A few months ago, my husband, son, and I were cruising the (Walden) Galleria Mall and stumbled upon a newly-opened Billy Beez (BB). We didn’t bother going in for two reasons: the first was that it seemed too advanced for our 2-year old, and the second was that it seemed kind of expensive. I felt that same reluctance last week when asked to pay this place a visit… but, I opted to take one for the team, just so Buffalo Moms everywhere could get the scoop about BB!
Overview: I’m a bee-liever (see what I did there?).
There’s a lot going on at this place, so I did my best to provide you with the BB Cliff’s notes by taking you through our experience below. Warning: this post gets a little long, but I thought it was important to be detailed for moms that are really wondering what this place is all about.
Upon arrival at BB, you will purchase your tickets and receive a wristband at the front desk. The band’s purpose is two-fold. It indicates that you have purchased a ticket and also provides added security. The staff at BB takes a photo of your child(ren) and links it to a QR code on your own bracelet. Bracelets are checked upon arrival and departure to make sure that the children you leave with are the same ones you came with. Also, the code allows BB staff to identify children, should they become separated from their parents inside the Play Arena. Bonus points for added security, BB. You know what mama likes!
Once inside the park, there are several things to engage children of all ages, including:
- Play Arena – A rainforest-themed play area full of twisting slides, obstacle courses, climbing areas, and more. It’s almost like an in-air fort that kids can just travel around in for hours and hours. There are several kinds of slides, and they get pretty steep. That said, the entire play arena is friendly for kids AND adults. There was plenty of room for me to crawl, climb, and slide with my little guy. There were parents/grandparents of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. And, from the looks of the people I bumped into, the parents were having just as much fun as the kids were! (Warning: I found it to be slightly overwhelming at first, but after climbing around for a while, I got the hang of it and was able to figure out how to get us to the slides my son loved.)
- Infant/Toddler Only Area – This was a great little fenced-in space that was a safe-zone for smaller kids. Ben and I would pop in here throughout our visit, mostly so I could catch my breath (climbing is hard work, you guys!). Truth be told, my little guy loved the mini climbing area and slides that he was able to navigate on his own. There were also soft blocks for stacking and small, squishy riding toys for infants.
- Ball Blaster Arena – The lower level is filled with soft, foam balls. Kids could eithier play and toss them around or go up to the second level where there were air-powered guns that allowed them to shoot the balls below. Of course, my child immediately started throwing balls at everyone in the room (mortifying). Thankfully, the balls are soft enough that no one got hurt and everyone was a pretty good sport about it.
- Soccer Field – There was also a screened-in area where kids could play soccer. We didn’t spend much time in there only because it was set up for one person at a time (one soccer ball) and it usually had people in it. It seemed fun, but I do wish it was set up for more people to enjoy at once.
Jess’s Tips for Billy Beez Success:
- Bring two pairs of socks (per person). Socks are required for play, and ours got pretty dirty over the duration of our visit. I was glad to have spare pairs for us to change into after things were said and done.
- Leave valuables in the car. There are only open cubbies to put stuff in. So, if you can’t live without it, I don’t recommend bringing it in. I carried my credit card, license, and cell phone on me. I did lose my cards while on a slide (thankfully someone found them and turned them in). Next time, I plan to wear workout pants that have a zippered pocket, so I can zip my card in there and forget about it! Which leads me to my next recommendation…
- Wear workout clothes. Because climbing is hard, sweaty work and the knees of your dark skinny jeans will thank you for not destroying them by crawling for two hours.
- Bring water for your little ones. Food and drink are generally not allowed in, but you are allowed to bring in the standard diaper-baggable items for little ones. I brought a sippy cup of water for Ben and I was sure to make him take a few pit stops to hydrate. Your bracelet will let you in and out of BB all day, so you can also pop out to grab food or drink at the mall’s food court if you’d like. (I definitely rewarded myself with a raspberry Mr. Smoothie for my “research” efforts.)
- Play with your kids (if you can). I’ll admit that it’s not often that I really get to just play with my son. Between work and other responsibilities, our one-on-one time is limited. And, he’s rambunctious and always on the go. I spend more time chasing after him than playing most of the time. BB afforded us 2.5 hours of running, jumping, laughing, and sliding together. It was perfect! I got a little emotional watching him navigate through tunnels and slides, completely fearless. I won’t forget those laughs and “Come on, momma!!”s. If your kids are older, or you are just not feeling it, there is ample seating to relax in while your kids play. (That said, I think kids of a certain age definitely need someone with them for some of those slides.)
- Go during the week. Weekends get crazy. It’s the mall, and there are birthday parties. With my little guy being on the young/small side, I opted to take a half day from work and go during the week, and I was glad I did. There was a manageable amount of people there and we were able to play without me feeling like he was going to be body checked by anyone (or worse, get lost)!
Like I said before, I am a bee-liever! Billy Beez was a great way to spend a few hours laughing and playing with my son. The only “points” I took off for our experience were because of price. A day at BB for the family could get a little pricey, but if you’re wondering if it’s worth the price tag… I’d have to say yes! If you’ve been on the fence about letting your kid(s) try out Billy Beez, I encourage you to give it a try! And, if you have any tips for success or comments/recommendations of your own, please feel free to leave them below!
Special thanks to Billy Beez for offering Buffalo Moms free admission in exchange for this review! Our wristbands were provided, but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
WRITTEN BY JESSICA
Jessica Christensen is a communications professional by day and a wife and mommy (to an awesome little boy) by night. When she’s not chasing both of her favorite redheads around, she’s silently correcting your grammar and talking up St. Bonaventure University. Follow her @PRJESSICAC.