Last weekend in Pointe-Claire, a new amusement center opened called the Centre d’amusement Lapins Crétins. Based on the Ubisoft characters, the Rabbids, this center has been promoted as a “connected and technological experience” where families can play together. It consists of playrooms with children under 12 in mind, as well as areas for eating and party rooms for birthdays. Given the kiddo’s sensory sensitivity, we have generally avoided play gyms as they can be a recipe for disaster (loud noises, chaotic environment, unpredictability). But as he responds so well to technology intermixed with play, I was very interested to see if the Rabbids environment would be a good sensory activity for him. So I conversed with the center via Facebook how sensory friendly the center was for children and was invited to tour the center to see for myself. I think their openness to showing their center in this manner really reflects the thoughtfulness of creating a place for the whole family in mind. I was really excited to take the kiddo to see the place and see what the Amusement Center was all about!
So on the Tuesday after the opening of the center, the kiddo and I met with Virginie, the very friendly marketing coordinator of the center. The entrance is a divided into a queuing area where there are some cute photograph-worthy diversion to help the wait in line. To the left of the reception desk, there is a gift shop with appropriate Rabbids merchandise. The reception staff was cheerful and helpful to the guests, and brought us to our host. Now as the kiddo’s biggest sensory sensitivity is hearing, I was prepared with noise-cancelling headphones in anticipation of the noise levels. He asked for them immediately when we entered the reception area. Not to say the acoustics were extremely loud, I expected this reaction given the center was overall stimulating in all senses. He wore them for the duration of the stay (4 hours!), though we did try to take them off on occasion just to give his head a break!
Virginie gave us some heads up before we entered that we would be going through all the areas, and that we would try to quickly go through the rooms that may be too much for the kiddo. Also that every hour on the 30 min mark, an animation plays in one of the areas that was very active and we would avoid it for now. Kiddo was excited and positive so far, so we were good to go! Upon entering, every one in your party is given a band to wear and a photo of you and your child is taken. You can only enter and exit the center by scanning your band and the photo is compared before you leave. It is a nice safety factor, especially if you have a large number of kids in your party or a “runner.” As you enter the center, you get access to free lockers of all sizes for you to place your belongings. Very nice touch, given the usual huge bags of supplies that always come when you have kids in tow!
Past the lockers you enter the main dining area with plenty of seating and couches. It was relatively quiet, given it was a Tuesday before the start of the school year. The area was very open and I think even on a busy weekend would have enough space to accommodate a crowd. The first activity you encounter is the virtual reality station where players wear a VR Gaming headpiece and sit in a moving chair. There are two stations and a queue, and I imagine the line ups here could get long. We did not try this out, though the kiddo showed interest. Perhaps a future visit. To the right of the station was the main Submarine play structure that was three levels. The front area had a fun control panel that the kiddo enjoyed playing with. You enter the submarine through a porthole and there were two tiered climbing areas to get to the second and third level. Slides are mixed between the three levels and there are various climbing activities and places to explore. The structure can accommodate adults and I had a lot of fun exploring it with the kiddo! There are lots of viewing areas for you to check on your kids and vice versa. It’s a really adorable structure and fit the theme of the center.
Beyond the submarine is a very active room with 2 large ball pits and a climbing wall. Our host said in terms of sensory sensitivity, this was definitely the loudest room of all. And it was a Tuesday, so not as busy as it would be on a weekend for sure, but I would definitely agree this being the most “challenging” room sensory-wise. There were balls everywhere! Fun but the OCD in me wanted to start tidying up! In fact there is one person on staff with a ball net wrangling the loose balls constantly. I spoke to her briefly, being empathetic to the continuous ball pickup she was doing. She said at closing, the entire staff is tasked to pickup the balls and it takes 15-20 minutes to do so. I can see some possible safety issues here but it was definitely an appealing room to play in!
