OliOli Is An Incredible New Indoor Play Space Opening On October 15th
So this is my third attempt at trying to describe Dubai’s latest play space because, in all honesty, words just don’t do it justice (and I’m still so giddy with excitement after our visit that trying to sit still and get my thoughts together is proving difficult!). So here goes. If, like me, the thought of an indoor soft play area fills you with dread and if, like me, you have slightly older kids for whom ball pits and mini slides just don’t cut it anymore and if, like me, you want your children to learn through play, to use their imagination and their creativity without being completely over stimulated then you will absolutely LOVE OliOli.
The latest indoor play area to open in Dubai (they’ll be properly opening their doors on October 15th), OliOli (which means ‘Joy’ in Hawaiian) is unlike anything else in the city – a truly visionary venue whose founders (parents themselves) have taken inspiration from their travels and from the most successful children’s museums, science centres and art studios across the world to create ‘tomorrow’s playground’. And here’s the thing. OliOli is about engaging with your children – this isn’t a ‘drop and play’ or ‘watch from the sidelines’ (aka sit in the cafe on your device while they roam) type of place. This is about spending quality time together, about discovering together, about having heaps of fun together! Each visit will allow 2 hours of play and is guaranteed to be awesome.
With 8 separate galleries spread over 2 beautifully designed floors, OliOli offers plenty of natural light and space (something that most play areas here don’t!) and an environment that allows for natural exploration rather than over-stimulation. There are cute little details around every corner – from birds to butterflies, pops of paint colour to quirky sculptures, I imagine that each visit to OliOli will allow you and the kids to discover something new. In total, the galleries include over 40 interactive, whimsical and wonderful things to do – unlocking creativity at every turn and sparking a genuine love of learning while really friendly smiley staff encourage the children to go for it (there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way here). It was impossible to pinpoint a favourite – and my kids change their minds every time I ask them which galleries they loved most – but these were our highlights:
Toshi’s Nets. SERIOUSLY WOW! A Climbing/swinging gallery entirely made of a colourful nylon structure that’s been hand crocheted for over a year by 78 year old textiles artist Toshiko MacAdam and that I had just as much fun in/on as my little people, even if I did get stuck! There are all sorts of ways to navigate this amazing structure and the kids had a ball assessing how to do it and joining forces in a funny little improvised game of ‘meerkats!
Air. Building airplanes, checking out a hurricane booth, playing with floating sculptures – SUCH FUN!
Future Park. Ok…so how’s this for cool – designing a fish and then watching it come to life on a digital wall? There’s plenty more in this area too but my 3 were mesmerised by Violet the ‘nemo princess fish’, Arthur the ‘shark’ and Felix the ‘swordfish’ swimming through a digital underwater world.
Forts & Dens. Which kid doesn’t love building dens? Mine do it regularly at home but this dedicated area at OliOli takes den-building to a whole new level. There are fabrics and clips and wooden structures to use – absolute kid heaven.
Cars & Ramps. We built cars out of lego and then launched them down ramps to see how they’d withstand the speed – the dads in the group got seriously into this with the kids!
Creative Lab. Making robots from everyday items and then drawing with them?! Yes, really! This STEAM focused space allows kids to make (or unmake) just about anything they can imagine which was perfect for Arthur my little 5 year old who regularly comes home from school with ‘inventions’ made of just about every piece of household recyclables possible.
Toddler Space. My kids didn’t spend much time here but it looked beautiful. Just next to the Forts & Dens this bright area has been especially designed for youngest visitors to learn fine & gross motor skills, complete with areas to ‘peek-a-boo’ from, a little pretend garden and lots more cuteness.
Water. We saved this area for last as my little ones are guaranteed to get soaking wet wherever water is involved (bring spare clothes even though cute little yellow macs are provided!). They washed a car, they filled tubes, they ran under a ‘waterfall’ and fired special balls into nets.
Trying to extract my children from OliOli after 3 hours was a challenge to say the least and they’ve been BEGGING me to go back ever since. And this is one place we’ll be returning to again and again, a truly inspiring space for kids to learn and play and just be kids. OliOli also has a lovely cafe area and will be offering birthday parties with catering by the Organic Foods & Cafe – and absolutely no loud music or screaming into a microphone. Pure joy.
OliOli will open its doors to the public on 15 October 2017.
OliOli Building, 4th Street, Al Quoz, Dubai (Behind Oasis Center)
Opening hours: 9am to 7pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays and 9am to 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
Ticket price: Prices start from AED 120 per child and AED 40 for adults