Tag Archives: fun

Dibo Village, Mokdong

Dibo Village

This week’s Preschool Adventures in Seoul took us south of the Han River to a themed children’s indoor play park called Dibo Village (website in Korean only). (There’s another Dibo Village in Jung-gu, which I’m sure we’ll visit sometime in the near future!) This particular Dibo Village was fantastic, and one huge plus–the food was actually pretty decent, something I can’t say for many of the kid’s cafes and indoor play places we’ve been to. And for moms who don’t often get to enjoy a nice, quiet meal, this is important!

Of the indoor play parks that we’ve been to, Dibo Village is one of the best, not just because of the food. 😉 It’s well-organized, and there is a plethora–yes, I said plethora!–of things for kids to do. Of course, they have the obligatory bounce house, ball pits, and playground structure, which are sure to keep your kids busy for hours, but Dibo Village also offers a theater show with real characters in costume, cooking classes, arts and crafts classes, a sandbox, and a 3D show!

Dibo Village Sandbox

All of the organized activities are on a schedule, and times are very clearly listed on signs outside the various classroom/play areas. Instructor certifications are also posted outside the classrooms (for example, the instructor who leads the cooking class is trained and certified to teach cooking classes). Most of these activities are about 15-20 minutes long, so your kids will have plenty of time to play and participate in the activities. The language barrier is always less of an issue for kids than it is for adults, but don’t worry because the manager of this Dibo Village SPEAKS ENGLISH! He was very friendly and worked hard to ensure that the children (as well as the moms) were having a great time.

Also, of all the kids’ play parks that I’ve been to, the staff here (not only the manager) was very attentive to the children’s needs, particularly in the baby/toddler play area, making sure that the littles ones had a great time without being trampled by rambunctious older kids.

Dibo Village 6

Here are a few tips to make your trip to Dibo Village a little easier:

1. The best time to come is after 3pm on weekdays. Weekday mornings are typically very busy with large groups from local preschools. We arrived at 10:30am, and by 10:45am, about 6 different preschool groups arrived. It was loud and crowded until the Dibo show started and most of the children went to the theater.

Dibo Village 4

2. Rooms are available for birthday parties. Parties require a minimum of 10 children paying admission and use of the party room is free. Call ahead though to make a reservation.

3. Underground parking is available for free (with validation–be sure to take your parking ticket up to have it validated) for 2.5 hours. We were there for almost 3 hours and parking was 1,000W.

4. Lockers are provided free of charge (to the right as you enter the play area).


Dibo Village 3 Dibo Village 1

 

5. The menu at Han’s Cafe is in both English and Korean. There’s a small children’s menu as well, but small plates are also available to split larger/adult portion items.

Dibo Village 5

Cost: For 2 hours of playtime

0-12 months: free

13-24 months: 9,000W

2 yrs + : 15,000W

Adults: 5,000W

For each additional 10 minutes of playtime: 1,000W/kids and 500W/adults

 

Getting There:

Address for driving: YangCheon-gu, Mok 1-dong, 923-6 Korean Artin Center, 7th floor

By subway: Omokgyo Station, Line 5. Exit 2. Walk straight out exit 2. The Artin Center building is on the second block down on the right side.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.25.30 AM

Website: www.dibovillage.kr (Korean only)

Phone: 02.2655.3450

Yaho Kids’ Sand Cafe (Ichon)

This week’s adventuring took us to the Yaho Kid’s Cafe, which I read about on the site Korea Ye! (a must-read for foreigners in Korea!). I don’t know if it’s the toxic smog or the fact that it’s been a pretty action-packed couple of weeks with my husband being out of town for work and the kids’ birthdays, but I wasn’t feeling very motivated to venture out into the city. So we stuck close to home, parked at a friends’ house and made our way over to the Yaho Sand Cafe.

I knew that the place was relatively small, but our group of 12 kids and 6 moms was a bit much for this cute little kids’ cafe. I’m pretty sure that the staff–two young women–were completely overwhelmed and perhaps even a bit frightened by our mass entrance into the small space.

