't mastered this yet, and the log is easy for her to climb and sit on, although she hasn't tried to walk along it yet like a balance beam.

The side intended for older children contains an ambulance, a walkway designed like a hospital, a red car and a slide.  Rosa is able to navigate the slide, ambulance, and hospital on her own, but she needs help getting in and out of the red car.  The slide had about four steps and is taller than the slides on the younger side.  It is shaped like a bridge and children are able to crawl under the slide as well.  The red car offers room for two or three children to sit in the car and a steering wheel that doesn't move.  It still holds the interest of the children and often they are waiting to have a turn.  The ambulance has lights in the front and back, which I just noticed for the first time on this visit.  It also has a wheel that doesn't move and room for quite a few children to stand in the back, and seating for about three.

Both sides offer ample seating for parents inside the play area.  Each time I have been there the hand sanitizer stations have been stocked.  I also like the brightly colored carpet that follows the theme of the items.  Everything is clean and well maintained there.  I also love that each section has only one entrance point.

There are a couple of things that I would like to change. I think the two sections could be merged so parents with more than one child can more easily keep track of their children.  The other disadvantage is the candy shop and "Extreme Fun" which are located right by the play area.  Rosa isn't old enough for these stores to be a distraction, but I have seen other parents struggle or give in to their children's desire to visit these stores.

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