Tiny town with toys draws youngsters’ smiles - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Tiny town with toys draws youngsters’ smiles

August 7th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Tiny town with toys draws youngsters’ smiles
Family Fun

By Colleen Sparks, Managing Editor


Smiles spread quickly among small children pounding on a toy piano, playing dress-up in pretend firefighter outfits and whizzing around a tiny town on little cars at a Chandler business.

Mothers and grandmothers keep their eyes on their children while unwinding on couches and chairs in the air-conditioned, indoor playground called Giggles on North Alma School Road, slightly south of Elliot Road.

The business features old-fashioned wood play equipment including jungle gyms, a pretend house, a “tree house” and slides, as well as kid-friendly, small vehicles, make-believe stoves, baby dolls, a stage with a toy piano, a child’s drum and microphone, an area with faux firefighter and chef clothes and hats and a trampoline.

Open to kids 9 months to 6 years old who are accompanied by adults, it offers a kitchen with a microwave and free coffee, private nursing room and diaper-changing rooms and an enclosed area reserved for birthday parties.

Sanghee Lee and his wife, June Lee, own the indoor playground, but Sanghee spends most of the time operating it while June stays home to take care of their daughters, Addison, 7, and Kylie, 4.

They owned the same type of business, called Hippity Hop, in Corona, California, for three years before selling it and moving to Chandler.

Sanghee said he wanted to start an indoor playground because when his daughters were 1 and 3, there was “no place to go with them” as entertainment venues are for older children.

“Whenever I see the kids, I love their smile,” said Sanghee, who also designed the playground for children to get exercise, use their imagination and play with other children and not just sit in front of video games.

“My daughter asked me to make a treehouse, I made it,” he said, adding he designed and built it with his wife’s help. “I love to build with wood,” he explained.

Young children run around the soft, rubber-like surface in the mini-city as they dart in and out of play areas. They steer miniature cars on a gray, hard street created in between the play equipment and trampoline.

Adults said they liked the clean business with cedar wood equipment. Sanghee said he likes because it “smells good.” At its busiest, Giggles can host 75 to 80 children at a time.

Recently, Nikki Brady of Mesa sat on a couch doing a craft project as she watched her daughter Georgia, 4, run all over the playground.

At one point she got up and played with Georgia as the young girl tried on a simulated firefighter’s vest and plastic helmet and then a pretend chef’s hat and jacket. Georgia grabbed fake food inside a playhouse and put it in a wood stand with shelves to simulate market sales.

“I like it,” Brady said. “She’s got kids to play with. She’s (Georgia) loving it. I like this because I can see her and see everywhere she is. Her favorite thing is the dress-up. I like the variety. She loves the music. She hasn’t once asked to play with my phone so that’s a good thing.”

She said the price, $10 a day for unlimited play, was reasonable. Customers can also buy a monthly membership for unlimited visits for $49 per month.

People can rent the party room for $199 for up to 10 children to play for two hours in one day. It costs $10 per additional child after the first 10 kids for the party rentals. Customers can bring their own food and decorations for those gatherings.

Kathy Holmes of Gilbert and Linda Woodyard, who was visiting from Michigan, took their twin granddaughters, Ava and Adalynn Holmes, 3, to play at Giggles.

Ava and Adalynn slid down slides, hung in hammocks, played dress-up and moved around quickly engaging in other activities.

“It’s really cute,” Kathy said. “The kids never wanna go home. We brought their lunch. They love it. They’re active.”

The grandmothers said they liked that they could take the girls to play inside because of the scorching outdoor temperatures.

Sanghee said the community and fellow business owners have been really supportive.

Originally from Korea, he moved to California to attend college, but did not finish and then worked other types of jobs including as a warehouse manufacturer for a company that made jeans. The lower cost-of-living in Chandler as compared to California prompted him and his family to move here.

“Right here is perfect,” Sanghee said. “I love that Chandler is a pretty developing city. People are so nice.”

He said he also likes that street traffic is relatively light around Giggles and there are many shopping centers in the city.

Giggles is located at 2988 N. Alma School Road, No. 2. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Information: giggleskidz.com.

Photos by Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer

Sanghee Lee spends most of his time operating his Chandler business, Giggles, a playland for kids 9 months to 6 years old. He owned a similar business in California before moving here.