The space is split into a small cafe area (with 3-4 tables for moms to sit, relax, drink coffee, eat lunch) and a play area. The bottom level of the play area is a large sandbox, and there’s a lofted section above it with toys. There are some great photos of the space on the Korea Ye! site, so please have a look. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very many photos while I was there today.

Lofted Play Area

When kids enter the sandbox area, staff quickly rushes over to dress the kids in overalls and a pair of boots to help keep the sand out of their clothes. Even my finicky, likes-things-just-the-way-he-likes-things-son was willing to put the overalls and boots on, and there was minimal complaining from him about the feeling of gritty sand on his feet as we were getting ready to go (I call this a win!).

The staff was very attentive of the children, particularly the younger 1-2 year olds, and another win: all of the beverages the moms ordered were fabulously tasty. It states on their menu (and yes, they will offer you an English version) that all of their food and drinks are made on-site, and my kids gobbled up a plate of chicken nuggets and mini-hot dogs.

The cafe is geared toward toddler and preschool aged children, and although my 5 year olds had a lot of fun, I definitely think this is a place that my daughter and I will frequent once the boys go to school in the fall.

The pricing is comparable to most other kids’ cafes. It’s 6,000KRW for the first hour and 10,000KRW for 2 hours. Also, the adult/parent is required to purchase a drink (some kids’ cafes charge 4,000-5,000KRW for the parents, which includes a “free” drink, so it’s all the same). The staff just keeps track of your food and drink orders, and you pay up at the end as you leave. Also, something wonderful that I didn’t know: you can drop your kids off there and run errands, go to the dentist (UPenn Ivy Dental is just one block over), go to dinner (there are plenty of great restaurants in the area)… The drop off fee is a bit higher–20,000KRW for 2 hours, and of course, you can pre-order food for your kid(s) when you drop them off, but it’s convenient with so many shops, businesses and restaurants nearby, and your kids are guaranteed to have a great time!

Oh, and one other tidbit–you can park in the Hangang Mansion Apartment complex just behind Yaho Cafe. Let them know that you’re going to Yaho Cafe, they’ll give you a yellow slip of paper to put in your windshield, and just let the staff at Yaho Cafe know that you’ve parked and they’ll give you a ticket that allows you to park for free. No time limit.

All in all, we had a great time. I don’t do kids’ cafes often since it gets rather pricey with 3 kids who also want to eat everything they see, but it was a great experience, and I’ll definitely be taking my littlest one there again. And probably taking advantage of the kid drop off service. 🙂

Yaho Kids’ Sand Cafe is open weekdays from 11am to 8pm and Saturday from 10am to 8pm. Closed Sundays. It’s within walking distance of Ichon station (exit 4), and a quick and easy drive from Yongsan Visitor Gate (Gate 13). From Exit 4 of Ichon station, walk straight ahead 2 blocks, passing Hangaram Apartments. At the main street, Yaho Cafe is across the street to the left.

Unfortunately, I forgot to grab a business card, so I don’t have the address (I’ll update here when I can get it), but here’s the address for UPenn Ivy Dental, which is just one block over.

Seoul-si, Yongsan-gu, Ichon-dong, 300-26

Yaho Cafe is on the 2nd floor.

Amazing Riding Kids Park

**UPDATE (13 Nov 2014): The Amazing Kids Park is now CLOSED. 🙁
**UPDATE: The Amazing Riding Kids Park is now the AMAZING KIDS PARK (minus the riding). It’s still at the same location, same prices, same times. Just the name has changed!
I’m always on the look-out for fun places to take my kids that aren’t too far away since I have a close-to-debilitating aversion to driving in Seoul, so when I came across the “Amazing Riding Kids Park” on a discount ticket website (ticketmonster.co.kr) and found that it was only about 15 minutes away–I immediately made plans to go with a few friends and their kids!The general premise of the large indoor playground is “riding” (it’s not just a clever grammatically confused name!), and there are a number of things for kids to ride–race cars, tricycles, bumper cars, motorized animals, trains… But according to the photos I saw online, there was also plenty for my almost 24 month old daughter to do–a ball pit with slides, trampolines, a bounce house as well as a separate toddler playroom.So our adventure to the Amazing Riding Kids Park begins…

Getting to the parking lot of TechnoMart was challenge #1. The building (which also houses an Emart and a CGV movie theater) is on the “wrong” side of the road since we approached it from the north. My hopelessly inefficient GPS took us on some crazy side-streets and strange traffic circles, but despite the detours, we all arrived in with our sanity intact, parked the car and began our quest for the 6th floor.

