October 16, 2007

Playdate At The Mall: Friends With You's Rainbow Valley Playground

clouds at Rainbow Valley

When I explained to the kid that I was going to Miami for a couple of days, she drew a blank. Then when I told her it was where the Malfi Playground was, she freaked out. And now I was on the hook.

So in between breakout sessions and the beachfront mingle, I popped over to the Aventura Mall just north of Miami Beach [and by "just," I mean 45 excruciatingly slow minutes behind drivers who have no interest in hurrying anymore; when it's their time, they'll go; they've had a full life. Oy.] See, Aventura Mall is the site of the Rainbow Valley Playground, which was created by the fine artists of Friends With You.

As you can see, it's situated right in front of Sears and Lenscrafters and some stores I don't recognize. There's guarded stroller parking. The place was packed, and everyone was short. Apparently, the big kids would just steamroller over the littler ones, so they took out a big pirate ship of some kind, and turned the whole thing into a 42 inches and shorter play area. I was a little skeptical that it'd actually work, that it might just look cute but be boring. But no, it has plenty of climbability, slides, nooks, things to crawl under, and enough padding to make everyone happy.

It's a real tribute to the mall people, frankly, and a great job by FWY. [I was slightly surprised that the mall also had digital projection art by Julian Opie, and an honest-to-goodness, Parisian street-style crepe counter. This may be the most culturally sophisticated mall programming I've ever seen. But then, I spend my life avoiding malls like the plague.

Anyway, I didn't know if photographs were allowed, and since I absolutely had to take some back to the kid, I didn't want to risk a lot of conspicuous snapping. Instead, I end up looking like a phonecamming lurker. Great. The attendant called the mall office for me, and scored the kid a limited-edition Rainbow Valley coloring book, though, so I do have proof of my visit. I suppose I'll have to bring her to Art Basel Miami Beach with me in December now...

Rainbow Valley plaground photoset
[daddytypes on flickr]
the Rainbow Valley Coloring Book is about 14 pages and $12.98, only at FWY or from a mall manager who knows what you're even talking about. [friendswithyou.com]
Previously: Road Trip! Rainbow Valley mall playground by FWY


We've drool over photos of that play area. I'd love to think that the mall in Annapolis would ever get something half that cool, but I'd settle for a consistent enforcement of a 42" and under rule. The first and last time Chad and I took our girl to the mall play area, it was full of kids as tall as I am, and yeah, the little ones were being knocked over left and right. Good on the Aventura Mall, for not only having a visually stunning play area, but caring enough to insure that it's used properly.

Wow, that is spectacular compared to the mall playgrounds we have in Dallas. Of course, it's Dallas, so what should I expect.

No....! 42" and under rules were the bane of my existence as a child. I was 4 foot tall by kindergarten. I remember vividly going to Six Flags Great Adventure and being too tall for the kids rides and too short for the roller coasters. The only ride I could go on where the spinning swings.

that's the most i've ever thought, and read about, mall playgrounds

[you and me both -ed.]

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