Vienna’s winters are very dark, with relatively few hours of daylight. Between November and February, my kids leave the house before the sun has properly risen, and come home after it has set. We spend months only playing outside on the weekends, or in the dark (and cold) of early evening. It’s tough on all of us. The boys go a bit stir-crazy with tons of unspent energy, bouncing off the walls and bothering each other a lot more than usual, and I get absolutely frozen keeping vigil in the dusky playground while they brave the cold to climb and slide and swing a little.
I suspect that principally because of these long winter months, Vienna has several indoor “play parks”, but, until recently, we had never been to one. I only had a vague idea of what they entailed, but I imagined massive McDonald’s-play-area-style ball pits and plagues of flu and stomach virus running through the revelers, so we had never gone. Plus, my kids had never heard of them, so they weren’t asking to go. I would have happily lived through our Vienna experience, and just skipped it entirely.
But last fall, B and Liam were invited to a friend’s birthday party at “Monkipark“, one of these indoor play places at a shopping mall we’d never been to. B had heard all about it from the birthday boy, and he was so excited. I was still apprehensive, but happy to try it out.
It was not quite what I expected. It was HUGE inside, and crazy, and chaotic. In true Viennese style, the parents weren’t particularly hovering over their kids … and there were SO MANY kids, from toddlers to teenagers, running free in the play area. There was a massive, inflatable climbing and sliding area, where my boys ran first. (Being me, I did hover, so I went right along with them.) It was crazy, but it was great fun. It was like a giant, inflatable obstacle course. The boys climbed, balanced, swung, bounced, and slid down a two-story-high slide. And then they did it again. And again. And when they got tired of that, there was an indoor climbing wall, and soccer court, a ropes course (which was only for bigger kids), a bank of trampolines and a go-kart track. And that was in addition to the snack bar and the private party rooms where the birthday boy invited us all for chicken nuggets and birthday cake. It was impressive, and we all had a great time (though I still imagine that most kids come out of there with some illness they didn’t have before). We really enjoyed it, and I understand it better now. And it’s good that we liked it, because I’d put even odds that at least one of my guys will want to have their birthdays there this year.