Challenge #2: Getting to the 6th floor where the Amazing Riding Kids Park is located. We parked right outside the elevator lobby, so one would think that we could simply press a button, get on the elevator, press another button and arrive on the 6th floor. Not in Korea! 😉 Two of the four elevators didn’t work, and when one of them finally arrived, 4 adults and 5 children piled into the elevator, looked for the button to the 6th floor, couldn’t find it, got off, asked a janitor who was standing nearby, and he directed us to another elevator lobby because apparently, those elevators only serviced certain floors–the 6th floor not included. Next, instead of finding the other elevator lobby, we ended up in Emart where we located an elevator that specifically stated it went up to the 6th floor (there was actually a chart above the 2 elevators–one said it went to the 6th floor, the other did not). We got in, found the button for the 6th floor. Pressed it. Pressed it again. Went up to the 1st floor. Pressed 6 again. Went back down to B1. Got off the elevator. Asked an Emart employee. Found out that the elevators are on a timer and because the Amazing Riding Kids Park doesn’t open until 10:30am, the elevators won’t go to the 6th floor until 10:30. Looked at my watch. 10:29am. 30 seconds later, got back on the elevator. Pressed 6. Success! The children even cheered.

We got to the entrance and since I had reserved tickets in advance, it was all smooth sailing from there! We were given plastic bags to put our shoes and coats in, and the lobby area is lined with lockers to store your things (with a non-refundable 500KRW coin). Strollers also have to be left out in the lobby.

With all our stuff put away, we made our way into an absolute wonderland of Fun Stuff for Kids!

The best part was, we virtually had the entire place to ourselves the whole time we were there (from 10:30am to 1pm). There were a handful of other children and parents, but mostly, our kids ran free, rode everything multiple times and didn’t have to wait in line. My kids don’t do well with large crowds, so this really was perfect for them.

Each of the “rides” have attendants that help kids onto the various vehicles, strap them in, and help in case they get stuck or if there’s a mini traffic jam of little people. All of the children had a wonderful time. And all of the adults joined in on the fun at one point or another!

The BEST bumper cars ever! They’re inflatable tubes that move in all directions AND spin around in circles!
Miniature African “safari” train ride
Rides for toddlers in the Toddler Room
A mini-Lexus on the “Race Track”
Motorized stuffed animals? Yes, please!

They also have a set of trampolines that are clearly marked for separate ages–a small one for ages 0-3, a medium one for ages 4-7, and a larger one for ages 7-11. The ball pit was also a huge hit.

There’s also a sizable cafe area for parents to sit and relax. They serve drinks, coffee, and snacks as well as a few meal options (ddukbokki, noodles, spaghetti, udon, etc.). Drinks ranged from about 1,000KRW for bottled water to 2,500KRW for juice, and food ranged from 2,500KRW for a hot dog to 8,000KRW for spaghetti. Like most kid cafes, outside food and drinks are not allowed.
And if all that’s not enough to entertain your children for hours, there were also a couple of Xbox Kinects that children amazingly have the ability to figure out, despite not being able to read any of the directions.
After 2 and a half hours of play, we decided to venture out and look for some real food. With all the excitement and the running around, our children were apparently STARVING. The staff told us to go to the food court on B1 (there are also restaurants on the 10th floor), but I’m definitely glad we went to the food court. With such a big group, the options were amazing at the food court, AND the ever-elusive high chairs were available in abundance!
All in all, a wonderful place to take the kids. Just look at these happy faces!
We’ll definitely be going back!
Pricing:
Children: 16,000KRW (under 24 month FREE – must show proof of age)
Adults: 8,000KRW
*No time limit*
Address:
Seoul-si, Guro-gu, Guro-dong, 3-25 Shindorim TechnoMart 6th floor
Parking: Garage parking available. 3 hours free with validation, 1,000KRW for each additional hour
Subway:
Shindorim Station, Lines 1 and 2, exit directly into the TechnoMart complex (follow signs for Technomart)
Hours:
Weekdays – 10:30am to 6:00pm (last entry at 5:00pm)
Weekends – 10:30am to 8:00pm (last entry at 5:00pm)
Phone: 02.2111.6004
Payment: Cash and credit card accepted

