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Detailed Review of Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall
I have always wondered why there wasn’t any indoor playground at Seng Kang, given the concentration of young parents (and hence kids) staying there. Each time another playground opened in the East, I would be like, REALLY? Is there still room for another playground in the East?? I know nuts about running a business but I do recall learning something about threshold populations in Secondary School Geography and something tells me there are way too many indoor playgrounds in the East.. No? (KidzGo Playhouse did come and go.)
Oops, I digressed. So when the new Seletar Mall opened in Seng Kang (Fernvale to be exact, but that’s not my territory so I’m not sure what’s the distinction), I was delighted that there was going to be an indoor playground there – HOKEY POKEY no less. You see, I have always held the owners of Hokey Pokey in high regard as a group of mothers first, business-owners second and felt that they were people who truly understood what parents needed. (Read this post I wrote back in their Suntec City days and you’ll understand why.) So it came as no surprise that they also noticed the possible demand for an indoor playground in Seng Kang area and opened a branch there.
Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall Play Area
Let’s get to the review. Hokey Pokey was located at Basement 1 (Unit B1-28/29), happily tucked in the corner. The pseudo brick-wall decor resembled their Millenia Walk branch so it was pretty easy to spot.
I figured 4 year-old MF had outgrown Hokey Pokey and only brought 2 year-old MY there. I signed MY up for their membership (I will come to this later when I talk about admission fees) and redeemed his free birthday month visit. They tagged us and in he went! The first thing we saw were the doll houses, which MY totally ignored. Too girly probably. Or the fact that they were blocked by the huge Princess Castle initially (I will come to this at the end of the post as well).
MY was attracted, instead, by the rack of toys that included many toy vehicles. My boys just love toys with wheels, and as expected, MY immediately went to take all the vehicles off the shelves and pushed them around.
In the same corner, there were two mini Steinway pianos which I loved because they were much more realistic than those plasticky electronic keyboards.
Next to the toys section was the Kitchen-cum-Supermarket pretend-play section with a pretty impressive array of kitchen sets.
In the centre of the playground were tables of toys that would make boys go CRAZY (and at this point I was starting to regret not bringing MF along). First, there was the train table that made MY squeal, “Chuggington! Chugginton!” in delight.
Then, the Tomica sets. O-M-G. Tomica was one of my boys’ absolute FAVOURITE toy. They had the whole set here! (Though I wondered why they were not all connected as one big set, I thought the 3 sets could be connected.)
And the other parking garage toy they had was a fancy wooden set that was super fun. It had a tall wavy slide as well as a take-off ramp.
Moving further in, there was a small swing-cum-slide for babies. Not-so-baby MY decided to give it a try.
Beside it was the costumes corner. My boys have never been big on dressing up, so we passed.
Coming up next were the big ride-on vehicles. I liked how they had a huge variety of vehicles here, not just replicates of the same type of car (like what Playful Elves provided).
If you have that many cars, you gotta ensure that your playground had enough space for them to move around. No worries, there was quite a lot of open space here for the cars to move around. (But then again, I was here on a weekday morning and MY was the only one playing. I’m not sure how well it would cope with weekend and school holiday crowds.)
And the highlight of it all was the roller coaster. I have loved the Step2 roller coaster since I first saw it at Royce Kids Gym and subsequently at Hokey Pokey’s first outlet. But what they had here was a new improved version – a THOMAS version! Awww man, I really should have brought MF along!
MY went on it so many times that I lost count. (Okay, I’m shielding my laptop screen from MF now, lest he gets upset that I didn’t bring him.)
At the end of the playground, there was the main ball pit and slide that led the kids right into the ball pit. It was awesome fun!!
Beside it was a bouncy castle.
And in the corner was the toddler’s area for babies and toddlers below 2 years old. MY was above 2 years old, so we passed.
While there was an abundance of toys in the toddlers area, I found it a bit cramp. See how the gym equipment was blocking the toy rack?
To let the kids unwind, there was a book rack there (that could afford to have more books as it looked half-filled (or half-empty.. whatever, let’s not go there).
