Review by Michelle Porter – local mom and PDX Kids Calendar reviewer
As a mom of 5, I’m always looking for new and fun things for my kids to do. During the rainy months, which can really be just about all of them, I’m especially interested in fun indoor options. Double points for indoor fun that has the option of coffee and free wi-fi for me. Dizzy Castle is the area’s newest installment of indoor playgrounds. Located in Vancouver, it’s a quick and easy drive from Portland. This place has it all: tons of slides, ramps, space to run for the kids, and healthy food options and a full-service coffee bar for the grown-ups.
My 4-year-old son, Ezra and I went to Dizzy Castle on a rainy morning last week. When we arrived I was immediately impressed with how clean and organized everything was. I’ve been to enough indoor playgrounds to know that they can easily feel grubby, overwhelming and chaotic. But Dizzy Castle has clearly put some thought into the layout and the overall feel of the environment. The space is a very large warehouse space that has been converted into a children’s dream land. There are colorful murals of dragons and pirates and a pretty spectacular play structure shaped like a castle and a pirate ship. The high ceilings of the warehouse space kept the noise of happy and active children at a manageable level and there are plenty of windows to make the space feel open and bright. We checked in at the front desk and were welcomed by the friendly and warm staff, then made our way inside. Ezra was a little overwhelmed at first and a little cautious about entering the play structure. Luckily, the structure is plenty big for grown-ups to explore, and parent participation is allowed and encouraged, so I tossed off my shoes and joined my son in exploring. We quickly came upon the ball shooting area, where kids could put soft balls into air shooters and send them across to the other side of the structure. Once Ezra caught on to this he scurried off to collect balls for shooting and was cautious no more. I sat up in in play structure for a while watching Ezra play happily. The structure felt sturdy and safe, with many fun areas to explore. It felt open enough that I never felt like I was going to lose track of my son or not be able to get to him if I needed to.
After Ezra had gotten settled in and I could tell I was no longer needed, I made way out into the seating area with my friend who was also there with her son. We were able to have a nice long chat, occasionally taking turns checking on the boys and making potty runs (to the very clean and well-stocked, family-friendly bathrooms).
As it got close to lunch time, we checked out the menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lots of simple, healthy options at reasonable prices. There are fresh made pizzas, salads, wraps and panini’s as well as a good sized kid menu with all the basics that kids love including PB&J, grilled cheese, bagel pizza, and such. Being a vegetarian and having a son that is on a gluten free diet, the menu options seemed a little limited for us, but then I noticed that the menu said there was a vegetarian and gluten free menu coming soon. I asked a staff member about it and she was super eager to tell me about all the vegan and vegetarian options they had on hand, including vegan lunch meats, cheeses and mayo. They are still working on the gluten free options, but she was very helpful in finding something Ezra could eat. I ended up getting a turkey and cheese panini with the vegan turkey and Ezra got a kids meal with string-cheese, baby carrots, apple sauce and milk. The food came out quickly – which when you are dealing with hungry kids who have been running around for hours, is truly essential. My son was delighted when his meal came in a paper pirate ship, an adorable touch, and my sandwich was truly delicious.
After lunch the boys played some more and continued to find fun spots to explore. My son particularly enjoyed the multiple slides and a climbing area over an alligator swamp! There was a great and handy little baby/toddler area that was completely separated from the “big kids” area for all the little guys. They also have complimentary iPads and wifi for the parents to use while their kids are playing. We ended up spending almost 4 hours there and my son could have stayed longer. We will most certainly be back.
Michelle and Ezra were given passes to visit Dizzy Castle at no charge on behalf of PDX Kids Calendar for review. She was in no-way compensated for her opinions.