Location: The Legends at Village West, 1843 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, KSCost: Free, but I imagine they’d appreciate it if you bought a sandwich.
Web site: http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/home.html (This will take you to the McDonald’s corporate site; I wasn’t able to find a site for the individual store.)
Given the recent freakish weather (it snowed here, on May 2nd. Snow. In May. I am without words.), we were looking for a place for the kids to run around and burn off some steam. Since it was 40 degrees out (again, in May) and wet (not so unusual, but I’m still stuck on the snow), we needed someplace indoors. Enter the McDonald’s Playplace at the Kansas City Legends Shopping Center.
The play area at this McDonald’s has been renovated since I was last there: seating has been removed in the spaces to either side of the play equipment, and an area with foam toys has been added for smaller children. Based on its overall condition, I’m inclined to say it’s relatively new. There weren’t chunks missing from the foam around the structure’s base, and the tree and two little foam creatures in the toddler area are in great shape.
The play area consists of a four-story enclosed primarily plastic structure made by Little Tikes Commercial. There are creatures to climb on and toys to play with in the enclosed levels, including a slide that both starts and ends inside the structure. There are lots of windows around the structure that make it look like it’s well-lit; the two doors to the outside world have been locked with fire locks (i.e. an alarm will sound because the doors are to be used in case of emergency only), so it’s a relatively secure area to let your little ones run and play.
Although Peanut had fun running around to find the slide and Sprout liked running around on it, I can’t recommend this playplace as a place to take your children. First, the structure felt weak under my weight; many of the floor supports are plastic, so they’re not as sturdy as they could be. It’s also very cramped to try and get through, and it’s kind of a maze in there. These things combine to make it difficult indeed to find and help a child if your kiddo gets lost or needs help.
Second, although the structure’s brightly colored and the area surrounding it is bright and welcoming, the interior of the structure is pretty dark. Between the plastic structure itself and the black wire mesh that makes each section a “cube,” not much ambient light gets through. Peanut had trouble navigating the structure, and it was easy for me to see why: it’s dark, and the darkness makes the contrast non-existent.
As you can guess, I do not recommend this location as a place to take B/VI kids on a rainy day. Sprout wasn’t interested in the toddler area, which was the only part that was reasonably well lit. In climbing the structure myself to reclaim an errant Sprout (she wasn’t coming out willingly), I wasn’t impressed with its stability, and I found it to be way too dark for a VI child to use successfully. This location’s great for the food, but not so hot for the entertainment.