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Type: A water-filled play area
Our Take: It will be hard to drag kids away
Woody’s KidZone turns into a water park in this elaborate play area themed after the illustrated books about George, the playful monkey, and his friend The Man in the Yellow Hat. Expect your kids to get sopping wet here and enjoy every minute of it.
The fun begins innocently enough with a small tent housing a play area for very young children. Nearby is one of those padded play areas with jets of water shooting up from the ground in random patterns. Little ones still in diapers love it. But the main attraction lies a few steps farther along, in the town square. On opposite sides stand the Fire Department and the City Waterworks, dubbed “City H2O.” On the second floor balcony, five water cannons let kids squirt those below, and high above is a huge water bucket that fills inexorably with water and, with the clanging of a warning bell, tips over, sending a cascade of water into the square below as kids scramble to position themselves under it for a thorough and thoroughly delightful soaking.
Behind the facades of this cartoonish town square lies a two-level, kid-powered, waterlogged obstacle course. All sorts of cranks, levers, and other ingenious devices give kids a great deal of control over who gets how wet. Most kids take to it with fiendish glee. The concept isn’t unique to USF, but the version here is one of the best in recent memory.
When your kids are ready for a change of pace, they can repair to the Ball Factory, behind the town square. This cheerfully noisy two-level metal structure is filled with thousands of colored soft foam balls. The noise comes from the industrial strength vacuum machines that suck balls from the floor and send them to aimable ball cannons mounted on tall poles or to large bins high overhead. Some vacuums send balls to stations where kids can fill up mesh bags with balls they then take to the second level balcony to feed into the ten “Auto Blasters” that let them shoot balls at the kids down below. It’s a scene of merry anarchy and many adults quickly get in touch with their inner child and become active participants in the chaotic battle raging all about. Those ball bins, like the water buckets outside, tip over periodically, pummeling eager victims below and replenishing the supply of balls.
This is one attraction that can keep kids happily occupied for hours on end. It will also appeal to the older kids in your family who might find some of the other offerings in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone too “babyish.” It’s not unusual to see ever-so-hip young teens thoroughly enjoying themselves as they splash about with their younger siblings.
Tip: Bring a towel and a change of clothes for the kids if the weather’s cool. If you want to avoid getting wet, follow the marked “dry path” to the Ball Factory. This is also a good activity to schedule just before you leave the park, either for the day or for a nap-time break.
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