There were tubes to suspend the balls in the air (though at the time only half were working), jump-powered ball pumps that sent them projecting back into the pits, projected animations of Rabbids that you could throw balls at and they would react accordingly. Two of the slides from the submarine slide into one of the ball pits as well. One is definitely steeper/faster than the other, be forewarned! It’s the one that most of the older kids were barreling out of naturally! The rock wall is large and wasn’t too busy when we were there. It is built with a fort-like structure inside for climbing. There was a lot going on in this room and the kiddo did great!
Past the ball pit room is the breastfeeding area, and it is lovely to see an area dedicated to this. I peeked in and saw cozy chairs and it looked peaceful and quiet. Beyond this room are the most thoughtful and well laid out bathrooms I’ve encountered. I may be crazy to be excited over bathrooms, but sensory sensitive bathrooms are a BIG deal for us. I’m sure the designers had kids in mind (for the whole center really) because the details in the bathrooms are wonderful. The toilets have kids seats build in to the structure. No need to carry around the extra equipment! Also no automatic flush, which the kiddo really dislikes. (Quick tip: post-it notes are awesome to carry around to block the auto flush!) The sinks all had stools and were run on a sensor at just the perfect temperature! There was a hand dryer but also paper towels, awesome since kiddo will run out of the bathroom at the sound of those dryers. Disney World, you really ought to take notes here!
We went to the lab room next which was the kiddos favorite. There were 4 activities in the room and it was always occupied but we did not have to compete for space. The center table has an awesome moon sand table with lots of shaping tools to play with. The blocks to sit on were adult-friendly. The attendant let me know the “sand” was a mixture of flour and baby oil (heads up to the gluten sensitive) and it was so soft and molded easily. A very appealing texture to play with, but that said, we had quite a bit stuck on our clothing! Kiddo loved the sand most of all! To the right of the table were three brick building areas. Two have a timed function that causes the table to vibrate after a certain period. It was super fun to build and test our structures! The kiddo and I build a brick fort around him while he was sitting on the table, and he had so much fun sitting in the middle of the vibrating destruction! The attendant present was great interacting with the kids and doing general clean up of the bricks and sand. I imagine this area gets very busy on more crowded weekends. There was also an animated station in the room that you interact with your entrance band and a mini ball lab for the younger ones to play with. It would be amazing if this room was expanded for more “lab-like” activities. The kiddo is so science-minded and this would certainly appeal to him!
Last area of the tour was the garden for the 0-3 set. It was gated off so a nice safe retreat for the younger crowd. There was a lot of space and play-things: interactive Rabbids, some different slide structures, a couple of play pits. There was the cutest barnyard fort and garden area that you could “plant” toy veggies in a pillow field. The three rideable chickens completed the themeing. Lots of seating available for the parents. I think it was another well thought out addition to the center and I could see a younger kiddo enjoying it. Though not mine at that age, the noise would have been way too much!
We did not have a chance to eat a meal at the center but the menu looks fairly reasonable price-wise. While the usual sweet treats (cotton candy, ice cream) were on offer, I really liked that these were not glaringly out on display and the case had fruit options. Also the meals were appealing to adults, not the usual hot dog/hamburger/pizza offerings at standard kids places.
The center does have 3 party rooms available for rent and they were adorable! The themes are pirate, candy and princess and various packages are available differing in duration and inclusions. I’d really consider having the kiddos birthday here, since he loves the center. Also if you are a Troop member, you can get discounts on the party packages along with other benefits. It costs $39.99 to join the Troop. After 4 entrances, you get the 5th entrance for free, so the membership does pay for itself if
you plan to come often enough. We did become Troop members and plan to visit soon, especially since we did not really play the interactive games with our bands very much. We tested the console and our first challenge was to find two rubber ducks around the center. Perhaps we were having too much fun exploring, but I only saw one duck in an unreachable spot. There were families around with arms full of ducks. Were they stockpiling or perhaps further along in the challenges, I am not sure. You supposedly are able to exchange points for prizes. But we will have to go back and try to look more!
We had a great time at the Rabbids Amusement Center and it was nice to see the kiddo really enjoying such a sensory challenging environment. I really did not expect for us to stay as long as we did! The kiddo is excited to go back, so I’d say the center was a successful adventure for us, and one we will definitely do again!