Imaginia Playland at Emporium

26 August 2015, BKK Kids

Opened in mid-August 2015, Imaginia Playland occupies an area of 1,400 square meters on the third floor of The Emporium Department Store in the EmPlayground Zone. The space features 19 interactive play areas designed to engage and delight children 2 to 10 years in age.

By interactive, this means that many of the stations involve screens or some sort of technological feature with specific ways to play (i.e, they do not encourage open-ended play). The Shadow Forest, for example, superimposes kids’ images with various scenarios, allowing them to sprout wings, get transformed into a tree or become a gnome. An Art Gallery reproduces interactive masterpieces from around the world; children do puzzles, examine painting features or answer specific questions. The Wonder Car lets kids colour and design a car from a touch screen, beaming their creations on an actual vehicle in front of them. And the Sound Cloud has children pulling flashing “raindrops” to the beat of a tune.

Many of these interactive stations only managed to hold our kids’ attention for a few minutes, unfortunately. For us, highlights involved more traditional modes of play such as the Time Tube Slider where kids zip through a lighted tube (they loved this!); an inflatable climbing structure; and the Dream Jungle and Dragon Cave, a huge net, with built-in curves, obstacles, a slide and trampolines, that serves as a climbing structure.

For a break from vigorous play, the Imaginia Town Hall, a 180-degree curved screen for storytelling in English and Thai, and a small library provide good down time activities; the latter has many children’s books in English and Thai. Kids can also visit a Builders’ Studio to play with construction toys or do some crafts or colouring in the Art Cabin.

Other play areas include stations for young DJs to work on their mixsets (pretty cool but some songs are inappropriate for children and the headphones do not have maximum volume controls), bicycles in a simulated setting and shadow play. Toddlers can enjoy some of the activities; there is a dedicated climbing frame for younger children, as well as the Knight’s Circle, an open area with “stones” that light up to music.

Imaginia Playland is relatively expensive compared to other indoor play centres in Bangkok; pricing is by height and most of the target demographic (101 centimetres and up) would be charged at the maximum rate of 500 baht for 3 hours. However, there are membership packages available with reduced rates.

On the whole, Imaginia Playland is worth checking out for a fun morning or afternoon of play. But on repeat visits, as kids get familiar with the stations and set-up, they may get bored, especially if the interactive activities do not change.

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