Baby T-T and I were this week lucky enough to be invited along to a lovely friend’s birthday party at the brand new Epicland in its opening week. This hotly-anticipated addition to Discovery Bay’s North Plaza – and the largest of its kind in Hong Kong – has been in the works for a couple of months now, with only a brightly-coloured sign full of grinning faces and ball pits hinting at the kiddie paradise that lies within.
Now before I begin, I’d like to state for the record that I’m not generally a fan of soft plays – the combination of all all that gaudy foam, shrieking and breaking up fistfights brings me out in a cold sweat. And it’s usually best to avoid thinking too much about exactly what lies beneath those plastic balls, or just what that smell really is (hint: it’s probably your child). Yep, these kiddy zoos are not my cup of
gin and tonic tea, and yet, like my arch-nemesis Peppa Pig, children inexplicably love them. Sigh.
However, I was more than happy to put aside my preconceptions for a morning and head over for a nosy and a slice of birthday cake with the boy in tow, figuring I could always hide in a corner and have a chat with some fellow adult refugees if it all got a bit much.
We arrived at 11am on a ridiculously hot day, and as you might imagine, the place was already bouncing with kids and parents keen to get to the slides and air conditioning, respectively. You queue at the reception area, remove your shoes (socks are compulsory, so remember yours, or pick up a pair at the counter for $10), stash your gear in a locker, then descend the stairs into what can only be described as a CAVERNOUS indoor playground, stuffed to the rafters with everything a child could want. Seriously, I have never seen a play area, or indeed a room this large in Hong Kong. At 14,000 square feet, it is absolutely vast.
Mouths suitably agape, we found our party in one of the private function rooms (these can be rented for two hours at a time for birthdays, etc), and then let loose on as many of the facilities as we could manage, which comprise (deep breath!):
- Super-fast tube slides
- An ENORMOUS climbing frame structure that stretches the length and breadth of the centre, complete with soft obstacles, slides, nets, ropes… you name it
- Air Trek (an overhead harness assault course)
- Two climbing walls
- Mini Golf
- Laser Tag
- Netted sports court
- A soft foam ball ballistics range, where you can aim guns at your parents and shoot balls at them. One for the dads.
- Two trampolines
- An under-threes soft play area.
On the whole, this place is seriously cool, and I love the fact that it offers something fun for kids of all ages. Teens are often pretty short-changed when it comes to activities here in HK, so some of the more daredevil attractions here will keep them busy while the little ones enjoy the slides. And (ahem!) Mummy enjoys the trampoline…
Speaking of shortchanged… the downside here – and I’m sure you saw this coming – is the cost. A brand spanking new warehouse full of mind-bogglingly awesome kit like this doesn’t come cheap, and entry fees ($148 for one child under 12 plus accompanying adult on weekdays; $188 at weekends) reflects this. Frequent users might get a little more bang for their buck from a membership package – $888 for a monthly weekday pass; or $10,000 (!!) for an unlimited annual pass. However for many of us, I suspect this may be an occasional treat on a very hot or rainy day, rather than a weekly playdate venue.
That said, your fee allows all-day entry, meaning that it’s quite possible to get a full day of value out of your ticket. Although Epicland has a small coffee shop on site, DB residents also have the option of popping home for lunch, while visiting families have a couple of decent restaurants at North Plaza (MooFish is a good choice for a family meal, while a slice of Paisano’s pizza works for a more casual affair).
Overall, if you’re scratching your head for a rainy day activity, have a bored teen who needs some time away from their iPad, or a little monster that needs running ragged (yep!), then Epicland is a brilliant, and very welcome addition to Hong Kong’s roster of activities.
Race you to the trampoline…
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 9.30am – 7.30pm; Friday and Saturday, 9.30am – 8pm; Sunday 9am – 7.30pm
Epicland, G/F, 31 North Plaza, 96 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay, Lantau, Hong Kong; 2441 0098; firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Thanks so much to Jack for allowing us to review his 4th birthday party venue – happy birthday, little dude!