Summer birthdays can be tricky. Friends go out of town and trying to keep all the young guests cool can be a struggle. Fortunately, the East Valley has dozens of options that are either indoor or near a pool or lake and great for all ages to enjoy. From toddler to teens, check out our recommendations to get the party started and beat the heat this summer in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa and Queen Creek. Ratings: $ Inexpensive $$ Moderate $$$ Expensive Makutu’s Island 6919 W. Ray Rd., Chandler Description: One of our family’s favorites, this versatile fun center is a trip into fantasy and adventure for children of all ages and a perfect way to beat the Arizona heat. The tropical setting features a lush, exciting indoor “island” trees to slide down, climb, bungee, zip tracker, arcade, café, theater, toddler zone and mysterious caves. Adventurous adults and teens can climb and slide as well, and we’ve been grateful for older cousins that join in on younger kids celebrations. Makutu’s Island has six private party rooms. Parties include unlimited play time and one hour in a private party room. Ages: All ages, 4-, 5- and 6-year olds especially enjoy the adventure activities. $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission is $12.99 and an adult gets in free for every kid. Party Packs: Weekend: $259.99 for 8 kids, $329.99 for 12 kids, $429.99 for 20 kids; less expensive during the week. Tips: Go early because it can get crowded. For more savings, skip the birthday party package—play and then take pizza and a cake to nearby Campbell Park, 9895 S. Beck Ave., Tempe. Arizona Museum of Natural History 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa Description: Dinosaurs that roar and so much more! This Mesa museum has been a favorite of locals for decades and is a perfect place for a dinosaur lover’s birthday party. Take in the three-story Dinosaur Mountain with animatronic dinosaurs, dig for fossils in the Paleo Dig Pit, pan for gold and try the hands-on activities in the Exploration Station. We’ve hosted a 3-year old and 60-year olds party there and both were a huge success with kids of all ages. Ages: All ages will love the experience. $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for Children 3-12, $8 for students 13+ and free for children 2 and under. A Dino-Mite Birthday Party costs $250 for non-members and $200 for Museum members. Price includes 30 people, 1.5 hours in party room, gallery exploration until closing time, plus a take-home craft. You supply the food and paper goods. Tips: Gift Memory Packets are available in the Museum Store for $1.00 each. These make great party favors. Freestone Railroad Park At Freestone Park, 1021 E. Juniper Ave. Gilbert Description: Ride the rails on the miniature railroad, catch a ‘desert wave’ on the waterless Wave Runner, ride the beautiful antique carousel or take a ride on the mini Ferris Wheel. The park boasts 88 acres plus a lake, with a recreation center, fields, a skate park and fishing. Ages: 2-10 $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission, Free. Engineer Party Deal is $12.50 per child, includes rides, balloons, ice cream, table and engineer cap for the birthday child. Tips: No charge for guests who don’t ride on rides. Bring your own decorations, cake and ice cream. Desert Breeze Park 660 North Desert Breeze Blvd. East, Chandler, Description: A trip to Desert Breeze Railroad makes a great outing or birthday party for kids ages 2-10. Take in all the scenery from an open-top train coach or ride the charming antique carousel. There’s a nice lake, splash pad, sport courts, paths and a playground. Ages: 2-10 $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission, Free. Engineer Party Deal is $11.50 per child, 1 free adult ride for each paid party guest. Includes rides, balloons, ice cream, table and engineer cap for the birthday child. Tips: If you think you’ll be a regular visitor to the park, buy a one-year pass to the railroad for $78.50 and you’ll receive 10% discount on birthday parties and snacks. Charming Pony Parties 19814 S. McQueen Rd., Chandler Description: Choose a barn party or a castle party with beautiful ponies that can be dressed to match your party theme. Or, have the party trailer bring the horses to your location. Kids will have a great time “horsing” around! Ages: All ages, 2-10 mostly. $$ Moderate Prices: $350 for 2 ponies, tables and petting zoo for all three birthday packages. Tips: Be creative with the theme! They offer a wide selection of themes, including princesses, unicorns, western, pirates, and more. JakesUnlimited 1830 E. Baseline Rd., Mesa Description: There’s no end to the fun with bumper cars, chocolate tea cups, bowling, a grand prix, laser tag, video games, a train and more. Ages: The 2-10 age group will enjoy the rides, but all tweens and teens will enjoy the video games, laser tag and bowling. $$ Moderate Prices: General admission, $10.99. See website for other pricing specials. Tips: Check the website for height and weight restrictions