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Family Fun Centers: Not Fun For Families

Submitted by Danny Grubb

There are some things in life that you do not expect to be true, but invariably are.

One situation that proves this point for me occurred a few months before the twins were born. I was having a conversation about diaper and poop habits of newborns and the person I was talking to used the word "blowout". I had never heard that word before, but immediately knew what it meant. I also didn't believe such a horrifying thing could happen, but it does... often.

Another thing I didn't expect to be true is that Family Fun Centers aren't "Fun".

The Myth Of The Family Fun Center

For those who aren't familiar with the concept of a Family Fun Center, these are places where you can play miniature golf, video games, and let your kids play in the bouncy castle all under one roof. Surely such a facility would provide tons of entertainment for the entire family.

I have fond memories of one when I was a teenager, but I haven't been to one since.

We had never taken our kids to a Family Fun Center before, but my wife and I were optimistic that it would be a positive experience. What happened instead defied all logic.

Meltdown Factor #1: Too Much Sugar

Although we control the sugar intake of our kids (i.e. no Soda and very rarely sugary candy), no other parents in this establishment seemed to follow this philosophy. Their kids were literally bouncing off of each other. I saw head butts no less than five times.

This stressed our children out. They were scared of all of these kids screaming and knocking everyone in their path over between gulps of soda from their supersized cups. They literally didn't know how to handle a sugar high and their parents didn't look interested in showing them.

Meltdown Factor #2: Lack Of Supervision

We stayed close to our kids, but many parents were notably absent. This was made obvious by the fact that every 15 minutes or so we would see a staff member leading a 3 or 4 year old around looking for their parents.

How did these parents lose their kids? Many theories were bounced around, but from watching the other parents I finally settled on (based on smell and behavior) that they were getting high in the parking lot. Apparently they would drop their kids in the Fun Center, buy them a soda, and leave in the hope that the staff there would babysit their offspring for an hour.

The Truth About Family Fun Centers

Of course I can't speak for every one of these establishments in every city, but be wary parents! These places have the potential to deliver the opposite of their promise. The 2 hour trip to this place effectively ruined our day.

By the time we left our twins were in knock-down, fist-pumping fits. We dragged them back to the car, being head-butted and kicked the entire way. They were tired and angry. They have never reacted this badly to anything and in my wildest dreams I didn't think this could happen at the Family Fun Center.

We have learned our lesson and will see you at the Park.

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