The story of Chipmunks really is a Kiwi success story - originating in New Zealand, the pay for play concept of Chipmunks has now expanded across the ditch to Australia and into Indonesia.
Chipmunks' Playland and cafe's aim is to make sure the kids have fun in our superior playlands and playgrounds, which offer the latest, safest and best play equipment available . For all the parents out there - relax over a coffee in Charlies Cafe while the kids have fun in our New Zealand stores located in Whangarei, Pakuranga, Auckland - North Shore, Auckland - Mt Roskill, Auckland - Manukau, Auckland - New Plymouth, Taupo, Tawa, Wellington ,Tauranga,Christchurch - Cranford Street, Christchurch - Wigram, Dunedin, Nelson, Timaru and Invercargill. 2013 will be an exciting time for Chipmunks with sites secured for new stores coming to a town near you.
At Chipmunks Charlie has been hosting Kids Birthday Parties since 1998 with themed kids birthday parties now available.
I've taken Miss 6 and Master 3 to Chipmunks on numerous occasions over the past number of years, but I find that it is becoming more and more run down. There have been more than a couple of times when the ball guns weren't working at all, or something else was closed off for repair. The kids still seem to have fun, however Miss 6 did comment the last time we were there that it isn't as fun any more because things always seem to be broken or missing.
I do wonder if they are struggling as the last two times we went (after school), there were only 1 or 2 other people besides us. We have also noted that they are putting $2 coupons in the local papers to entice more customers, adding to my feeling they may be struggling more than in the past.
The other thing that has put me off a little is the strictness on not bringing in your own drink. I understand not bringing in food, however I think it's a little unfair to make people buy bottles of water instead of just bringing in their own drink bottles. Not everyone can afford to buy bottles of water, leaving kids at risk of dehydration.
I do like that on hot days they open up the big roller door on the side of the building which allows a cool breeze to float through. And I also like how there is a separate area for the under 5's to be able to play safely. However it is a bit difficult when you have one under 5 and one over 5, but the over 5 is not technically allowed to play in the same area her brother can.
On the whole it's still a good way to fill in a wet day, however I do think the quality of the facility as dramatically gone down-hill over the past few years and I won't be rushing to take the kids there unless we were really at a loose end with what to do one day.
Chipmunks Playland has been in Hamilton for several years now, and we have now been several times, both on our own and with groups of friends who have young children. The Hamilton Chipmunks Playground is situated in Maui Street out in Te Rapa which I find is an ideal location and not to far from where we live, although it is situated almost next door to a pub which I do find a little odd for a child's playground. There is a lot of parking available but it can sometimes be a bit of a tight squeeze to get in and out of the car park.
Our first visit to Chipmunks Playland was on a horrible wet day, Miss then 2 had been coped up inside all day and really needed to burn off some energy and so we decided to go and check the place out, well it seemed that the rest of Hamilton had the same idea as us, the place was packed, super busy and very, very loud! to be honest we didn't stay to long for this reason as Miss 2 was a bit stand offish! In saying that we have been back probably 4 or 5 times since and she has had a lot of fun!
Chipmunks is set out with 2 areas for different age groups, there is one fenced off section for under 5's and then a great big playground for 3-11 year olds. The under 5 area has a range of equipment for babies and children who are still testing out and developing their physical skills for example a ball pit, a large boat that moves from side to side, a musical keyboard and also a small version of what the bigger kids have complete with lots of different climbing ramps and slides. The older kids side however is like a maze of adventure with a humongous structure consisting of ramps, slides, tunnels and a great big inflatable slide. It also features a ball blaster which is my opinion is much to loud with the already loud volume from the children when they are playing.
Miss now 3 loves going to Chipmunks spending most of her time in smaller children's area, she has been with some of friends before and always has a blast! She loves going for rides on the train and the helicopters which they have there, these run every 15 minutes or so, however there is an extra charge to use these of $2 per child, per ride. I feel that this is a bit steep considering entry is already $9.90 for under 2 year olds and $12.90 for over 2 year olds. If you add food on top of this (you can't take your own in) it can't make quite an expensive trip to a playground, considering there are so many free parks in Hamilton, however this is sometimes a fun outing!
If you haven't been to Chipmunks Playland before id consider taking your kids along it is a lot of fun and they sleep well that night! Chipmunks also runs school holiday programmes and cater for birthday parties, which is always a good option to have. I'm sure we will be back to visit many more times over the coming years!
Visiting Chipmunks was a lifesaving tool for me when I was studying and looking after my niece during the week, we would head there and she would happily toddle around the indoor playground while I read through my text and make notes. I knew she was in an environment at completely safe and catered for children of her young age.
