IN A NUTSHELL
- Awesome free indoor soft play area make this a perfect (and inexpensive) rainy day activity
- Tiring your children out with the kid’s activities might actually buy you some time to shop while they are content in their strollers
- Full of kid-approved favorite stores, including pet stores, toy stores, and children’s clothing stores
- Additional Children’s Activities for a small fee and a food court means you can easily make a whole day out of this.
- Large comfy lounge area by the food court in front of Sears and Toys R Us makes a great rest spot for tired parents or nursing moms
- You will probably be suckered into pay for the $4 train ride (make that $8 if your child is under 5, because you have to ride with them)
- If you have a child who is bounce house magnet, you might want to access the play area on the right side to avoid the indoor Bounce House room on the left.
The nearest bathroom is in Sports Authority. Go straight in and then all the way to the right. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything because one of the employees there was kind of rude when I asked if they had any workout DVDs “No, mam, this a a SPORTS store, not a DVD store. We only sell sporting goods” Jeez! Excuse me for trying to stay in shape, and for the record, I have bought work out DVDs at Sports Authority before. Good for you, Sports Authority Employee of the year.
I heard about this place and had been wanting to go. Living in town “our” mall is Ala Moana. Pearlridge if we need something specific (or less expensive than Ala Moana), Kahala pretty much doesn’t do anything for me.
Windward Mall knocked the pants off of all other malls on the island, at least in terms of being family-friendly. It isn’t very big, so as a parent you won’t get that immediate migraine you might find yourself with when overwhelmed with the idea of running an errand with a toddler or two in tow. Plus it seems like this mall was built for parents as everything about it is so kid friendly!
First and foremost is the Hokulea Voyage of Discovery Play Area. It’s alright if you didn’t know it had a name, I don’t think most people do. This is an indoor “soft” play area that is modest in size and great for the under 42 inches crowd. Hokulea means “Star of Gladness” and it was the name given to a canoe that the Polynesian Voyaging Society sailed around the Hawaiian Islands and to Tahiti as part of the State of Hawaii’s bicentennial project. The purpose of the voyage was to show that the ancient Polynesians could travel these distances without the use of modern charts of instruments.
The play area consists of a carpeted area (everyone must remove their shoes) with a large green hilly structure with faux waterfall slides and tunnels, as well as a boat, which also features a slide. There are also smaller animals, including a turtle and a shark low to the ground so even babies that are still just “cruising” can participate in the fun.
In addition to the soft play area, there are several coin-operated “rides” including a few that seat more than one child. This helps if you have more than one child and would like to avoid turning your entire wallet into quarters. On the day we went, we were “celebrating” the fact that my daughter used the bathroom at preschool. Seriously. She’s been potty trained for quite some time (she’ll be three in May) but would hold it for the entire day until I got there because she was too shy to ask her teachers. Since it was a day for celebration, I went ahead and let her do both the bus (which had a cool movie going on inside of it as if you were really driving on the street) and the merry-go-round. While she insisted that I squeeze my 26-year-old butt into the little bus ride, I went ahead and asked a parent nearby if their kid wanted to do the merry-go-round with her as it seats three. The rides were very affordable with most of them being 50-75 cents.
If the play area and the rides weren’t enough, there is also a fully operational TRAIN that travels around the ground floor of the mall! You board at the food court (near Sears and Toys R Us) and it travels from there, through the center pavilion and around the play area and then back to its starting place at Sears. It puffs out “smoke” and makes the toot toot noise and everything. The only downside is that it’s $4 to ride, and if your child is under 5 (which is probably 75% of their target audience) a parent MUST ride with them! And no, you can’t tell them that your two and a half year old IS five, I tried. So that makes it an $8 affair, more if you have more than one child, but like I said, we were celebrating. I have to admit, I did feel a little silly when all the diners at Ruby Tuesdays were waving at us and I felt compelled to wave back, in spite of the fact that I am a full grown adult (most of the time).
If the Play Area, Train, and Rides trifecta wasn’t enough, there is also the most adorable pet store. We stopped in and saw teeny tiny Chihuahua puppies, baby chicks, fish, turtles, exotic birds, rabbits, and the weirdest thing of all… hairless guinea pigs… which kind of scared me at first.
On the particular day that we went, they were preparing for the Easter Bunny to visit, and there was also a performance by Kailua Intermediate School Band – which was kind of adorable if – like me – you played the clarinet in 7th grade and remember the days of desperately trying to find a white shirt, black skirt and a fully intact reed somewhat fondly now that it’s all over and you never have to do it again. All in all it definitely gave you the feeling of a small town family-friendly mall.
In short, I can’t think of a better place to go next time you need to grab a birthday gift or just need to spend a rainy afternoon out of the house. See you there!