Calling all Mouseketeers! A Disney Junior Play Zone—the first and only one in the Northeast—had its grand opening at Menlo Park Mall this past weekend. Located on the upper level near Nordstrom, the brand-new, FREE indoor play space features all your kids’ favorite Disney Junior characters—Mickey Mouse and Friends, Puppy Dog Pals, Muppet Babies, and more—in interactive displays, climbable play sets, and a variety of games and activities.
New Jersey families are no stranger to the hustling and bustling Menlo Park Mall. Located near several major highways, the shopping mecca is the perfect place for our region's inaugural Disney Junior Play Zone (the other three locations are in Texas malls). Already home to other family-friendly favorites including Rainforest Cafe, Color Me Mine, and Build-A-Bear, this 1.26-million-square-foot shopping destination now offers parents of young kids yet another reason to visit.
Read on, and get ready to play ‘til you drop!
Unlike most indoor mall play areas that have a height cutoff of 42 inches, there’s something for everyone at the Disney Junior Play Zone. The open floor plan is divided into two separate areas—one designated for toddlers and another for children up to 10 years old.
Even little ones can play the Fancy Nancy game on touch-screen computers.
The front section of the play zone welcomes kids to walk through a life-sized pair of Mickey ears. A “Puppy Dog Pals” light-up dance mat encourages happy feet to get moving by stomping on the piano keys. Turn the corner to hear tunes from “Vampirina” coming from built-in wall speakers, or play an 'fangtastic' game of tic-tac-toe on the wall. Good luck pulling your “Fancy Nancy” fan away from the touch screen computer games.
RELATED: Free Indoor Play Spots for NJ Kids
Go for a (pretend) ride in vehicles from "Mickey and the Roadster Racers."
The toddler-friendly zone toward the back of the play area is centered with kid-sized roadsters from “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.” If your kiddos have dreams of becoming race car drivers, they can jump behind the wheel of the red and pink cars to cruise Hot Dog Hills. A third red roadster, Mickey’s Garage Slide, features a wide sliding ramp with a crawling tunnel underneath, perfect for tiny thrill-seekers.
Visit Minnie's Bow-Tique to check out some of Minnie's latest designs.
Minnie’s Bow-Tique invites mini fashionistas to turn the revolving dressing room door to see Minnie and Daisy modeling some of Minnie's designs. Colorful and engaging wall-mounted puzzles and games keep little hands busy. Several big TV screens mounted up high play a continuous loop of popular Disney Junior shows and the padded floor is covered in thick carpeting that changes color and theme as you move from station to station.
A restroom in the back corner provides for convenient diaper changes and potty breaks so you don’t have to leave the play zone and trek through the mall to find the bathroom.
This, and other parent perks will make you want to spend just as much time in the Disney Junior Play Zone as your kiddos. Take a seat on one of the comfy perimeter benches, with cubbies below to store your tot’s shoes. No shame in excessive photo or video taking—charging stations allow you to juice up your phone while you take a break, relax, and watch your kids play. The stroller-friendly floor plan lets you keep your ride close by.
You’ll probably need it. I saw many crying kids being wheeled away once playtime was over. But we bet that after an hour or so romping through this magical fun zone, you’ll be guaranteed a quiet car ride home; or at least a peaceful stroller nap while you finish up your shopping trip.
All photos by the author.