for rides and attractions so you can prepare youngsters in advance. Go early and get in line for the race cars first with your entire group! Skateland 1101 W. Ray Rd., Chandler Description: A spin around the cool roller rink on a hot summer day always provides great times for kids, teens and even adults. Skateland has a state-of–the-art sound system, live DJ’s, a cafe and a huge arcade with awesome prizes. Three birthday packages are available that can be upgraded to a Glow in the Dark Party. Laser glow necklaces, bracelets and other glow in the dark items are included if you choose the Glow in the Dark Party. Ages: All ages $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission prices vary according to the day. They offer three birthday packages: Ultimate, $16.99 per guest; Deluxe, $13.99 per guest; and Classic at $11.99. Includes variations of skate rental, admission, tokens, pizza, soda and a gift for the birthday child. See website for details. Tips: Order a Cotton Candy Tower if your birthday person favors cotton candy. They also have PVC Pipe trainers for younger kids to hold onto and avoid falling as much. i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa 150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa Description: Formerly the Arizona Museum for Youth, the i.d.e.a. Museum has tons of fun and educational hands-on art activities for families. i.d.e.a. stands for “imagination, design, experience, art.” Tons of multi-sensory experiences that encourage creativity. Ages: All ages, older kids are better able to do art activities, adults are encouraged to find “the child within you.” $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission is $9 for all, under 1, free. Art Studio Birthday Package is $225 for Members, $250 for non-members and includes 20 guests, private room and special art activity. You provide the food and cake. Tips: Don’t forget your socks! Both children and adults must wear socks while visiting ArtVille to help maintain the cleanliness of the space. “Sock-like” slippers with a non-slip bottom are also allowed. Sea Life Aquarium 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Ste. 145, Tempe Description: An oasis in the desert that allows kids to dive in and explore thousands of amazing sea creatures, with a 180 degree sea tunnel. Sea turtles, sharks, rays, pufferfish, sea horses and clownfish–you name it, they’ve got it! You can also do a combo ticket and visit Legoland next door. Ages: Ages 4-12, but all ages will love the amazing creatures. $$$ Expensive Prices: See website for pricing and package details. Tips: Save big money by booking general admission tickets online. LEGOLAND – AZ Mills Mall 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Ste. 135, Tempe Description: Fantastic fun with 12 attractions for the builder in all of us, including miniland, 4D cinema, Kingdom Quest, play zone, racers, earthquake tables and more. Tough to keep track of multiple kids here. Best with a small group of friends. Ages: All ages $$$ Expensive Prices: See pricing on website. Standard Birthday Package is $325, includes admission for 10 guests, private room, beverages and cake; Premium Birthday Package is $455. One free adult for every 5 children with both packages. You can also do a combo ticket and visit Sea Life Aquarium next door. Tips: For General Admission, book your tickets online for best pricing and to guarantee entry. Krazy Air Trampoline Park in Mesa 4310 E McDowell Rd., Mesa Description: Krazy Air Trampoline Park is a 28,000-square-foot indoor family fun center with attractions and activities for all ages and fitness levels. Foam pits, slack line, dodgeball, basketball and fidget ladders available. Parents report a great experience, with food, utensils, décor and cleanup provided. All you have to do is pay and hang out…no stress. You can let the kids run free without having to follow them around. Couches to sit on, one way in, one way out. Ages: All ages, special zone for younger jumpers $$ Moderate Prices: General admission prices vary from $8.75 to $14.75. Birthday Packages: prices vary, see website. Includes 2 hour jump passes, pizza, soda, coupons and Krazy Air shirt for the birthday guest. Tips: You can take your party to the next level with a Bubble Suit or Krazy Cake. Details on website. BounceU 1166 South Gilbert Road, Suite 110, Gilbert Description: A perfect indoor party place for kids, filled with inflatables so kids can bounce their hearts out in a safe atmosphere. The Party Pros make your child feel like a VIP and create great memories. Cosmic Bounce Nights with glow lights add a special touch. Ages: All ages $$ Moderate Prices: Open play and party packages vary, see website. Party packages include beverages, crown, private room and more. Make it “spectacular” by adding balloons, pizza, cake and party favors for another $100 or so. Tips: Receive free pizza when you host your party on a Thursday night. Uptown Jungle-Mesa 5741 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa Description: Voted by Family Magazine as the