A Macaroni Kid Review By: Angeline Sheridan
It was a red-letter day in Westwood when The Big Playhouse opened its doors to the public on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Mayor John Birkner, Jr. presented owner Larine Baratta with a certificate to commemorate the event and helped cut the Grand Opening ribbon with the largest pair of scissors I have ever seen.
It was exciting to be one of the first to tour the brand-new facility following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. As soon as we walked through the doors, my 4 year old son and 19 month old daughter were off exploring the different themed-rooms to play in: a Cafe, a doctor's office, a doll hair salon, an Enchanted Loft, a supermarket and bakery, a barnyard stocked with animal puppets that my daughter could not keep her hands off, a train and car-racing room, a construction zone, and laundry, kitchen and dining rooms. Each room was brightly painted and stocked with toys. Some rooms also had dress-up clothes for children for more imaginative fun.
My little girl and I loved the retro kitchen complete with a wooden refrigerator, stove, sink, dining table and chairs, as well as stainless steel pots and pans and even miniature-sized napkins.
My son spent most of his time in "Tom's Speedway Room" which featured a remote control car racetrack, a train table, and costumes for kids to assume the part of race car driver.
Both kids loved the supermarket and bakery, featuring Melissa and Doug food accessories, miniature-sized steel shopping carts, and a cash register with play money. This was also my favorite room because it encouraged the children to share and take turns with the single cash register. It also lent itself to fun teaching opportunities for kids to practice their counting, sorting, and math skills.
Baratta's original idea for The Big Playhouse stemmed from a children's book series she had written based on characters she had made up. During the tour, we were pleasantly greeted by many of those characters found on the brightly painted walls throughout the place.
- Your kid's favorite doll, stuffed animal, toy truck or car is welcome at The Big Playhouse! If you forget it, you can adopt a baby doll, truck or car for the day.
- Strollers are not allowed in The Big Playhouse. I would recommend leaving the stroller in your car and wearing a baby carrier instead.
- Shoes must be taken off to enter so don't forget to wear or bring socks.
- Bring snacks and coffee for yourself. The "streets" are lined with bistro tables for the parents to enjoy. Also, the back room is a party room with kid-sized tables and chairs for kids to eat on if it is not occupied.
- Have something to lure the kids out of The Big Playhouse (like a sweet treat from one of the shops in downtown Westwood) because they will not want to leave! There is so much for the little ones to touch, fiddle, and tinker with in each room that you could easily spend an entire morning, or afternoon there. We were there for about an hour and a half, and we only played in 3 rooms!
The Big Playhouse is located on 316B Kinderkamack Road in Westwood and is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10AM to 5PM. For more information about pricing, birthday parties, and special events, visit thebigplayhouse.com or call 855-343-PLAY (7529).