Smaland at IKEA

Looking for new furniture or just a way to get out of your house with the kids for some lunch and play? IKEA of College Park is your solution!

IKEA is an extremely family friendly retailer with many ways to entertain kids strewn throughout their stores. Most appealing for families of preschoolers and above is the free drop off play area so that you can shop on your own.

Smaland is located just past the entrance to the store on the lower level. Kids who are 37 to 54 inches tall and fully potty trained (no pullups or diapers allowed) can spend an hour burning off energy while you browse, shop or daydream in the cafe upstairs.

The Smaland play area has a giant ball pit, art supplies and a movie viewing area for kids to enjoy. Non-employee adults are not allowed to enter this area. IKEA has several measures in place for kid safety with the drop off system. All kids must be signed in and out by the same person. Adults and kids get matching hand stamps with a number and parents get a beeper with the corresponding number that will light up when you need to return. Adults must also retain the slip that you fill out during drop off to show when you come to sign your child out.

Smaland has its own bathroom inside so kids never need to leave the area. There is a strict 1 hour, once a day policy adhered to. The maximum number of kids allowed in the play area depends on the number of staff on duty. On a quiet weekday morning there was only one staff member which limited the space to 6 kids.

On a busy weekend 4 staff members are on duty which allows the staff to admit 48 kids at one time. Lines often form on the weekends for families waiting to drop off at Smaland. Hours for drop off play are 10am to 7:45pm Monday through Saturday and 10am through 6:45pm on Sundays. Parents can view the play area through the clear glass walls in case you want to check it out before deciding whether to drop your child off or not.

While the drop off play area is a wonderful feature, there are many more family friendly reasons to visit IKEA. The restaurant upstairs has delicious reasonably priced food for kids and adults. Mornings until 11am, large breakfast plates including eggs, bacon and potatoes can be had for only $1.99. Coffee with free refills is only 99 cents. Kids meals for lunch and dinner are only $2.49. This includes a choice of any three items from the list of kids’ offerings – Swedish meatballs, mac and cheese, yogurt, pb&j, mashed potatoes, milk, juice and cookies.

Individual kid items can be purchased for 99 cents each. Food is served cafeteria style here with no “to go” options. There are no disposable plates, cups or silverware (all washable and reusable). High chairs, booster seats and a bottle warming station are all found in the seating area.

We all know that kids get restless before parents finish their meals when eating out. IKEA has a great solution for this. In the middle of the seating area is a kiddie corral. This rectangular spot is a boxed in area where toys and a television sit so kids have a place to play while parents are finishing up their food. Seating is available around the perimeter of this play area so you can eat and keep an eye on your little one at the same time.

IKEA provides family restrooms upstairs and downstairs which have changing tables, chairs for nursing and step stools for hand washing. Even shopping at IKEA provides fun spaces for kids. Scattered throughout the store are fun zones with toys for kids including a slide located between the bedroom furniture and the children’s section.

There are also many areas set up to look like actual homes and rooms. My girls feel like they are in a large scale playhouse. The kids’ section in particular has many fun toys to look at and try out before buying including tents, chairs, a kitchen set and many stuffed animals.

On your way out of the store one more family friendly area awaits. Just beyond the cashier station is the IKEA bistro where ice cream cones and cinnamon rolls are $1.oo each and hot dogs can be had for 50 cents each. All are hard to pass up at those prices!

The next time you are in the market for furniture or even just lunch, head over to IKEA for a fun filled day with the kids.

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