The Works is a large indoor entertainment complex in Wyomissing, PA. The building contains a restaurant and bar, massive arcade, an indoor go-kart track, snack bar, trampoline park, and the focus of this review: Ballocity.
Ballocity is a massive indoor play structure. Think McDonald’s play place on some serious steriods. We found Ballocity after a reccomendation to visit The Works for the toddler time at their trampoline park. Read on for my thoughts and opinions on this mega playland.
(I’ll note here that I’m in no way affiliated with or sponsored by The Works. All opinions are my own and my usual honesty.)
Travel Group: Me (mid20’s-F) and Mini (10 months at first visit, crawling and climbing-M)
Location: The Works building is located on the borders of Wyomissing and West Reading. It’s not an unsafe area but it is in the city. However, it is located in a closed off complex so no walking down city streets or anything like that.
Parking: There is a very large parking lot right out the building doors. No cost, no difficulties.
When we go during the day it’s nearly empty but evening and weekend hours do bring larger crowds and a full lot.
Timing: Nearly everything in the building opens at 11:30 am and stays open until late evening. Each time we have visited has been on a Friday from about 11:30 to 1 or 2. Having a small child, I won’t stay when crowds and older kids start rolling in. More on that later…
(You can find full information on hours here: http://workswyomissing.com/about-us/directions-hours/)
Cost: In my opinion, the cost is very fair. It costs $6.95 per child Monday through Thursday and $8.95 Friday through Sunday. Adults entering the structure are $4.95 and children under 2 are free (but must be accompanied by a paying adult at all times). Mondays are half price and the price includes unlimited time for that day. Not bad for a day of entertainment.
Activities: The structure is a giant obstacle course for kids. There are ramps, slides, balls to swing on, cones, nets, lights, tunnels, etc. As for how the structure got it’s name? In the center of it all is a 2 story room with foam balls EVERYWHERE. The balls can be used in a variety of blasters and launchers and cloth bags are even provided so you can load up and man your blaster station up on the second level.
There is also an attached but seperate area for children 2 and under. This space is a soft play area with giant squishy shapes, more foam balls, a gravity table, and little ‘maze’. Warning: To enter this space, you must squeeze between two rollers. My “not so tiny” self is not a fan of this fact. I don’t quite understand the reason for this, especially since kids under 2 require an adult companion to join them.
Appropriate Ages: I would say it’s great for kids of all ages as long as they are mobile. 6 months or 600 months, everyone can have fun. (Please note: all adults must be accompanied by a child to enter.
Those with an infant not yet mobile: There’s no reason NOT to go as long as you don’t mind paying the $5 to sit with your little one and relax. We’ve had a play date here with a not yet crawling friend when our park day got rained out and it was very nice. You can also sit out on the viewing deck area for free and let older siblings play while you hang with your baby.
Staff: I can’t speak for evening staffing but everyone I’ve come across (hostess stand greeter, ticket counter, ballocity entrance “bouncer”) during our afternoon trips seems to be a college-age young adult. We’ve never been treated with anything besides politeness and respect. My only complaint (and biggest complaint) is that I’ve never seen the 2 and under rule enforced in the 2 and under section. As the mother of a small child, I don’t appreciate the staff sitting back and watching as a group of rambunctious 8 year old boys comes ripping through the small “safe” space for tiny tots.
Atmosphere: It’s an entertainment complex inside an old warehouse. Dimly but safely lit. Loud but not so much that it makes you crazy. Always very clean in my experience. Definitely a place full of energy and things to see and explore. Of course, nights and weekends are busier, louder, and more chaotic. We stick to weekday afternoons for that reason right now until Mini can hold his own with older kids.
I feel it’s also important to note that anyone taller than 3 to 4 feet will have to duck/crawl/scoot through most of the structure beyond the big main “room.” There are some areas with even tighter quarters and smaller openings. At 5’3 (and a little “curvy”) I don’t find it a problem but I’m in my 20’s with no mobility restrictions or health issues.
Safety: The biggest threat to safety here is other kids. There are rules saying no rough housing or horse play, etc but the place is full of excited (and sometimes clumsy) kids of all ages. Things happen. Otherwise, pretty well every surface is covered in a mat-like padding and the structure is extremely solid with even the blasters made of metal so there is no chance of breaking and leaving sharp edges. They also maintain a ‘No shoes. Socks mandatory.’ policy inside the Ballocity structure so no dirt, rocks, etc get inside.
Fellow Guests: It’s a true mixed bag. I’ve met some really sweet parents who are there for a fun day with their kiddos and will chat and encourage manners, sharing, and play time with us. I’ve also come across parents who drop their kids off and don’t look up from their phone on the viewing deck except to glare at you as you walk past and couldn’t care less if their 8 year old shoves your 2 year old into a net wall.
Navigation: Once inside the building, it can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know your way around. The main entrance opens into the restaurant. There’s always a hostess on hand if you need help or want to order food. Otherwise, keep walking srraight ahead. You’ll pass the restaurant seating on the left, coat racks on the right, and then restrooms on the left. When you enter the game room straight ahead you’ll see a staircase on the left- up those steps is the Ballocity entrance- but keep going forward to get to the arcade ticket counter and purchase your admission first!
Amenities: Wifi: Free WiFi is available for those hanging out on the viewing deck area. I’d imagine that’s a handy bonus for moms and dads who can work from anywhere and need to do a bit of business. Cameras: If you aren’t up to going inside the structure or have older kids who arent interested in having you join them, there are cameras placed throughout the structure and tv screens showing the live feed in the viewing deck area. TV: Mixed in with the camera feed tv’s are regular tv’s. I’ve never seen anything on them besides cartoons but something is better than nothing, right? Restrooms: There is a large restroom on the way in and another smaller one up in the Ballocity area. Both have changing tables. Refreshments: You can order a meal any time from the restaurant at the hostess stand and they will pack it up “to go” so you can bring it up to the Ballocity area tables. I always place our order on the way in and they give you a buzzer so you know when it’s done and can run down to pick it up. I’m not the biggest fan of the food but I’m a vegetarian and have limited options (all of which come across as trying too hard to be fancy, in my opinion). During evenings and weekends, there’s also a snack bar open in the go-kart area for lighter fare. Drinks are available at either location, as well as in a vending machine by the staircase in the arcade.
Breastfeeding friendly: Neutral. I’ve never had any trouble but I sit in a corner to avoid conflict with naysayers. I don’t feel those ‘college kid’ staffers would have my back in case of an incident.
– Clean socks for everyone entering the structure.
– Something to do if you aren’t joining the kiddos inside.
– Hand sanitizer. (Lol.)
– I also usually bring my own water for myself and Mini.
– Be mindful of clothing choices. I think it’s smart to have knees covered with all the crawling (I bring baby leggings on warm “shorts” days) and a tee or tank to keep from sweating with all the running around.
– Set a time limit ahead of time. Otherwise, you may never get out of there.
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Summary: In general, The Works is an excellent family entertainment location. While it’s not the absolute top of my list, it’s definitely a preferred place to release energy on cold or rainy days.