Block Bus (Lego Cafe)

My kids love Legos. Lovethem. So when I heard about the existence of Lego kids’ cafes, I was on a mission. With the help of my Lego-loving brother (whose Korean is much better than mine), we found a chain of kids’ cafes called Block Bus. They have locations all over the peninsula (six in Seoul—locations are listed below). They’re all attached to a Lotte Mart, a department store or a movie theater, so unlike most kids’ cafes that include a separate area for parents to enjoy a cup or coffee or a quiet meal, Block Bus is designed with the idea that you leave your children there while parents go shopping or watch a movie.
We went to the location at the Lotte Mart in Guro-gu, enjoying the traffic-free drive on Seollal (Lunar New Year) weekend. We realized as we drove into the parking garage that there were few cars on the road because apparently, everyone was shopping. From the 5th level of the parking garage, we had to make our way to the basement, which took longer than it should have. If you’ve been to any of the large, multi-level marts (Lotte Mart, EMart, Homeplus, etc.), then you’ve experienced the agonizingly slow trek from one level to the next on the inclined moving walkways.
Although we’d been to this particular Lotte Mart before on several occasions, somehow we’d missed this amazing little room. As you exit the moving walkway, continue straight past the colorful train-shaped cash registers, and you’ll see a wooden door half-hidden behind a row of toddler slides. And inside this door is a Lego-lover’s paradise.

Because it was our first visit, I was asked to write the kids’ names, ages and my cell phone number down for them on a sign up sheet. Their names were entered into the computer so that on future visits, the kids are already in the system. Children ages 5 and up (Korean age) do not need to have a parent present at all times.  
We took our shoes off and went into the room where there were about 6 other children working diligently on building their masterpieces. At the back of the room, kids can flip through picture books of every Lego kit your children can imagine and choose the one they want to build. They’re given a plastic box that contains all the pieces as well as the instructions, and away they go!

Charlie and Lincoln got to work on some superhero-themed sets, and Penny chose a non-Lego dollhouse to play with. There’s also a small section for toddlers to play in with a train set, dollhouse, play kitchen and blocks.

Since I hadn’t come to Lotte Mart with the intention of shopping, I stayed with my kids while they worked on their Legos, but the Lotte Mart has quite a lot for parents to do while the kids are playing:
Basement level (B1): Toys R Us, electronics mart, bookstore, shabu shabu buffet restaurant
1st Floor: groceries
2nd Floor: clothing, home goods, car accessories, food court, etc. (most things you would find in an Emart)
3rd Floor: pharmacy, florist, hair and nail salon
4th Floor: furniture
Other things to keep in mind if you take your kids to Blockbus:

  • According to the sign, Block Bus is for children ages 5 and up, and younger children are allowed to play on weekday mornings when accompanied by a parent/guardian. However, we went on a holiday weekday afternoon, and my 23 month old daughter was allowed in so I don’t know how strict they are with the rules. 
  • The toddler play area is relatively small, and although the staff is willing to help kids who have difficulty with their Lego projects, they’re definitely not there to provide one-on-one time with individual children.
  • Refreshments are available for the kids. They have a selection of fruit juices and water at reasonable prices (Capri Sun 1,000KRW, bottled water 500KRW).
  • If you leave your child at Block Bus, make sure that s/he is comfortable going to the bathroom alone. The restrooms are located outside the classroom, so your child will have to walk into the shopping/public area alone. It’s not far, but be sure that this is something you and your child are comfortable with. 
  • All of the Legos/toys are disinfected after they are returned.
  • Payment is made at the end of your visit. It’s 6,000KRW for the first hour, 1,000KRW for each 10 minute thereafter. The cost of refreshments, if applicable, is added to your total cost. 
  • If you plan to bring your kids to Block Bus frequently, you may purchase discounted chunks of time. 10 hours for 54,000KRW and 20 hours for 96,000KRW.
  • The room can be rented out for private parties.

