Citybration and BuffaloVibe recently announced they will host a party so behemoth that it needs its own tower - the Seneca One Tower that is. This centerpiece of the Buffalo skyline has been vacant since 2013 but not for long. The new owner, developer Douglas Jemal, hs already begun redevelopment. He intends to create a mixed use commercial and residential space. The crew at Citybration and BuffaloVibe hopped on the resurgence train to get the party started.
On June 23rd, attendees will enjoy tours of the new space, music, art, performance art, movies, food trucks, Buffalo-themed gifts and aerial tours of Buffalo. And from the heart of downtown, a view of the sun setting over Lake Erie will present itself. The party starts on the plaza and extends up to the 37th floor.
Until June 23, I turn my attention to other indoor party spaces. It’s time for the kiddos to take center stage.
The KIDS - Indoor Party Venues
My two boys were born in winter when weather rarely permits outdoor birthday party events. The date you set for a sledding party will invariably turn out to be a day of no snow with a slide into an icy mud puddle. The great outdoors is truly the best space for kids’ parties but what to do when appropriate weather is a moment-by-moment proposition?
For six years, my eldest son Sam was an only. With time and resources at our disposal, his December birthday stretched into the New Year. I had time to create unique invitations/thank you cards, custom decorations, gift bags, homemade cakes, and I thoroughly vetted the locales. Our home is too small for big parties. While I became a connoisseur of WNY birthday party spaces, Sam became an enthusiast.
Some of his favorites were decidedly not mine. As a planner, you need to take into consideration expense, distance, and ease. And even though we’ve thrown some great birthday parties, Sam’s favorites are oft-times the ones he attends rather than hosts.
A classmate of Sam’s held his eleventh birthday party at Mohawk Place. His brother’s band played rock and roll. The kids danced, poured their own soda from the gun behind a back bar, and ate pizza. Sam loved it
We joke that Sam’s avatar is the Dude from the Big Lewbowski. He’s easy going, would rather wear shorts or sweats, and says things like “This aggression will not stand.” And to stay in character, his favorite party location is a bowling alley. But our second child, Cal, is a live wire. He doesn’t just attend parties, he is the party every second he’s awake
The Yin/Yang of Parties: Personal parental wisdom on parties:
- If your child’s internal world is calm and easy, s/he will seek out external stimulation. They will love the boisterous - roller coasters, video games, bowling allies - and they can handle the hullabaloo that accompanies it.
- If your child’s internal world is high-spirited, then seek out calm, structured, orderly party environments. Placing high-spirited kids in a sensory-animated situation leads to chaos.
The innate commotion created at the party at Mohawk Place would have been sensory overload for Cal. Cal’s favorite party venue is the Science Museum where kids make dinosaur fossils.
My LEAST Favorite Party Venues that My Kid LOVED
Sam had a blast at every one of these places. Kiddos aside, parents host. Think twice before you get saddled with one of the following:
- Chuckee Cheese - YIKES! The food is terrible (and unhealthy), the event is expensive and wow, it’s loud in there. Before I had kids, I went to a birthday party at Chuckee Cheese and it was the closest I ever came to deciding I might take a pass on parenthood. At one party, one of the kids wouldn’t come out of the tubes hanging from the ceiling. Thankfully they got rid of the bacterial cesspool of rubber balls. The kids lap it up but think about it, what are they wallowing in? That said, Sam has gone to several parties there and loved each and every one.
- Lasertron - another Sam favorite - the big kid’s Chuckee Cheese.
- Tifft Farms - HAH! I bet I surprised you. You thought I’d only harangue the corporate places. I live near Tifft Farms and love it. I would highly recommend almost any of their events. But their birthday party pricing plan sticks in my craw. They charge $150 for 15 children and 10 adults. What parental party host wants to count heads and tell which parent can stay and who has to leave? Many of their party packages are for three-year-olds whose parents might want to stick close by. Even if they did leave for the hour or so of the party, where are they going to go? Starbucks isn’t across the street. It’s winter and only Lake Erie is across the street. Ice fishing hut for one? Ridiculous. I don’t know of any other venue that operates with this policy. Parents should ride for free.
- Martial Arts - Not all, but many of these venues use birthday parties as infomercials. Captive parents are given the hard sell to sign their kids up for lessons. It’s a birthday, not a Tupperware party.
A Personal Touch
One of my favorite birthday parties was hosted by a nursery school classmate of Sam’s. We pre-partied at his house. When we walked through the door, the birthday boy unwrapped his gifts as a way to greet and acknowledge his guests. We ate a hearty stew and made lanterns from tin cans. Then we headed out to a Michaelmas celebration at the Rose Garden where we lit our lanterns and joined the procession. Memorable.
A List of FAVs for Both Parent and Child
This is by no means a complete list. These are venues, where I have either hosted a party or attended one. I thoroughly enjoyed our time there and so I highly recommend the facility.
- Jewish Community Center offers a pool, a bounce house and gym options.
- Sam had his 6th birthday at the YMCA in West Seneca. Their Adventure Room is a blast and they also have a pool party option.
- Gymnastics Unlimited is a favorite. Staff guide and instruct the children on how to use the equipment.
- Rollie Pollies offers a similar experience with foam pits and gymnastic equipment.
Monkey See Monkey Do is the only venue on this list where I have not attended a party. However, when Sam turned three, we hosted one of my favorite parties at Dog Ears Bookstore. A bookstore birthday party is simple and sweet and the parents can relax nearby in the cafe. Dog Ears no longer offers birthday parties, but Monkey See Monkey Do continues the tradition.
- The Buffalo Science Museum
- The Aquarium of Niagara offers a touch tank and a sea lion show
- Buffalo Zoo offers admission to all party goers (parents ride for free), an animal demonstration, and a guided tour.
- Leaps n’ Bounce is my favorite bounce house. We frequently meet Cal’s birth family there. The staff is friendly, helpful and kind. It’s an open space but the adults can easily see their children. It’s a smaller space so there is no din. Adults can converse.
- Another great local bounce house is Kingdom Kids.
- We went to Get Air for the first time last weekend. Sam had his heart set on having his next birthday party at Skyzone but after an afternoon at Get Air, he changed his mind. The place has trampolines galore plus slack line, a ninja course, a kiddie court, and a jump tower.
As I said, this is not a complete list. What’s your favorite indoor birthday party venue? Please leave suggestions in the comment section!