That sums up the whole play area, let’s move on to other facilities.
Other Facilities at Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall
There was one party room there for holding birthday parties.
Within the play area, there was a diaper-changing table with wet wipes and plastic bags provided.
Parents could rest at the counter seats facing the playground or at the tables around the entrance. The whole play area could be viewed from the counter seats, so you could sit there and have a drink while still keeping an eye on your kids.
There were also lockers at the entrance that cost $1 per use. Otherwise you could use the bag rack inside the play area.
Admission Fee (Play Rate) for Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall
As I mentioned earlier, I signed MY up for their membership. Here are the membership details:
So why did it make sense to sign up for the membership? It included two free visits, one of which during the kid’s birthday month. I was there during MY’s birthday month so I could utilize that visit immediately and I reckoned I would be back at least one more time in the next one year. Two individual visits already cost $52. There was a 10% discount for OCBC CDA card holders, which brought the membership fee down to $52.20 which was the same price as two individual visits. Hence, it made sense to me to sign up for the membership (afterall, I may even come here more than twice since I have many friends staying around Seng Kang and it would be a nice venue for playdates). So if you think you would be here more than 2 times in a year, then you should sign up for the membership.
Overall Review of Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall
As much as I would like to end off this post by giving them a perfect review, I have to say that I did leave with some disappointments. No complaints about the play area, it had more than enough to keep MY entertained – he played for more than 3 hours non-stop and refused to leave when we wanted to go for lunch. My main gripes were with the service (or rather the lack of it) that I praised them for when they first started up. Firstly, they are going to have a cafe here which meant that they would not allow outside food once the cafe opened. (It was still not ready yet when I was there and I was allowed to bring in outside food during this visit.)
No matter how wonderful the food at an indoor playground bistro is, if I am a regular customer, I would get sick of it eventually. I mean, Cool de Sac served excellent food at their bistro when they first opened. But frankly after 3 visits, I didn’t feel like eating there anymore. And by the end of last year, their bistro had closed down and the bistro within the playground was reduced to serving just drinks and cakes and everyone was packing Din Tai Fung food to eat in the playground. What is the point in forbidding parents from bringing outside food in? To boost the in-house cafe’s business? As a regular visitor to indoor playgrounds, that rule serves more as a deterrence for me to visit frequently.
Secondly, the fact that they charged $1 per use for the locker. What’s up with charging for lockers? First it was Cool de Sac that decided to stop letting customers use lockers for free, now Hokey Pokey too?? I am seriously getting annoyed. As a mother who brings my kids to playgrounds alone, lockers are an absolute necessity because it is very difficult for me to hold on to my valuables while moving around with my kids and I have always deemed the free use of locker as a huge plus point at indoor playgrounds.
Thirdly, the staff. The whole time I was there, the staff were just sitting at the counter eating their breakfast and chit-chatting. When Hokey Pokey first opened at Suntec City, the staff always sat down to play with MF when there weren’t many customers around. Otherwise, they would be busy moving around to keep the toys back into the racks. (I can’t believe I am tearing up as I write this, don’t know if it is from disappointment or nostalgia or just female hormones. Those days I spent at Hokey Pokey in Suntec with the lovely staff, I still remember the Malay girl with long curly hair and the Chinese girl with long straight hair and the handsome chap who moved along to the Millenia Walk outlet – MF loved playing with them soooo much! Such wonderful memories. *grab a tissue to dab my tears*)
Now? None. Zip. I was the ONLY customer for 3 hours and there was NO attempt by the staff to interact with my kid. ZERO. Neither was there any attempt to put the toys that MY misplaced back. And the Tomica toy was out of battery, I had to walk to the counter to tell the staff before they came over to replace it. And you know what was the worst of all? The huge Princess castle was so obviously in the wrong place when I first arrived (it was blocking the doll houses) and it was that way for a few hours, until one of the owners arrived and shifted it to the correct position. None of the staff noticed it.
