Hi everyone! I’m excited to share that my friend, Tiffany Wentworth, is a guest blogger on our site today!
Tiffany and I met a few years ago when our children were attending the same preschool. We were both very involved in the school’s PTO and spent a lot of time together making copies of fliers, planning school events, and well chatting about life in general. Tiffany is an amazing mom and is often “out and about” with her two boys (ages 5 and 2) and I always enjoyed hearing about their family adventures. Recently, Tiffany shared some pictures on her Facebook page that really grabbed my attention — she had taken the boys to an indoor play destination located inside a mall (the Holyoke Mall to be exact). When I saw the pictures, I knew it would be a fun place to have on our site. So I asked Tiffany if she would be interested in covering the destination on our site and, lucky for us, she agreed!
Tiffany, her husband, and their two adorable boys (on the site we are calling them Ace and Rex), live in Bloomfield, Connecticut. In her spare time (ha!), Tiffany works in human resources and also has her own business as an airbrush makeup artist. We are so happy to have her on Out and About Mom today!
Also, thank you to Billy Beez for giving Tiffany and her family complimentary admission to their Holyoke, MA location in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% her own.
PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2016, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like schedules and pricing.
After having so much fun on our first outing to Billy Beez in the Holyoke Mall (located in Holyoke, Massachusetts), we were excited to be heading back for a second visit. I had originally seen a friend’s Facebook post with some pictures of her trip there and I immediately was online trying to find out more about this cool place. Billy Beez, a huge 27,000 square foot jungle-themed play arena for children, which can host up to 1,000 guests at a time, opened at this location in the Holyoke Mall in March of 2016. They offer a variety of activities including playscapes, slides, a toddler- only play area, a Ball Blaster arena, basketball courts and more for one inclusive admission price.
For our first trip, I relied solely on my “sense of direction” and ended up parking at the opposite end of the mall. This time around – I paid attention and was much more successful at parking closer to where we wanted to be. The great thing about Billy Beez being located in a mall is that there is always plenty of parking available.
Billy Beez is located on the upper level of the mall and I found the best place to park is just outside of Pottery Barn. You could also park outside of Forever XXI, which has escalators that bring you right up to the entrance of Billy Beez. You really can’t go wrong with parking since no matter where you park you’ll end up inside the mall and can make your way to Billy Beez.
We got lucky this trip with a parking spot just outside the Pottery Barn entrance to the mall. Once we were inside the mall, Billy Beez was just around the corner.
Being a Tuesday afternoon, neither the mall nor Billy Beez were very busy when we arrived. We were able to walk right in and up to the front check-in desk.
The Check-in area is really big and open, so I imagine even on a busier day or time it would still be a pretty easy process.
For first-time visitors, you’ll be asked for some basic information at the check-in desk – the first and last name of one adult, a phone number, and an email address (not required but great to give if you want to be added to their email list for special promotions and offers). Next, they will take a family photo to have on file for security purposes.
We were given a Billy Beez Fun Card for our family and each of us got our own wristband with a barcode unique to our family – both the card and bracelets would be scanned on our way out ensuring that I was leaving with the right kiddos and no extras. 🙂
For our visit, the boys took their sneakers off (socks stayed on – they are required for everyone who plans to play), tucked them into the shoe cubbies, and were half way up the closest playscape climber within a matter of moments. As they were on their way into the jungle themed playscape, I admired the impressive size of the shoe area, which not only had plenty of cubbies for shoes but also lots of benches to use when taking shoes on and off. I didn’t let myself spend too much time in the shoe area because I quickly learned during our first visit that the entire playscape (including over 1,000 feet of slides!) was one enormous jungle of fun and the boys could make their way from one end of Billy Beez to the other without coming down from the jungle. The great part is that most areas are totally visible from the floor below and you can still keep an eye on your kiddos without having to climb in there with them.
I was doing my best to watch the boys from below the playscape and every time I thought I had maybe lost sight of one of them, I would catch someone coming down and shooting out of a slide (some of the slides are pretty fast – which they loved – and I now understand why there was a nice little mat at the end of each slide).
They had never seen so many slides before – and neither had I. There were all sorts of slides – long slides, short slides, spiral slides, straight slides, wavy slides, open slides, closed tunnel slides. It really is amazing. It’s hard for the pictures to even do it justice. The slides were spread all throughout the playscape. We spent about 30 minutes exploring the different areas of the huge playscape- there was lots of trying out the different slides and the excitement of finding new ways to climb back up. I would definitely recommend comfortable clothes for anyone who plans to play – my boys always will pick gym shorts and t-shirts given the choice, so for this outing they were happy to hear the dress code was just that.
It wasn’t long before Ace spotted the basketball sports court in the very back of the play area. Its a pretty big, closed in court with basketball hoops and soft basketballs. We saw a scoreboard too but weren’t sure if it was more for looks or if it could be used to score an actual game. Ace wasn’t too concerned either way – he was just excited to be in there shooting hoops while Rex played in the big ball court next to us. That was another cool thing – everyone didn’t have to be in the same area, doing the same thing, but I was still able to keep an eye on most of what was going on.
As we were finishing up our basketball game, I happened to notice we were right next to the bathrooms. I figured it was a good opportunity to have the boys take a quick bathroom break. There were three options for bathrooms – a boy’s bathroom, a girl’s bathroom, and a family bathroom – we chose the family restroom which was very large and had its own pull down changing table. We also checked out the girl’s bathroom which was really big and also had a changing table.
On our way out, the boys had to try out the water fountain, of course. I usually bring along a little water bottle for each of the kids, but since Billy Beez doesn’t allow in any outside food or drinks, it was great that they had two water fountains.