The equipment they had available kept her happy and out of my hair for at least 2 hours which was more than enough time for me to get a lot achieved study wise. Even as a two year old there was enough at the indoor playground that I didn't have to worry about her at all....she would look over see me and was happy to go about playing again...she especially loved getting into the ball pit and having a ball haha!
I think the cover charge when you walk through the door was okay at the time and adults accompanying a child didn't have to pay and you can stay for as long as you want and I like how they offer a service where you can drop of your child/children for an extra charge.
I recently went to a birthday party at Chipmunks and it has definitely changed and improved for the better I think. The charges had increased a lot which I was very surprised at but the playground equipment is way cool so I guess the cover charge has been well spent.
I wasn't at all impressed with the staff however...younger people behind the counter that didn't even smile when customers arrived and seemed like they didn't even want to be there. Saw them walking food out to customers and then they disappeared again..and talking about the food geez out an outrageous price!!
I am super glad that I don't visit Chipmunks often as I don't have children and my nieces are too old for most of the activities because with the not so great staff and the steep prices for an indoor playground these days it isn't anything special and most of the community based playgrounds seem a lot nicer and are free!
Growing up in Gore/Mataura/Invercargill there was never much to do, so it was fantastic when Chipmunks playland opened around the same time as my friends and I started our families.
Invercargill chipmunks staff are a lovely bunch of people, and all 3 of my children have very fond memories of play dates with their friends there. Whats more is you know your children are safe and happy, while you can relax with a cuppa in the cafe area. My daughter had her 4th birthday at Chipmunks and it couldn't have been easier. Regardless of the weather on the day, I knew that everything would be perfect. There is so much to do for little kids, and slightly older too, with gaming rooms, ball pits, mazes, ride ons, basketball hoops and so much more. It really is fantastic.
In Invercargill one of the biggest let downs is the lack of nearby parking. Being a childrens play area, and knowing how excited toddlers can be when they know where they are going, it is quite a nightmare knowing there is no actual car park and one must find suitable parking in the middle of the CBD to get there, without walking for miles for the nearest actual car park
Another let down (since they refurbished) is the ball cannons they now have in there. These are situated right next to the cafe and the kids love them. But for parents who are hoping for a few minutes time out, the peace is soon taken away from you because of these cannons...they are loud and obnoxious. Last time I took my daughter and her friend there, we all ended up leaving because the cannons were too over-bearing. Such a shame, as we have never been back since.
I have never taken advantage of the after school or care programmes though, so unsure how great they are or if they are worth while price wise.
We recently got a new Chipmunks in Hamilton. This is situated in Te Rapa near the Cock n Bull pub of all things. The location is the new "hottest place to be" part of town. Everyone and everything seems to be moving out that way. This makes it a good move to have an indoor playground out there, because:
(a) there are new residential people in that part of town looking for a good distraction for kids and
(b) it avoids being in direct competition with the other indoor playground in the CBD.
We arrived at Chipmunks around 11am. When we got there parking was nightmareish. I am not a very confident parker or driver, so this was horrible for me. Eventually I found a park I could get into and we got ourselves out. I only had to pay for my 5 year old which was good, but it was pricey compared to our regular place. I liked that it was nice and new and clean though. I quickly realised that we would be there a while, so I applied for a Chipmunk's Club card. This gets you 5% discount on food and things.
We ate lunch there and my daughter came back from playing every hour or so for a fresh drink. It was a very expensive day for that reason, but if you are not counting pennies or its a special day, I think it's warranted. My daughter was a bit skittish about some of the equipment and wouldn't go on the big slides. I was allowed to go up on some of the older children's equipment but I got a bit dizzy up that high myself. Still, it was good to have the freedom to go if my daughter needed help.
I liked the preschooler area, and my baby who was 9 weeks old at the time got a lot out of the water trampoline and some of the other play equipment. There were quite a few smiley moments and she broke out in her funny laugh too. I had to rescue her a couple of times from older children, just because they didn't understand that she couldn't move out of their way. I also liked that it was comfortable to breastfeed there. Totally important in my world. Nappy changing facilities were nice too, though the toilets were a bit far away from where the parents were seated.
There are a couple of pay-rides there which look exciting. I allowed one train ride, but I didn't want to pay for anything more than that. We stayed until they kicked us out, and even then my daughter was begging the manager to stay open. So its safe to say the place was a hit. I guess my main concern was the noise level inside. The air cannons are so loud. However, if you go when its not crazy busy the cannons are less in use and you can hear yourself think. I discovered this as we got closer to closing time.
