UPDATE 10/2016: Please note that the play area has been relocated to the food court area (near the carousel). This post contains outdated information. Check out this post for details.
UPDATE for June 2015 – The carousel hours have changed and it does not open until 2:00 p-m. Monday – Thursday. The rest of the hours remain the same for now. They may expand the hours during the summer months. To get the latest schedule, contact their management office at 860-644-1450.
UPDATE for August 2012 – The playscape was recently redone. Shawna has the scoop and provides you with all the details here.
My post for today is all about the kid related activities available at the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, Connecticut.
I had not been to this mall in a very long time, but I had a gift card for the Children’s Place burning a hole in my pocket, so I wanted to make a trip. I also knew from one of Shawna’s previous holiday posts that there are some fun kid activities available at this mall including an indoor playscape, a carousel, and a mini train ride.
I asked Shawna if she wanted to meet me there one rainy afternoon for some shopping and kid energy burning. She was in!
When we arrived, the first order of business was to find parking. I had no idea where to park, so I parked by the main entrance. This ended up being a good and bad location. The good part was that there was an automatic door at this entry which made access with my double stroller much easier. The bad part was this entry brought you in on the second floor and not near the children’s play area.
Shawna actually parked on the other side of the mall and entered at the Barnes and Noble. While they didn’t have automatic doors at this entrance, this did end up being the best entrance for access to the children’s play area. Once you get through Barnes and Noble, the play area is right there and you are near a mall directory and elevator.
I would show you a picture of what it looks like when you come in, but I can’t. I did take a picture, but Shawna and I were actually stopped by mall security and they warned us that pictures of their directory signage was not allowed. We have been doing this for 7 months and have never been stopped by security!
The security guard looked like this . . . Well, not really, but you get the general visual. Anyways, we actually thought he was going to be concerned about us taking pictures in the kid’s play area (though we always try to be super careful and only include our children’s faces in those pics), but he actually said that pictures are only allowed in the children’s activity areas. Go figure! He didn’t think our other pictures would be a problem, but he didn’t want us to snap any signage pics.
Anyways, so that was a long-winded way to say that the most direct parking location for access to the children’s play area is by the Barnes and Noble (maybe grab a little latte while you are at it).
The children’s play area is called Huckleberry’s Hideaway. There is a big statue of Huck to greet you at the entrance.
Kids under the height of Huck’s paint brush (42 inches) are welcome to play on the equipment.
The play area is fairly large and contains several play structures for the kids. It is a soft play area as the floor is carpeted and cushioned and all of the play structures are soft as well.
As you can see from the picture above, there is seating for parents and older siblings all around the perimeter of the play area. There is also a convenient place for kids to store their shoes (only socks are allowed for play) and a convenient place to store your stroller.
If I could change one thing about the play area, it would be to add a gate at the entrance so that it was fully enclosed. Other moms and I were having to make a few mad dashes to pull our little toddlers back inside.
There goes Sparkles . . .
Man that girl is quick and determined.
Overall, this was a great play area. There is a little wear and tear on some of the seating, but the structures are in good shape. The kids had fun and there was plenty to keep them entertained for almost an hour.
We also discovered a few other fun kid activities in this mall.
There is a mini-train ride run by Roaming Railroad and located in front of JC Penny’s.
The ride operates from Thanksgiving through Easter each year and the cost is $3 per ride. Riders under 30 inches must be accompanied by a paying adult.
There is also a carousel located in the food court. You can feed the kids some lunch or dinner and then tell them if they eat all their veggies, they can ride this . . .
The cost is a $1 per ride and you need a token to get on. The tokens can be purchased from a machine located right near the ride itself. Children 45 inches and smaller need to wear a safety restraint when they ride and must be accompanied by an adult.
I also mentioned that the carousel is located in the food court. This is a great place to grab a little lunch while you are out. They also have tons of high chairs available for feeding the toddler crowd.
If the food court doesn’t suite your fancy, the mall also has other food options including Bertucci’s, Panera Bread, Red Robin, and Ruby Tuesdays.
We also (of course) made a visit to the restrooms on this trip. There are restrooms located throughout the mall on both levels and each one we visited had a great setup with a kids changing area and a special seat for toddlers.
The changing area was located before you entered the men’s or women’s bathroom so mom or dad could handle the baby changing duties.
Tell us: Have you been to the playground at Buckland Hills? What do you think?
The Shoppes at Buckland Hills
194 Buckland Hills Drive, Suite 2500
Manchester, Connecticut 06042
Get directions here:
Hours & Admission
Mall Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
Huckleberry’s Hideaway Hours & Admission: Same as mall hours; FREE
(Updated June 2015) Carousel Hours & Admission : Monday – Thursday 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Friday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.; $1 per ride
(Seasonal) Train Hours & Admission : Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm – 6:00pm; $3 per ride
- Children’s play area (Huckleberry’s Hideaway)
- Train ride
- Stroller rental
- Food court
- Baby changing station in restrooms
- Automatic doors at some entrances (main entrance and department stores)
- Pictures with Santa in December
- Pictures with the Easter Bunny in March/April (for 2012, the Bunny will be in the Macy’s Court through Saturday, April 7. Photo Operations hours are: Monday – Saturday – 10am-8pm and Sunday – noon-6pm.)