Take the Kids: Billy Beez
This mall play place is a destination in itself just north of the NJ border
Tucked in a corner of the gargantuan Palisades Center mall in West Nyack, New York, Billy Beez is what kids’ dreams are made of. But before you unleash the kids on what is sure to be the best afternoon of their young lives, here are all the need-to-know details.
Cost to Enter: $19.95 per child (ages 5 to 17); $9.95 for toddlers ages 2 to 5 (infants up to 23 months are free, but the parent must pay $9.95); $4.95 for parents of older kids. On weekends, it’s $6.95 for the first parent and $9.95 for a second parent.
What it Will Really Cost You: Parking is free and the mall has plenty of spaces, so other than the playspace entry, there are no additional costs.
How much time you need: We went with one adult and three children (ages 5 and 6) and we spent about 2-and-a-half hours there. The kids could have played even longer. We'd allot more time, so you don't hear whining about them being forced to leave. And fair warning, this mall is REALLY big, so try and park near to the middle (look for the Ferris wheel -- yes the inside-the-mall Ferris wheel) to save a lot of steps if you are heading here. Leave yourself a few minutes mall-walking time if you are meeting a group.
Food options: You can buy sandwiches (grilled cheese, paninis and wraps), plus the usual suspects: hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, pizza and snacks like a giant pretzel, popcorn, nachos and ice cream. Breakfast options like bagels and muffins are also available and there’s a nice array of parent-friendly hot beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos.
When to go: It can get seriously crowded on the weekends (they do a brisk birthday business) so if you do go on Saturday or Sunday, get there early. We arrived soon after they opened on a Sunday morning in January and it was definitely manageable, but after lunch, the crowded had swelled considerably.
What to bring: Socks for everyone and not much else. Climbers must take their shoes off and if you’ll be going in with your child, you don’t want to be weighed down by a heavy bag and other items. There are cubbies for shoes, but when it’s crowded, they fill up fast. If you have a stroller , you can park it by the cubbies, too. You may want to leave unnecessary items in your car, just to be safe.
Best for Ages: Kids of all ages will find plenty to do. We brought two 5-year-olds and a 6-year-old and they loved it. But younger ones will love it, too (there are devoted spaces for toddlers and little ones) and older kids will also have a blast.
Important Things to know: The large, 26,000-square-foot space can get loud and when it’s crowded, it can be tough to keep an eye on your group. But when you enter, you’ll be photographed and you’ll receive a Billy Beez card (it looks like a credit card) that is linked to your photo. Everyone in your group gets a wristband with the same number on it, and when you’re ready to exit, they’ll scan your card and check all wristbands before allowing you to go, giving you peace of mind that your little ones can’t leave without you.
What you should see and do:
Billy Beez has two levels: On the first level, little ones can play in the Mini Beez area for babies or the Toddler Zone for kids under 5, complete with a mini climbing structure, slides, puzzle games and more.
There are also slides for older kids on the ground level, including covered speed slides and a lava slide, which is big and red and aptly looks like you are sliding down lava. In the Ball Blaster Arena, kids collect soft, colorful balls and “shoot” them at each other. They feed the blasters (on the second level) using a vacuum-like tube on the first floor that sends the balls up. This level also has areas with big exercise balls, monkey bars and more. Kids can climb in the overhead tube that runs over the entire structure.
The second level includes more climbing structures, plus two big trampolines (only one jumper at a time, so lines can get long on busy days), a Giant Drop Slide , a bumpy Rainbow Slide (the multi-colored slide) and a Sports Court, where kids can show off their soccer and basketball skills. There is also a seating area for birthday parties and some spots for tired parents to take a break.
Bonuses: Make a reservation to drop kids (ages 4 to 12) off on weekday afternoons for KidsClub—2-hour, no-grownups-allowed play sessions complete with arts and crafts, soccer, gymnastics, scavenger hunts and more. With the mall right there and some decent grown-up restaurants or an IMAX theater, we're sure you can find a way to fill your time. On Friday and Saturday nights, parents can sign up for “Date Night” and drop the kids off for more kids-only fun, for $29.95/kid. You can also sign up for a full session or drop in to Super Soccer Stars Class on Tuesdays and Saturdays (classes include a full-day admission to the playspace) for $300 per session, or $35 for a drop-in class.