My boys absolutely loved it and wanted to stay longer. Once they finished building their masterpieces, their works were placed on a shelf for display. They were so proud of themselves! We’ll definitely be coming back here!

Block Bus Seoul Locations:
Lotte Cinema Star City                      02.3436.8262                       Kwangjin-gu, Jangyang-dong 227-7
NC Department Store Gangseo         02.2667.9755                       Gangseo-gu, Deungcheon-dong 689
Lotte Mart World (Songpa)               02.2143.1512                       Songpa-gu, Jamsil-dong 40-1
NC Department Store Garden 5        02.2157.5628                       Songpa-gu, Munjung-dong 516
Lotte Mart Joonggae                         02.2091.0246                       Nowon-gu, Joonggae-dong 361
Lotte Mart Guro                                02.2634.0246                       Guro-gu, Guro-dong 636-89
Parking: Free (at the Lotte Mart Guro location)
Hours: 10am – 10pm
Pricing: 6,000KRW for the first hour, 1,000W for each additional 10 minutes
10 hours for 54,000KRW
20 hours for 96,000KRW

Cash and credit card accepted

Trick Eye Museum and Ice Museum

I’d heard so much about the Trick Eye Museum, and I really wanted to go… But taking all 3 kids on the subway by myself, especially when it involves several transfers seemed like such a daunting task. So with friends visiting from the States and my husband taking a day off from work, it the perfect time to venture out. Especially since I could make the husband drive!

It was a rather difficult drive. We approached the street from the wrong direction and couldn’t make a left turn, so we had to drive down about .5 mile, which took nearly 10 minutes in Hongdae, make a U-turn, then come back up the street in order to turn right. The street we turned onto was VERY narrow, and my Toyota Sienna (AKA The Swagger Wagon) had some trouble getting to the museum. Thankfully, I was not the one driving!

The Trick Eye Museum does have a parking lot, which is around the backside of the building. I can’t remember exactly how much it was, but I believe we paid 6,000KRW to park while we were there (this included having lunch after going to both the Trick Eye Museum and the Ice Museum).

Although we went on a Friday morning, the museum was PACKED. There were so many people that we had difficulty taking pictures. Trying to keep an eye on my kids was pretty hectic too, especially since there are so many platforms and steps and apparatuses to climb up on in order to take pictures. I’d turn around and find my 23 month old daughter 4 feet off the ground!

Despite the crowd, we got in some great photos, although I felt that for a museum that’s based on picture-taking, the lighting could have been better.

My friends and I had a lot of fun taking ridiculous photos, but the kids were not as entertained. Thankfully, purchasing a ticket to the Trick Eye Museum also gets you admission to the Ice Museum, which the kids though was “super cool!” The Ice Museum is just what you’d think it is. Everything in it is made of ice. And it’s COLD in there. Really cold. But there’s an ice slide, and that pretty much makes everything okay.

After the museums, we went to lunch at a meat buffet just across from the museum. It was only 12,000KRW/person and the kids were 7,000KRW for an all-you-can-eat buffet. You get your meat and grill at the table. That’s a really great price for one of these meat buffets, especially for a family of carnivorous piggies! I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but if you come out the doors of the Trick Eye Museum building (there are doors on either sides of the building), just walk toward the Y-intersection. It’s catty-cornered (diagonally across) from the Trick Eye Museum.

Another thing to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip to the Trick Eye Museum. Before entering the museum, store your things in the lockers available in the elevator and bathroom lobbies. Otherwise, you’ll be carrying all your things and looking for places to put your bags, coats, hats, umbrellas, etc. down before posing for a picture!