Best Place for Kids to Break a Sweat, Urban Jungle is a new indoor playground metropolis with trampolines, rock walls, super slides and obstacle courses that will give your guests a great workout! Ages: All ages; review the Height and Weight restrictions to make sure everyone in your party can join in on the fun. $$ Moderate Prices: General admission prices vary, but around $10 for 60 minutes of fun. Three birthday packages to choose from. All three include at least 90 minutes of play, private party room, token, pizza and drinks, see details on website. Tips: Grip socks are required for all participants. Bring your own or buy them there. Kiwanis Wave Pool (Indoor pool) 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe Description: Make a splash at your next bash with a pool party at the Kiwanis Indoor Wave Pool. Kids and adults will enjoy cooling off in a wave pool with three-foot waves, a double spiral water slide and 6 lap lanes. You can rent rafts and tubes. Ages: All ages, children 7 years and under in the water must be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times and be accompanied by an adult, at least 15 years of age, at the following ratio: 0-7 years, 4 children to 1 adult. Children must be 48” to use the waterslide. $$ Moderate Prices: General Admission is $5 for ages 2-12 and $7 for 13+. Three birthday packages: Wave Crave for up to 45 guests; Splash Bash for up to 12 guests; and Sportball Birthday (this is held OUTSIDE the Recreation Center) for kids aged 3-12 for 18 guests. You can add on pizza, goody bags and birthday cake for extra with all packages Tips: Don’t forget the waterproof swim diapers for diaper-aged children. Mrs. Potts Tea Party in Downtown Mesa 264 W. 2nd St., Mesa Description: Turn your young lady or young gentleman into a princess or prince at a Mrs. Potts Tea Party. The wardrobe room at Mrs. Potts Tea Party is unparalleled, containing over 250 dresses, 80 hats, 100+ hairpieces, nearly 200 pairs of gloves and lots of costume jewelry. Family owned and operated in a historical house in Downtown Mesa. This makes for an unforgettable birthday experience. Ages: A petite princess party is available for 3 and up, the other packages are age 7 and up. $$ Moderate Prices: Several birthday packages to choose from, including Petite Princess Party, Dress Up English Tea Party, Mad Hatter Tea Party, Rock Star Party and more. Packages start at approximately $300 for 6 guests and you can customize with a choice of princess hosts, tiaras, games, songs, cake, and face painting. Tips: Appointments are needed if you want to tour the house, but they love visitors and are very flexible. Call 480-827-0654. Karate Party 2727 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa Description: Need a Power Ranger, Ninja Turtle or other action figure party? Try a local karate dojo. Most have fun birthday packages that involve active games and cutting a cake with a samari sword. We like DePalma’s in Mesa because they are great with kids. Ages: 3-12 $$ Moderate Prices Contact: Derek Fellows, Instructor, DePalmas.M@gmail.com, 480-892-3949.
Gymnastics PartyDescription: So many options are available for fun gymnastics parties. We’ve heard great things about At the Matinee, Desert Devils, USA Gym and Mrs. Carol’s Gymkids. Check with each for availability and pricing as they offer many different options for your aspiring Simone Biles. Ages: All $ Inexpensive to Moderate Prices Tips: Inform guests the gym attire is appropriate for the party. Fat Cats in Gilbert 4321 E. Baseline Rd., Gilbert Description: Your birthday party guests will never run out of cool things to do at Fat Cats! Bowling, glow golf, movies, thunder alley and an arcade keep all ages entertained for hours. Ages: All, but pre-teen and teens especially $$ Moderate Prices: Movie, Bowling or Arcade Packages start at $19.99 per guest. They recommend a 48 hour advance notice. Tips: They do corporate parties too! Kids that Rip Mesa 1927 N. Gilbert Rd., Mesa Kids That Rip Chandler 1050 E. Pecos Rd., Chandler Description: Party like a sports star at KTR in a facility packed with possibilities, including skateboard/scooter, gymnastics and Parkour. Your kids can climb, vault, jump, skate and flip to their heart’s content in this cool facility. Ages: All $$ Moderate Prices: Party packages range from $150-450 with additional items available in an a la carte menu. Freestone Recreation Center 1141 E. Guadalupe Rd., Gilbert Description: Best birthday party facility ever, with a rock wall, pool table, foosball, dodgeball and basketball! Seriously, $175 gets you 10 kids, 3 Papa John’s pizzas, soda, paper goods, decorations, party favors, no clean-up or set-up. Just bring your cake and play and walk away. Amazing! Ages: All $ Inexpensive prices: $175 for 10 guests Tips: The Freestone Railroad is next door. Michaels Arts and Crafts Stores Several locations in the East Valley Description: Kid-friendly party themes that include all the craft supplies and a host to assist in a private classroom. Theme suggestions are Dino Adventure, