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Here's some mall talk

Shopping malls are more than just places to fill your trolley with purchases. Today, they are also areas for entertainment and leisure – places where your kids can enjoy themselves while you shop at leisure. In a special feature on shopping malls in the region, Friday checks out what the major malls have on offer for kids while admiring some classy window displays

Gulf News


©Gulf News
Shopping malls are more than just places to fill your trolley with purchases. Today, they are also areas for entertainment and leisure – places where your kids can enjoy themselves while you shop at leisure. In a special feature on shopping malls in the region, Friday checks out what the major malls have on offer for kids while admiring some classy window displays.
As far as tiny tots are concerned, the mall is not a place to shop. It's somewhere where you play, enjoy, make new friends... As the climate makes it difficult to indulge in outdoor activities for at least half the year, the malls are easily the major places where they can entertain themselves to their heart's content.
Friday peeks into some of these places of pleasure to see what they have to offer.

Planet Sega – Bur Juman
Planet Sega, located on the 3rd Level of Bur Juman, alongside the Food Court, caters to 4-year-olds to young adults. "It belongs to the Majid Al Futtaim group of companies who also run Magic Planet," says Marius Gentry, centre manager. "Due to size constriction here, we have divided it into two areas – the redemption centre for smaller children, and the video arcade for the older age group."
At present it operates 85 video games and 35 redemption games, and has something for kids of all ages. "The redemption area ensures that all the little ones are kept happy – everyone is rewarded with some kind of prize against their redemption tickets.

Planet Sega... fun for kids. - ©Gulf News
"The mini bowling alley is for families or groups of all ages. We are always trying to add new facilities and games at our outlet, because kids can get bored soon. The newest ones include Jurassic Park which is a virtual reality game. It is based on Steven Speilberg's movie. There is one particular point where the dinosaur opens its mouth and breathes flames. You can almost feel it," says Gentry.
"Then there is 'Silent Scope', a shooting game. 'Spike Out' is a cabinet game for four people. Again, it's a virtual reality game where one could either play singly with the board, or against a friend.
"Birthday parties are also organised. For a small group, we have it in one of the food outlets here, while for a big group, the party is held in the redemption area with a special gift and tokens at special rates."

Fun Town – Town Centre
A major attraction for young shoppers is the hi-tech Amusement Centre, which houses a range of exciting play stations some of which are not available anywhere else in Dubai. The games cater to various age groups – from toddlers to teenagers to young adults.
"This is a family-oriented mall,'' says Debbie Russo, mall manageress of Town Centre. "Our games are slowly focusing on the soft play areas for the smaller age group bringing in everything to suit them. We often have mothers who stroll off into the shops while the tots play at Fun Town. The children are supervised and are perfectly safe with us."

Fun Town. - ©Gulf News
Weekends normally see Fun Town full up, says Debbie. To avoid queues, they have introduced a token vending machine to enable the kids to get to their games faster. All the machines are constantly maintained and safe, with new games being introduced at regular intervals.
"Our redemption area is particularly attractive to our little customers, because we constantly update and change the prizes they receive against their tickets. With 76 games, of which 50 are redemption games, there are a lot of gifts to be given away. In our planned extension, we are focusing on soft play area with a huge redemption area so the kids are kept happy."
Fun Town holds joint schemes with the shops in the mall, says Debbie. Every kids' meal at the restaurant comes with tokens for the kids. The coffee shop gives away free tokens with the Friday Brunch. Birthday parties are arranged jointly with restaurants so kids can play at Fun Town utilising the free tokens.
"We have various token schemes – the more tokens you buy, the less you pay. Sunday is reserved for kids from orphanages who are allowed free play for the day. Food is provided free of cost by one of the restaurants.
For occasions like Halloween and Christmas, Fun Town joins in with the rest of the mall and celebrates with the kids, providing free tokens. With the new extension coming up, kids can look forward to many more hours of fun.

Fun City – Oasis Center

Debbie Russo. - ©Gulf News
Located next to the food court, Fun City is a big attraction with children. Shyam Pillai, assistant operations manager says that at present, the 10,000sq.ft. area of Fun City is divided into different zones.
"We have the ever popular redemption area with 25 redemption games. The prizes that the kids receive are always changed and are very attractive to them. Then we have the play zone, which is extremely popular because there are many areas for adventurous activities. The mini Train Ride is another facility that children love.
"There are novelty games for the younger children as well as the inflatable area where the kids can jump around. Apart from this, there are the kiddy rides – again targeted at the little ones.
"For young adults, we have shooting games and the Pin Ball machine, as well as the driving simulation games and, of course, the video games."
Fun City looks after the kids while parents go off to shop or eat. They also take down the mobile number of the parent so that they could be contacted in an emergency.
"We plan to categorise the areas according to age groups. Fun City is also planning interactive deals with shops in the mall and the food court. For birthday parties, special token deals are  on offer – it's a popular venue with the customers," he says.
Encounter Zone – Wafi Mall
Dominic Barlow, operations manager at Encounter Zone, says his outlet stays ahead by responding to  customer feedback and because of the years of experience the company has in running it.
"Encounter Zone is split into two – Lunar Land for children above 2, and Galactica for teenagers and adults. In fact, Galactica provides plenty of games for adults," he says. "Lunar Land offers the soft-padded cell, the Lunar Capsule and loads of redemption offers. We are planning to remove the soft, inflatable Bouncy Castle and replace it with a bigger space-oriented assault course for kids to bounce around in.

Avijit Yadav with a model of the town. - ©Gulf News
"The Chamber of Horrors is changed every month while the video games are constantly updated to include the latest ones." The roller blading area is now being expanded to ramps, grind rails and quarter pipe
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