My children and friends children always enjoy a trip out to chipmunks and it is a good place where we can meet up and let the children have a few hours of fun. The new chipmunks in Tauranga has a good variety of play equipment for children of all ages which is great as I can take my baby and he can have a go on the swing or in an exersaucer while my big girl can play on the big playground.
I find it quite expensive but it is secure and the cafe and everything is under one roof so it is a complete day out, rather than going to the park and then going off somewhere different for lunch. The cafes are quite expensive but the children's meals are pretty good although it would be good to see some more healthy options as they are mostly chips and nuggets.
When my daughter was younger she had a birthday party at chipmunks which was great as all the entertainment was already there and we had a special room for the children to have lunch and have the birthday cake. I would definetly consider having another party there when my son is older as my daughter has outgrown this style of party now.
Chipmunks in Invercargill is really great, it is run by a group of lovely ladies. Last year they added a "Ball Blaster" to their toys and my girls absolutely love it. They had an open day when it was first put in and oh my, there was so many people there and it was so loud. The ball blaster is really quite noisy, with the balls being pushed out of long shoots with air and when they are all going its very loud and hard to talk to anyone.
But they have now changed and updated them so they are less noisy. It is much more enjoyable. It means we can sit their while the kids play and enjoy a coffee and a chat.
I find the toys there great for children of all ages. My 7 & 4 years olds like to play on the blow up slide, and the ball blasters. While my 1 year old enjoys playing in the under 3 area and also in the play houses and toddler slides.
Chipmunks is a great place to take the family for a few hours.
One of my children had a birthday party there a few years ago and it was a lot of fun. The food they provided was good quality and they kids enjoyed getting to seeing Charlie Chipmunk. They provide a lot of fun for all the kids.
My 2nd child will be having a birthday party there early next year.
The food they serve is good quality but at times they can be a little slow at getting it to your table. But they are very busy. I don't mind waiting a little longer if the food tastes good.
We will continue taking our family to Chipmunks for a special treat. We are very luck to have them in our town.
Chipmunks Playland only opened in Hamilton in July although it has been around in other centres for years. I had been to the Tauranga one before but this was my first trip to the Hamilton one. I was a wet Sunday morning and the children needed to burn off some energy so i decided to take them to the indoor playground.
It cost $9.90 for my 2 year old and $12.90 for my four year old. This was much more than I had paid in Tauranga. On top of that I had to pay $2 for each child if they wanted a ride on the train or plane. It is not a cheap outing especially as you are not allowed to bring your own food (I saw them checking some bags.) The only plus was there was no charge for adults to enter.
We arrived in the carpark at 9:30 as it opened but I gave my children morning tea before we entered to save money and have some control over their sugar intake. We could see the giant play equipment through the window and the children were very excited. Parking wasn't a problem for us but when we left 2 hours later there were no free spaces and ours was snapped up the moment we vacated it.
There was a huge inflatable slide that displayed rules including for children aged 3-11 and no adults. My 2 year old was keen to have a go so I asked the staff member if she could and allowed it. My two year old was very slow to climb the inflatable steps and had a queue behind her but the other kids were all very considerate. She loved it and had several goes. My 4 year old also had a go but went feet first. I had a word to her about it but I'm sure the staff member would have said something as I'd seen him talk to others.
There is an area for under fives which has lots of stuff for children that are steady on their feet. There isn't too much for the babies except for a ball pit, floor keyboard and a water trampoline and I would have only used these with a baby if there hadn't been older pre-schoolers on them. This is where my children spent the majority of their time. There is huge climbing equipment so big that I couldn't find my kids but knew (or rather hoped) they were in their somewhere.There is also a rocking ship and a merry-go-round This area was fenced off but the gate always seemed to be left open. A latch like you have on a pool fence would have been great.
The area for the older kids was an even larger climbing structure with a huge triple slide. It also had cannons which shoot out foam balls onto the children below. The children collect these balls and they are sucked up a huge vacuum back up to the cannon. The noise these cannons make is incredible. I'm sure OSH would have something to say about it. There was one child I saw at Chipmunks with ear plugs in. A very wise move. My ears were ringing and my youngest was very grizzly due to the sound.
All the equipment was very new and clean as I would expect with a new place. We were expected to take our shoes off yet there was nowhere for us to put them. It was an extremely popular place and there were a couple of birthday parties going on while we were there. It was too crowded and noisy for my liking. If I was to go back again it would be on a school day when there are less people and hopefully there won't be as many cannons firing.
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