We’ve been here twice now! With the cold weather upon us, check out this indoor play space at Busy Bees.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Mon-Fri), 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Sat-Sun) unless they are having a private party. The Busy Bees Facebook page has updates about late openings/closings, fun events, and giveaways. UPDATE: The owner contacted me and let me know that private parties don’t interfere with normal operating hours on weekdays. On weekends it only delays openings by an hour. Otherwise, private parties are held after normal business hours.
Location: 6110 D Arlington Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044
Cost: $15 per child over 1 years old, $12 for additional children (parents and babies under 1 are free) – in-and-out privileges all day
Busy Bees is located in a busy strip mall. Parking is plentiful, but the lot can get a little hectic.
- Kids have to be under 48″
- Everyone has to wear socks
- Parents have to stay and supervise
- Food must stay outside of the “playscape”
- A waiver must be signed
- No cash – credit only!
When you first enter, there are two iPads attached to the wall where you can sign the waiver, if you didn’t do so at home. I strongly recommend completing sign up before you get there. I did not, and found that it wasn’t too fun to do so with a wiggly two-year-old excited to play. You can do so here.
Once you are registered, you give the front counter your child’s first and last name and they can look you up in the system. Whoever is with the child receives a matching armband (they write a code on both bands) so that when you leave they can check that the child is leaving with the right adult. The first time we went they did not do this, so I think this is a new safety precaution they added. Keep an eye on your child’s band or make sure it is on his/her wrist well. Our lovely C somehow lost her band and the Hubby had to convince them she was with him.
After you enter there is a shelf area to put shoes and bags. The first time we went they had some hooks on the wall as well, but this last time those were gone. The shelf space is not big enough for larger diaper bags, so those have to go on the very top. The shoe area is designated by the yellow tile. Outside of the yellow tile, they ask that you wear socks only. Within the yellow tile area are soft, round, seats and three hanging pod-like seats. Just outside of the yellow tile area there are counters and stools where parents of older kids can sit and watch, or the kids can take a break and have some snacks. They sell a variety of snacks, or you can bring your own.
The “playground” consists of a number of moving pieces and a two-story “playhouse.” The top deck has a netted room filled with latex balloons and a blower that has the balloons zooming around the room on one side and a clear, bounce-house like area on the other. The balloon room is loud and windy, but a blast. All of the kids in the room were running around having so much fun. Even shy C loved chasing after the balloons. The bounce-house room has a clear plastic floor that is like a huge bubble for kids to jump on. It leads to a slide that goes to another area of the playroom. Underneath the bubble is a sitting area. It appeared that most of the kiddos were delighted with this room, but C was not one of them. She, as mentioned in earlier posts, is pretty cautious about heights and gets nervous when there are holes in the ground or she can see the ground below her at a height. The first time we went she cried when I tried to get her to go in there. The second time she went with Hubby and she refused to play in there at first, but after warming up for two hours, she decided she wanted to try it out right before we left. She flopped onto it, but didn’t make it all the way to the slide.
In the lower part of this playhouse, there is a soft playroom area for younger kids. It is best for crawlers or new walkers. They have soft cylinders and cubes, bumpy floor areas, and a mirror on the wall. There is a wall that contains smaller kids and lets new walkers cruise. I went with the Bestie the first time and her son, X, who was about 9 months at the time.
Moving pieces include a mini carousel composed of bean-shaped bugs(?). I’m not exactly sure what they are, but that is what they remind me of. There is also what looks like a hamster wheel for kids, and a soft seesaw/teeter-totter. C was not a huge fan of the hamster wheel – it moves on its own, so the child has to keep up with the wheel. It seemed like kids were excited about it until they actually got in it. The teeter-totter has some animal characters on it that kids can hold on to, and it goes up and down continuously. In general, C is a little scared by teeter-totters, but she liked this one more, probably because it was soft and more predictable than a traditional teeter-totter.
There is also a moving/tilting jungle gym with monkey bars, and a spinning (slowly) carousel of swinging balls. I do not know how else to describe it. C had fun running in between the soft pendulum-like structures, and some of the bigger kids enjoyed jumping on them and swinging around.
Lastly, there is a slide that is brightly lit up and has a little tunnel running underneath it. C enjoyed sliding down it and crawling under it!
For the Parents
There is coffee/tea for the parents and free wifi! Parents are allowed in the playspace, but not on the equipment. While I understand that the equipment probably cannot hold an adult’s weight, one of the things I love about the playground is going down the slide with C. Since C is also very cautious, it helps her to see me do something first, or for us to do it together the first time. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t go down the big, clear slide together.
Of course, you want to know… how clean is it? They clean it every 3 hours using Dapple products. I found it to be overall pretty clean, and saw workers going through periodically and spot cleaning. The staff also keeps an eye out to ensure that people are following the rules (wearing socks, for example). UPDATE: They now clean it constantly rather than every three hours, which explains why I saw staff walking around and cleaning.
It is a little pricey if you’re only planning to drop by for a short while, but definitely worth it if you are going to take advantage of the in-and-out privileges or if you plan to stay for a couple of hours. There are plenty of places to eat in the area, so I would recommend coming in the morning, breaking for lunch, and then coming back for a little while before nap time!
I would also say that if you have a smaller toddler, to keep an eye on him/her. The height limit is 48 inches, but 48 inches is a lot bigger than C’s 32 inches, so I worried about the bigger kids colliding with her. At one point, a kid pushed her because she wasn’t going fast enough for him, but in general I felt like parents were doing a good job of monitoring their kids and making sure everyone was safe.
I definitely plan to go there again when Baby B is older and crawling. I think it would be perfect for him to play in the soft play area while C runs around.