"My kids have a ball and it's actually really hard to get them to leave and I think the price is great!"
Waukesha County Indoor activities for kids
By LAURA DRITLEIN, Sussex Sun
Posted: Feb. 9, 2010
When one long winter day runs into another, families look for fresh ideas to channel energy and try new things.
Two local family oriented environments offer new experiences to beat the winter blahs.
Flabbergast, in Sussex, is a fun center that, “offers clean, safe, family fun,” said Tammy Lorentz, a member of the Flabbergast management team. Flabbergast opened in May 2009 and is owned by Robert Amstadt, James R. Marriott and Mary Ellen Bowers along with Momentum Early Learning Center next door.
“We are open play all the time,” said Lorentz. Flabbergast boasts more than 15,000 square feet of fun, including a 50-game arcade, huge inflatables, colossal slides, a giant climbing fortress, a café featuring hot dogs, pretzels, Rosati’s pizza and specialty coffee drinks. Parents can relax in a lounge with comfortable easy chairs, flat screen TVs, pub style tables and free Wifi.
“We’re big, we can handle a lot of children,” said Bowers. “Our play structure is the largest in southeastern Wisconsin.”
“We, as a team, designed Flabbergast from the ground up,” said Bowers.
“The emphasis is on family,” said Jeremy Amstadt.
“We sanitize daily, people come back for that,” said Dana Amstadt.
The activity center is open to all ages, while the inflatables are appropriate for ages 2 to 14. Signed waivers and socks are required to play. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Flabbergast is open for the “Mom and Me Morning Club” with discounted prices for non-school age children from 9 to 11 a.m. every Monday through Friday.
Flabbergast offers all-inclusive parties for birthdays, Scout meetings and other groups. Groups can also earn money by booking a fundraiser where groups can earn 15 percent of the admission and concession sales they bring through the door.
Special events include a Black Light pajama night from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 12 when guests are treated to fun and a free big cupcake. During the upcoming Paddy O’Pardy from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 12, guests are invited to get their hair painted green, wear green for a black light party, watch a performance by Heat All Star Cheerleaders and enjoy green Shamrock cookies.
A code of conduct is strictly enforced to keep the fun family oriented. A special wrist band system is used in conjunction with electronic access security doors to keep the environment safe.
“We are known for our staff which is hands-on and enthusiastic,” said Bowers who hires young people from the area. “Our employees reflect the family oriented culture.” Flabbergast employees follow dress, hair and nail codes. Flabbergast hosts many birthday parties, said Bowers and the staff is complimented on how parties are run. “We have a process for parties that includes hand washing. It is a process that works.”
Scouts, including Girl Scouts, can earn the inflatable fun patch at Flabbergast.
“When people come here, they come back,” said Bowers.
Play with a purpose
While some days call for blowing off energy and working with large motor skills, other days call for enriching activities.
“We concentrate more on education. We are quieter,” said Lynne Precord, manager of Children’s Play Gallery (TCPG) in Delafield. “We try to hit on more developmental aspects, versus blowing off steam.” Children’s Play Gallery focuses on younger children from infants to early grade school offering free play and a variety of classes.
Children’s Play Gallery opened in November 2007, by owners Sarah and Ron Sullivan. “When she had kids, she looked for a place where parents and kids could interact. So much of the winter there aren’t these types of activities.
“The Sullivans moved out of the area, but Sarah continues to be very involved in running the museum,” said Precord.
“We meet a very big need in the area and we are drawing from a wider and wider areas” she said. Guests visit from Delafield, Oconomowoc and the Lake Country area and from Milwaukee and Madison.
The large museum environment features areas for different age groups and activities that are all within parents’ view. A soft play area is perfect for infants and children age 2 and younger. In the marketplace children can play store, shop and bring items home to a kitchen and dining room. The Spirit House features an aquarium, doll house and bins containing activities, games, play animals, veterinarian kit, puzzles and Mr. Potatohead. Kids can play with a train table or Lego table on their way to a Pirate Ship and Tree House. The Pirate Ship was constructed by Amish family craftsmen and shipped from Pennsylvania. The play structure was assembled by the Amish, on site, said Precord. Budding builders can put together pipes and learn about pulleys in a construction zone which is the brainstorm of Ron Sullivan.
Kids can get creative with a Moon Sand table, felt board area or an art area where families are, “free to make our projects or create your own projects. You can make your mess here versus in your home. Our easels are always ready to go,” said Precor.
The Children’s Play Gallery offers the Gathering Room for parties, workshops and mom’s groups. Family friendly restrooms are complete with kid-sized fixtures. They are committed to maintaining and promoting a clean and sanitized environment. “We disinfect every toy and structure every day,” said Precor. Kleenex and hand sanitizer are readily available at every station.
TCPG offers spring break camps, Saturday workshops, early concepts classes, storytimes and parent relief nights in addition to other programs such as an Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny.
For more information, visit, www.flabbergastfun .com