- Great for even the youngest children
- The Hours (close early)
- Pricey Membership
Be Sure to Check Out:
In addition to all the amazing exhibits, there is a giant lite brite on the first floor near the entrance on the left.
The Children’s Discovery Center is the ideal rainy day outing for restless children. Actually, it is the ideal activity for any occasion because it really is that much fun.
Although I had heard of the Children’s Discovery Center, I put off going because I thought my daughter was too young to enjoy it. I could not have been more wrong. Younger babies can enjoy watching the older children play and manipulate the activities, the play areas are sturdy enjoy for handling from even the roughest toddler and most of the exhibits are adaptable for any age.
Additionally there is a specific area, the “Tot Spot,” for the very young. The center’s Web Site describes the Tot Spot as being for children 5 and under, but that is stretching it in my opinion. My daughter was already over the “baby” area and on to the big kid exhibits by the time she was one and a half. And given that the center closes at 1pm on weekdays, we did not want to waste time on toys she can see at a McDonald’s play place when there were so many amazing other things to see.
The Children’s Discovery Center can best be described as a cross between a Children’s Museum and a gigantic pretend play house where children can pretend to be anything from a bus driver, actress, store clerk, or even Filipino. And I am not just saying that, the third floor exhibit “Our Rainbow World” features a variety of cultures with clothing and shoes for children to try on, and little rooms in the design of each respective culture.
The first floor begins with “Fantastic You!” an inside look at the human body. While the educational aspect of this exhibit might allude the younger crowd, the giant “stomach” which children can crawl through (filled with pretend food and bean bags) will be sure to please. And as an adult, I enjoyed the “foot prints” from everyone to Obama to Kristi Yamaguchi.
The next exhibit on the first floor is the “Your Town” exhibit. This is literally a miniature child-size town where children can climb into the firehouse, “drive” a bus, watch themselves as a new anchor in the studio, play with the cash register in a grocery store (complete with mini shopping carts and groceries lining the walls.)
They can even be an actress in the local theater, complete with a fully stocked backstage dressing room, lighted mirror, and buttons to adjust the stage lights, mood music, or even evoke applause or laughter. The theater was my daughter’s favorite part of the trip, but she also enjoyed the pediatrician’s office. Here children can throw on a white lab coat, grab the clipboard (with real pen and paper so kids can get the full effect), weigh the babies, take their temperatures, and even put x-rays up on a light board. Honestly, I was having as much fun as my daughter. “Your Town” is every imaginative kid’s dream.
The second and third floors are a lot smaller than the first, but are just as thorough and interactive. While the first floor caters to younger children, the upper floors are more educational and have more to offer older children. The second floor is all about Hawaii, and takes visitors from the plantation days all the way too modern Hawaii. The third floor, “Your Rainbow World” features pretend homes from a variety of cultures.
Unfortunately, we did not have as much time for the top two floors because the Children’s Discovery Center closes at 1pm on weekdays. This is truly a shame because one could easily spend hours on the first floor alone. We were advised to go after 10nam on weekdays to avoid the crowds from school trips and sure enough, when we arrived around 10:30, we saw a ton of school buses and school children eating lunch on the grounds outside of the discovery center. There was no crowd at all once we got in, and it really added to our experience since my daughter did not have to share the exhibits with others.
But given the cost, which was $16 total, $8 for each of us, it seems a shame that we could only stay there till 1 pm. The employees were nice enough to go around and suggest people check out the upper floors since the center closes soon, but I used to be a waitress, I know every kind way to let people know it’s closing time. My daughter would have gladly gone the whole day without food or drink if she could have stayed, which is saying a lot for a kid whose first word was practically “Snack.”
On weekends, the Discovery Center stays open till 3pm, but I imagine it is a lot more crowded. While memberships are available they are awfully pricey. The Discovery Center is $150 for a ONE-child family. It’s an additional $50 to add another family member to that. I would have to take my daughter ten times a year for it to be worth it, and while I doubt she would complain, I would rather keep this place a special occasion destination. When I was growing up, places like the water park, or the amusement park, or even Chuck E Cheese were things that we would look forward to for weeks. And the anticipation made it all the more fun. I consider the Children’s Discovery Center to be one of those places. Make a big deal about it before you go, watch your children’s eyes light up at all the fun in front of them, and expect them to take fantastic naps afterward.
I have to make a note about this because people on internet forums have said that the center is difficult to find and that they drove in circles looking for it. It is a giant building painted pastel colors with bright stars on it at Kaka’ako Beach Park. Turn makai (towards the ocean) on Ohe street from Ala Moana Boulevard. Keep driving toward the beach, staying on Ohe Street. The street will steer slightly left. Look for a giant yellow building with blue poles coming out of it and a star on the side. Plenty of parking is available at the actual building, but even if that lot is full, there are tons of other parking spaces in Kaka’ako Beach Park.
For more information visit the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center Web Site: http://www.discoverycenterhawaii.org or call (808) 524-5437