DreamPlay or Kidzania? That was the mind-boggling decision we had to make one sunny weekday. Based on what we’ve heard at that point in time, Kidzania is a nice place that allows kids to “work” as firemen, cashiers and the like, while DreamPlay is closer to a traditional amusement park. Each one has its own virtues, we know, but because we wanted something more physically challenging that day, we chose DreamPlay. While sitting at the restaurant section of DreamPlay, we thought of 7 reasons why we must come back here — the same reasons why you should visit DreamPlay.
1. Fully airconditioned
The best things in life are free, it has been said. But it looks like that’s the general rule. Sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll have to spend a lot of money on electricity to run a battalion of air conditioners in order to cool a high-ceiling fun space. From the time you step off the parking area and into the City of Dreams Manila, and while walking through the aisle towards DreamPlay, you’ll be treated to extreme air-conditioning, you’ll forget that you’re in a tropical country currently in the middle of El Nino.
2. No Saving in Line
It’s really sad that it’s only recently when Filipinos learned to fall in line — from jeepneys and canteens, to the rides in amusement parks. We’re getting there, yes, but it will take much longer for the practice to securely sink in our national, collective psyche. Our proof? Just look at jeepneys and buses jockeying for position along EDSA. Until ALL these drivers learn the value of falling in line, President Aquino’s appointment of Secretary Rene Almendras, and the designation of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to maintain order in EDSA, would remain a cosmetic palliative that is meant to achieve nothing else but increasing his ratings and boosting his successor’s chance of winning the next elections.
The act of cutting in line is seriously offensive to one’s sense of fairness. There’s something more insidious than the offensive act of not falling in line — falling in line, getting out of it but leaving one or two on the line, doing something else in the meantime, then cutting the line to go back to where the companions are. It’s the act of saving one’s space in the line. And it’s not acceptable. We fall in line as individuals, not as a group. So if anyone leaves the line to go somewhere else or for any reason whatsoever, that person should NOT be allowed to go back to his/her original position. He/she must start at the end of the line.
It would do well for places like Enchanted Kingdom to train its personnel, and create its infrastructure, to ensure compliance with this good rule. The last time we visited Enchanted Kingdom, we had to call the attention of the park’s staff to the practice of many groups to ask one person to fall in line, with the rest of the group coming on much later. This is highly unfair because a lot of us has been on the line for the Space Shuttle for almost two hours. So, Enchanted Kingdom, please learn from DreamPlay.
When we visited DreamPlay, we were pleasantly surprised to see this rule written in black and white on posters. The best thing about it? They implemented the rule. Nice one, DreamPlay. Please keep it up.
3. DreamWorks Characters
DreamPlay features characters from movies of DreamWorks. The Penguins of Madagascar are there in more than one form. Sure, the main characters of Madagascar are lovable but we better enjoyed watching a bunch of confidently scheming penguins (see what we did there, Pia Wurtzbach?) at this amusement park. There’s Po the Kung Fu Panda, with his martial arts challenge. There’s a puppet show, which we missed because we ran out of time (we got the 4-hour ticket; you can also choose the 2-hour pass, which is cheaper; see the list of ticket prices below).
4. The Stairway to Heaven and the Wall of Destiny
We have a favorite ride or two in each amusement park. For DreamPlay, we have two favorites — the Stairway to Heaven and the Wall of Destiny. The Stairway to Heaven consists of increasingly taller posts, a few feet apart (the tallest post gets real close to the ceiling), that the challenger must climb. Those with fear of heights would find the climb up the Stairway to Heaven really scary, but there’s a more scary part — jumping off the tallest post. Yep, the challenger must jump. While there’s a harness attached to the waist, it must be terrifying to leap into nothingness. Try it and tell us what you think (or feel?).
The Wall of Destiny is not that scary. It’s just a vertical climb up a rock wall. It’s basically wall climbing in an air-conditioned amusement place. The Wall of Destiny, plus the number of tube slides at DreamPlay, would keep kids preoccupied and having fun.