Okay, I better stop my ranting before you decide to condemn this playground. I am not saying that Hokey Pokey is not good! C’mon, they are the only indoor playground that can move me to tears, how bad can they be? It’s just that with high expectations comes huge disappointments. When I visited other indoor playgrounds, I didn’t have high expectations and reviewed them as they were. But with Hokey Pokey, I went in with certain expectations but they weren’t met. Maybe it is the pragmatism of running a business that forces them to have to make money out of little things like lockers and cafes to stay profitable. Maybe it is that all the owners now have more kids so they are too busy to keep an eye on their staff. (I have two kids now, I CAN UNDERSTAND.) I have always been a big fan of Hokey Pokey AND I STILL AM. Just that now, service wise, they are just ON PAR with other indoor playgrounds. Firstly, almost all other indoor playgrounds which have in-house cafe do not allow outside food, that’s the norm. You can go out for lunch and come back again, it is really not that big a problem, I was just being whiny. Secondly, almost all indoor playgrounds charge for lockers. Heck, some do not even have lockers! It’s just that Hokey Pokey used to have free lockers, now they don’t, so I was just being whiny. Thirdly, almost all indoor playgrounds’ staff do not interact with kids and you’ll be happy if they bother making occasional rounds to clear up the mess, so again I was just being whiny. So you see, my complaints do not make Hokey Pokey pale in comparison to other playgrounds. They just pale in comparison to what they used to be.
In conclusion, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this playground for babies who are able to crawl, all the way up to kids of 4 years old. I would gladly pay $26 for my kids within this age group to play here. But any older, I would not because they would have outgrown many of the equipment and toys here. Sure, older kids will still enjoy the ball pit, the cars and some of the toys (like Tomica), but to pay $26 to let them play with such things? I don’t think it’s worth it.
- Excellent play area with huge variety of toys to keep kids occupied for a long time.
- Unlimited play time on weekdays.
- One of the best playgrounds around for babies and young toddlers
- Service could be improved.
- Probably too kiddish for older kids.
Update on Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall (16 March 2015)
I was back at Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall, this time with both kids! I had signed up MF for their holiday class. However, I brought the boys there earlier (since there was unlimited play time on weekdays) and they spent more than 6 hours there!
Let’s look at some of the improvements to the playground since my last visit.
I paid more attention to the doll house this time, since it was not blocked by the huge princess castle. Look at that Barbie collection. And spot the FROZEN dolls! (Yes, we are all gearing up for another round of Frozen fever with the announcement of Frozen 2.)
The big princess castle has been replaced by a pink dreamy house which MY unabashedly occupied.
I was pretty tickled by the cushions they got for the library. Matched the arm chairs so well.
Hello Kitty and Monster must have cast some magic, because I have never seen my boys so studious before.
There was also a hopscotch on the floor near the entrance. I was surprised that so many of the kids knew how to play hopscotch. When they saw the hopscotch on the floor, they would hop through as they passed by.
Next, the Tomica. Like WOAH. They joined together 8 tables to form a BIG table so that the 3 Tomica sets could be joined together!
Digression: Yoohoooo Playful Elves, this is how you run a business. People are willing to invest in new tables if necessary. And you can’t even be bothered to buy a few trains for your train sets. Seriously… I just can’t stop grumbling about Playful Elves. This is why you should never offend women.
Back to Hokey Pokey’s Tomica table! If you look carefully, there was even a rail track running through the Tomica sets.
The toddler’s play area! They have done some rearrangement and it is a lot less cramp now.
The staff was also more proactive in going around the put the toys back in place. It was significantly more crowded this time round because I was there during school holidays. But it seems Hokey Pokey was prepared and hired more staff. Two of them were perpetually stationed throughout the playground to pick up stray toys and returning them to the correct places.
The boys had an AWESOME time! From 11am (actually they were camping outside eagerly since 10.50am waiting for them to open) till 5+pm – Without nap!
And don’t worry, those awesome costumes were included in the admission fee – no extra charges! (If you are thinking ‘Duh? Of course it’s included?’, you should read this post.)
Information on Hokey Pokey Seletar Mall
Address: The Seletar Mall #B1-28/29, 33 Sengkang West Avenue, Singapore 797653
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm daily
Getting there: Fernvale LRT station (SW5)
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