Our Kids is pleased to announce a new indoor imaginative space that welcomes children ages 9 months to 9 years. Once Upon a Dream, located in the heart of Vienna, VA, is full of engaging opportunities for children and caretakers. Bright, colorful and rich with options for learning through play, Once Upon a Dream is a welcome asset to the Fairfax County list of family spaces to experience.
Getting there is pretty simple. The building location is right off of Maple Avenue next to Anita’s Mexican Food. Once you have parked, walk around to the side and head up to the second floor. When you first arrive, you will sign a waiver stating that you are responsible for the children in your care and are encouraged to make the space a screen-free zone, focusing on play experiences with your child(ren). It was a breath of fresh air to see so many caretakers and their children interacting, giggling, creating and making eye contact with each other instead of devoting time to a screen. After you sign the waiver, take your shoes off and place them in the nearby cubby.
It’s all fun and games now…
Once Upon a Dream offers a variety of activities in their facility. The toddler room, most appropriate for ages 9 months to 4 years, is packed with building materials, and several opportunities to press buttons and create in a “yes” zone. The variety of building materials (blocks, over sized legos, magnet tiles, etc.) are a great way to build your child’s developmental skills to include: hand-eye coordination, spatial skills, language skills, and divergent thinking. We are a fan of open-ended materials as this is a positive way to foster creativity!
In the main area, there are three large, beautiful structures: a castle, a cozy coach, and a fantastic pirate ship that spills over with pretend play.
Children ages 2 and up can climb the stairs to the massive castle and zip down the slide. My daughter, age 3, exuded pride as she brought several books up into the castle and read to herself. All ages are welcome to enjoy the castle from below as there are several books and soft spaces to sit and curl up with your little one.
The coach is the perfect place to set up some of their stuffed animals and put on your imaginary cap. In front of the coach, there is a ride-on unicorn; another gross motor opportunity. You can’t miss the pirate ship, complete with a huge treasure chest, and dress up clothes to boot. Let your child sail the ship and protect the treasure on board! The options are limitless, really.
Surrounding the large play structures, families can take advantage of a kinetic sand table, a transportation table and a long hallway with a variety of interactive boards. Our favorite was the wall ball tunnel where you feed a ball into the tunnel and watch it head down to the bottom. Once Upon a Dream also offers a small cafe’ area, complete with snacks and goodies for purchase. Snacks range from $.75 to $2.50. Adults can enjoy a variety of beverages to include coffee, cappuccinos, lattes and teas. There is also bottled water, San Pellegrino, Perrier, fruit juices and organic milk for sale. Once Upon a Dream encourages anyone with a peanut or nut allergy to bring their own snack to enjoy in the Cafe’.
Off of the main play area, there are two separate rooms. One room is set up for birthday parties, extra activities to include: puppet shows, dance, yoga and cupcake decorating classes. Check their calendar for special events listings.
The other room is coined the ‘Activity Room’. Children of all ages can step into this room to create, imagine and pretend! Divergent thinking, a key to problem solving and the backbone of creativity, is at it’s peak in this room! Children go through several experiences of understanding, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be. This was by far, my favorite room because of the endless opportunities to use imagination. The lemonade stand, the organization of the food, the chef hat and apron, cash registers, shopping carts and more were a hit with my daughter. This room also offers open-ended art discovery as well as planned art projects.
Admission rates are $10 per person (adults and children). There are several monthly promotions that customers can take advantage of as well. Military, Law Enforcement and Fire and Rescue can enjoy a 10% discount.
Once Upon a Dream is an opportunity to be present with your child(ren); fostering their play and giving them the gift of imagination. $10 is a minimal fee to pay to give them the world at their fingertips. Help build their confidence, aide in their understanding of the world around them and let Once Upon a Dream provide that happy, safe and lovely space for real connections. My three year old and I played for 2 hours and every so often she would come up and hug my leg and say, “I love you, Mommy Boo! And I LOVE this place!”
Things to Note:
- If you or your group need a potty break, you can find the bathrooms outside of the facility along the main hallway.
- Be sure to check out Once Upon a Dream on social media for all of the latest events and updates.
Photos courtesy of Marcy Fisher.