There are other fun rides and activities, of course. The Kung Fu Panda Dojo is perfect for those inclined in karate or martial arts, or those who just want to play copycat with the digital grand masters projected on the wall.
At Madagascar’s Whatever Floats Your Boat, the kids can design and BUILD their boats, and join those scheming penguins — Skipper, Private, Rico, and Kowalski — race around an actual water race course. 4-D movies are showing at the DreamTheatre (at the ticket counter, you are given a schedule of the movies, as well as the other shows, like the puppet show at the DreamTales Library). As noted, we skipped the puppet show to maximize our 4-hour allotted time (see the entrance rates below).
5. Baking with Gingy
There’s a reason why cooking shows are popular. Maybe we all are frustrated chefs. It’s also possible that our primal urge to eat responds well to those delicious treats prepared before our eyes. Whatever the reason is, little kids love imitate chefs and bakers. One attraction in DreamPlay is cooking with Gingy. We were unsure who Gingy is, at least before we went inside the baking area. When we saw Shrek and Donkey on the kitchen’s video wall, we figured he’s the GIngy of the Shrek movies. It’s called Gingy’s Kitchen, we found out.
Gingy is a baked goodie, which is the reason why we find it half disturbing that Gingy likes to bake. That makes him a carnivore of sorts. Or carbivore to be more precise. Not that it matters because we didn’t see the guy walking around DreamPlay. What we saw were excited pre-schoolers wearing a white chef’s hat. Yep, the good news is that they give all participants — who must fall in line to get in (waiting time of 30 minutes or so) — a white hat. The bad news? You must leave the hat when you leave the baking area. We’re cool with that because the entrance fee already includes the baking class.
6. Professionalism of the Crew
An amusement park, in our opinion, is not about the rides and other physical infrastructure; it’s more of the crew that makes the place hum and be converted into a fun place. If we use this standard, amusement parks like Splash Island, Manila Ocean Park, and the Enchanted Kingdom has a lot of catching up to do. The crew of DreamPlay sounds, looks, and acts like true professionals. They evince a genuine concern for the welfare and happiness of guests. They are firm with the rules, yet respectful at the same time. They make suggestions on how to go around this fun place. And even if the crew may be tired (we only assume that they are tired after a long day), the look of joy and the genuine smile never vanish from their face. Great job, DreamPlay. Please keep it up.
7. Must. Stay. Open.
There are Philippine destinations that we badly want to stay open. The Science Museum is one. DreamPlay is one more. While DreamPlay is not exactly cheap (P880 per head for kids, a bit pricey compared to the P600+ of Enchanted Kingdom which has way more rides and fun attractions; see full rates below), it’s standard of service and entertainment must remain to challenge every service-oriented establishment in the Philippines. DreamPlay is world class. We must encourage world-class establishments in the Philippines by patronizing it. So, visit DreamPlay every chance you get. Go. Now.
How much? Entrance fee depends how many hours you intend to stay inside DreamPlay (you wear an electronic bracelet to track the number of hours you stay inside). In general, it’s cheaper for adults and on weekdays. For weekdays, the rates are P480 for for kids and P260 for adults (good for 2 hours); P680 for kids and P300 for adults (4 hours); P1,200 for kids and P350 for adults (daily rate). Toddler rate (2-4 years old) is fixed at P50, regardless of the number of hours. In case of extension of time, the rate is P250 for kids and P120 for adults.
For holidays/weekends, the rates are P600 for for kids and P330 for adults (good for 2 hours); P880 for kids and P400 for adults (4 hours); P1,500 for kids and P680 for adults (daily rate). Toddler rate is P100. The extention rate is P300 for kids and P150 for adults. TIP: if you choose the 2-hour or 4-hour package, make sure to apportion your time wisely ; prioritize the portions with fixed schedules, then insert the other portions in between.
How to get there: Going to DreamPlay is easy. It’s found inside the hotel-casino complex called City of Dreams Manila, located at the Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Entertainment City, Parañaque, Manila, Philippines (telephone no. +632-800-8080). To make it easier, just head on to the SM Mall of Asia. The City of Dreams is around 5 minutes from SM MOA.