Emerald City: Our Newest Haunt

Parent-Tot Open Gym at Emerald City: The perfect Kansas City toddler activity.

It is always hard to find places where a young toddler can play. This was even more true on Halloween. Every event was either all about candy, during Baby’s naps, or after bedtime. Halloween was my favorite holiday, so missing out on all the fun was beginning to bum me out. A few days before Halloween, however, a friend shared an event on Facebook that looked like it was created specifically with Baby and me in mind: Emerald City’s Parent-Tot Halloween Party.

Emerald City Gym is a gymnastics center with an incredible set up for kids of all ages. They have a huge play area with in-ground trampolines, slides, balance beams, a rope swing, a rock wall, and more fun things to do and climb on. Outside of open play, they also have traditional gymnastics equipment for recreational and competitive training.

I loved Emerald City during a previous visit when I was a day camp counselor, but never thought of it as a place to bring Baby (yet, at least). The online flyer said the party was for walkers through kindergarten, which felt promising but also like a wide age range (hesitation #1). Baby walks, runs, and climbs, so as long as he wouldn’t be overrun by bigger kids it could be a great place for us to play.

Optimistic, I dressed Baby up in his comfy Carter’s Frankenstein monster costume and we headed out to party. We arrived at the gym a few minutes early, and suddenly I wasn’t so sure anymore. The other kids in line were all much older, and when I checked out the facility from a set of risers it looked much more kid than toddler friendly (hesitation #2-6).

Even though the party claimed it was for walkers, but I couldn’t see what Baby would actually be able to do. I walked back and forth from the lobby to the front desk to the risers and back a again, trying to decide if we should go in or head back home instead.

On my second trip out the door, a dad inside caught my eye and nodded at me with a knowing look. He could tell I was waivering, and walked over to tell us we could do this. He told me his 18-month-old daughter (an adorable Winnie the Pooh) had been coming for months and loved it. We walked back up to the risers where he pointed out all of the things that were perfect for new walkers.

The trampolines were her favorites. All of the trampolines were in-ground and only one child was allowed on them at a time, making the set up safe for toddler play. There were three different sizes, and the dad said his daughter spent most of her time running up and down the long one (originally meant to practice tumbling passes). Playing on the smaller trampolines was even how his daughter learned to jump. She also loved to climb on the gym mats and run through the maze. The winning straw? She always took an awesome nap after open play.

We paid our $5 entrance fee and descended into the play area. I could barely take our shoes off before Baby was running away to play. He loved climbing on the triangle shaped mats, running and bouncing on the trampolines, and running around on the spring floor. Climbing and running and climbing and running and running and climbing and running.

Parent-Tot Open Gym at Emerald City: The perfect Kansas City toddler activity.

I loved having such a big, safe space for Baby to do all of this running and climbing. It was fun to chat with other parents and I appreciated the festive music, including tunes from Harry Potter, Ghostbusters, and The Addams Family. Baby and I had found our new happy place.

We found our friend who originally shared the event on Facebook, along with her her husband and their three and a half year old son (aka Emmet from The Lego Movie). She kept me company following Baby, while her preschooler ran away to climb, slide, and play. It’s amazing the difference only a couple of years can make.

Emerald City was an an exciting playland, but unfortunately it was kind of grungy, too. I had to keep an eye on Baby constantly to prevent him from picking up bits of trash and putting them into his mouth. Once when I was too late, something made it into his mouth. Luckily, Baby willingly spit it out into my hand. I was horrified to see a folded up band-aid.

Parent-Tot Open Gym at Emerald City: The perfect Kansas City toddler activity.

While there were many things Baby couldn’t do, we found more than enough to keep him occupied for an hour while expending lots of energy. Older kiddos were also stayed busy the full hour on the zip line, slides, balance beams, bars, and rope swings, keeping the kindergartners and tots from being on top of each other. Everyone loved the trampolines.

Even after the freaky band-aid incident, we will definitely be back. As we learned from other moms in the bathroom after the party, this is just one of those places where everyone needs to wash their hands on the way out.

What unexpected places have you found for some active toddler playtime?

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2 thoughts on “Emerald City: Our Newest Haunt

  1. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    This looks and sounds like such an awesome place! This would totally tucker little ones out!

    We need something like that here… especially to get through our long winters.

    Thanks for sharing Farrah (and Happy Thanksgiving)!
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…7 Facts About MeMy Profile

    1. farrahudell Post author

      I’m bracing for my first winter with a toddler. He may be getting a new indoor slide in a few weeks {shh, don’t tell him!}, and I’m scouting out mini trampolines. Anything to help get the energy out!


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