I was hoping to convince the boys to take a break for a snack from the Honey Cafe, but just around the corner from the bathrooms and water fountains, Rex spotted the arcade area, complete with a huge prize counter, so Mom’s idea of taking a break from the fun was quickly forgotten.
There is an arcade kiosk which allows you to use cash or a credit card to load arcade credits onto your Billy Beez Fun Card (the same card used to swipe you into the play area when you first arrive) and the same card is also used to track your prize tickets. We took a look around the arcade but Rex was ready to head back into the playscape and we didn’t end up actually playing any games.
Luckily for me, the infamous 6 lane wave rainbow slide was next to catch the boys attention, I took the opportunity to grab a seat on one of the many benches and watch as the boys climbed their way up to the very top of the huge slide. It didn’t take them long to make their way up and down a few times before they insisted that I try it out with them. They hardly had to twist my arm – look at that slide – who wouldn’t want to try it out?? By the time I finally made my way to the top the boys were already at the bottom and climbing back up again… the boys did say it was awesome to see me sliding down – I guess that right there was worth the climb, right?
I could tell the boys were starting to get tired and I remember we hadn’t check out the Ball Blaster Arena. We made our way over to the arena which just so happened to be totally empty. Ace couldn’t believe they had the place to themselves. I climbed on into the arena with the boys too.
To be honest, it just looked like way too much fun to miss out on. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on and how everything worked. On the lower level of the arena is where all the balls land after they are launched from the blasters on the upper level. We figured out that by pushing the buttons next to the tubes, a vacuum system was turned on and would suck the balls up and drop them on the upper level of the arena where they would be ready to load into the blasters.
I let the boys climb up to the upper level while I stayed down below to send up some more balls for them. After a few minutes I climbed up (the hard way) – FYI there is a ramp to the right of the arena where you can walk up to the second level…I climbed up the stacked climber inside the arena – clearly NOT made for someone who is 5’9″ and not nearly as flexible as they should be… BUT I made it up and again it was worth the climb.
The second level was awesome, there were about 20 blasters up there, even on a busier day I can’t imagine there would be much of a wait, if any at all, to have a turn with a blaster. The little guys definitely need a hand using the blasters – it’s a combination of aiming, loading and shooting all at the same which can be tough for the little ones who can’t quite reach and see everything going on. Ace was able to load and shoot it on his own, and Rex was happy and laughing just watching all the balls fly around the arena. Once we had blasted off all the balls up on the second level we decided we would start to make our way down and try out a couple more slides before heading home.
I let the boys explore the playscape some more as I took a couple of minutes to check out the three birthday party rooms. The staff had just finished setting up for a party and were kind enough to let me check things out and take some pictures to share. The party rooms were right off the side of the play area with big windows which would make it easy to see everything going on both inside and outside of the room. Between the three separate party rooms, there were sliding barn style doors which could be opened up to combine two or all three of the party rooms for larger groups. I thought that was so cool. Billy Beez offers a variety of party options and themes. Ace was already asking to have his next birthday there.
Just as I finished checking out the party rooms, I heard an all too familiar little cry from Rex – I think his shorts rode up a little bit as he went down a slide and he got a little bit of a burn on his thigh. The staff at the Honey Cafe saw he was upset and were quick to get him a rubber glove filled with ice -which he thought was silly, making him laugh and forget almost instantly that he had just been crying. Since we were at the Honey Cafe, I tried again to get the boys to stop for a snack. I had a few minutes to check out the menu and there seemed to be a good variety of options. But, again, the kids spotted something exciting and quickly forgot about what brought us over to the cafe in the first place.
All of the big exciting slides and climbers, and where were my boys running to? The Toddler Play Zone/Mini Beez Area! Since it wasn’t a very busy night the staff said Ace, who was about 4-5″ too tall, could play in there with Rex. It ended up being some of the most fun they had while at Billy Beez. For a toddler play area , the space was really big and had tons of different things to do and play with. My boys loved sitting in the spinning drum and also swinging back and forth on the zipline. The Mini Beez area also featured smaller slides, climbing areas and tunnels – and a padded floor throughout the entire play zone.
Oh and did I forget to mention, Billy Bee himself was playing in the toddler area with the kids! They all got a kick out of Billy building with the blocks, playing and dancing along with the kids. I think I ALSO forgot to mention that Billy Beez had some really great music playing the whole time we were there which was a real plus in Mom’s book! The boys could have stayed and played all night, but it was getting late and we had a little bit of a ride home, so I promised the boys we’d come back again soon.
We all had a great time and I am sure over the cold winter months we’ll be seeing a lot more of Billy Beez.
You can also find them on Facebook.
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
All Admissions are good for the entire day with FREE re-entry
Infants (ages 0-12 months) – FREE with paid child/toddler – OR – $9.95 for infant + 1 adult
Toddler (ages 1-4yrs) – $11.95 – OR – Mega 10-pack for $95 (Includes 1 free adult per visit)
Child (ages 5-17yrs) – $14.95 – OR – Mega 10-pack for $120 (Includes 1 free adult per visit)
Adult (18+) – 1st adult – $3.95 (Weekends only – 2nd adult $6.95)
Seniors (65+) – FREE with paid child/toddler
Socks are required and available for purchase for $2.99
Stroller Friendly: YES
Coffee Mug Friendly: NO – although they did allow me to keep my ice coffee on the front counter to grab a sip from time to time
Baby Changing Station: YES
Parking: YES – lots of free parking
Food for Sale: YES
Outside Food Allowed: NO
Cash Required: NO – credit and debit cards are accepted
Dress Code: Socks are required – Parents can keep their shoes on unless they want to play. I would recommend comfortable play clothes.
Evening/Weekend Hours: YES
Discounts: Mega 10-Packs are available for discounted prices
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