An ‘extreme’ playground - Metro US

An ‘extreme’ playground

For some, Family Day offers a moment of reflection on familial relationships right around the time of “the other” love-themed occasion.

Those without offspring see it as a wonderful government-sanctioned day off and virtually everyone cherishes the way it’s a slight reprieve from the lack of special events between Christmas and Easter. Still, with one more day out of the classroom, a lot of kids are going to be bouncing off the walls this weekend.

So let them, says Gina Downes, creator of Kids-Fest. Entering its fourth consecutive year of operation, it has quickly become Canada’s largest indoor inflatable show/playground. Running for the entire weekend — Feb. 13-15 at Toronto’s International Centre (6900 Airport Rd., Mississauga) — Kids-Fest is directed at letting rug-rats of all ages burn off that extra energy.

“As a mother of three children, I saw how much they enjoyed indoor playgrounds,” Downes says, explaining Kids-Fest’s origins.

“Having been in the special events industry for the past 15 years, we decided to take the concept of an indoor playground to the extreme. We wanted to have a place where families could come and spend the day with their children on the rides and enjoy something that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

While Kids-Fest originated and continues to operate out of Hamilton’s Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (9280 Airport Rd.) each Family Day, thanks to its exponential growth in popularity annually, Downes has been prompted to expand Kids-Fest into Toronto for 2010.

Still, each location features its own unique atmosphere and enticements. The International Centre is scheduled to house more than 50,000 square feet of the continent’s biggest scream-inducing inflatable activities, some reaching upwards of 25 feet and/or 135 feet long.

At that, listing off the various features of the Toronto Kids-Fest seems like an endless host of sugarplum dreams. From obstacle courses, bouncers, laser tag and bull riding to vendors, multiple Free-Flight Birds of Prey Shows, appearances by award-winning interactive entertainer D-Jay and Party Animal, premium offerings such as pony rides, face painting and the Make-It and Take-It Teddy Bear Workshop, it’s tough to deny that Downes has met her goal of original, captivating entertainment for children of all ages.

Admission to Kids-Fest is $8, and free for children two and under. All-day ride bracelets are $15, and pony ride tickets are $5. Adults do not need a ride bracelet to go on rides with their child. Tickets available at The International Centre. Parking is free.

Kids-Fest is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.

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