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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure Playground

I have seen parents come unglued at the happiest place on earth.  It's not a pretty sight and try as I might to look away, it is difficult to not eavesdrop on their drama.  The place where I have witnessed the most unhinging of parents is at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure Playground in Hollywood Studios.

First, let me tell you about the attraction, then I will speculate as to what happens to parents.  The attraction itself is a large playground.  The entrance looks like the photo above and you can enter from the Streets of America (above) or from the other side, just across from the Monsters, Inc. meet and greet (click here to read more).  Both entrances to the attraction lead to the one and only entrance into the playground and the one and only exit from the playground.  Read that one more time. . . one and only entrance and exit!
The concept of the playground is that you have been shrunk to a size smaller than an insect and everything you would find in a backyard is now huge to you, including the blades of grass which make a nice shade structure.

Here's the boy and the husband on an ant and what's that in the background?  It's an Oreo cookie!  The floor is that padded play structure flooring to help break falls and there are noises. . . the occasional buzzing sound of a bee--that is HUGE.  Or the dog sneezing. . .
In the movie set adventure, spider webs are meant for climbing, a roll film becomes a slide, and tree roots make excellent caves and tunnels.  For kids who have spent time touring the parks either in strollers or walking with their parents, have waited patiently in queues, this playground is a great place to blow off steam.  A great place to run, climb, etc.  While their parents catch a breath, consult the park map, and plan what is coming next.

Speaking of planning, here's what I have seen happen. . .  During our last trip, the boy was playing and I was standing near the entrance/exit area of the playground.  A mom came in with more than one child and the children were off.  She panicked.  She had no idea this was a playground.  She thought it was a 3D movie (that's in EPCOT, but now it is Captain EO).  The kids hadn't been prepped for how they were going to handle the playground.  The mom wondered if there was another way out.  Would the kids escape and she not know it?  Remember:  One and only entrance and exit.  Say it with me. . .

Since the mom hadn't planned enough to know what the movie set adventure was and the kids were happily surprised by the playground, the mom now was trying to corral them while yelling at her husband.  Again, it is just hard not to watch and I actually answered some of her questions because I was standing right there.  And, she wasn't the only one!

So, here's how we handle the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure Playground.  The first time, we followed him around.  The husband remembers, not so fondly, climbing up and down the 3 story net.  The next few times, one or both of us waited patiently at the entrance/exit area while he played, giving the so many more minutes warning when he reappeared or stopped to get a drink at the drinking fountain.  Now, we stop for a bite to eat at the nearby Studios Catering Co, where the dining area overlooks the walkway to the entrance/exit.  When the boy is done eating, he heads for the playground.  Yep, by himself.  (Since we can see the walkway to the entrance/exit, we would know if he left he playground or if he needs us for something.)  The husband and I take our time finishing and then one or both of us head to the benches just outside the playground to wait a bit until it is time to go in, make eye contact and give the so many more minutes and then we go signal.  Works like a charm and we all leave the area happy!  Now that the boy can tell time, guess what is going to happen next time?

My advice would be to plan and prep the kid(s).  Know what the attraction has and how you are going to handle it, so you're not surprised and can relax a bit.  Then I would say you've got 3 choices:
  1. Play along--climb, slide, run, etc.  Which is OK!  It's Disney and all the play structures can handle adults using them, too.
  2. Wait in the playground as your child or children play.  There are benches just outside, which is where you will have to be if you have a sleeping child in a stroller, and inside the playground there are some areas that can be used as seats or there is always the spongy floor.
  3. Find Studios Catering Co. and grab a bite to eat while you wait.  Even if the counter service restaurant is closed, I think the seating area stays open.  AND, there's an adult beverage counter just next door.
 Disney is going to keep building playgrounds like these in the theme parks.  I would venture a bet that when the Fantasyland make-over is complete there will be at least one playground.  As EPCOT gets refurbished there will be playgrounds.  Already, when the Flower and Garden Festival is happening, 3 playgrounds spring up around World Showcase.  Disney plans for these areas for the kids. . . and parents.  They are meant to allow kids some freedom and to blow off steam during park touring.

And, if you think the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure Playground makes parents nervous about losing eye sight of their kids, just wait 'til you see the Boneyard at Animal Kingdom!

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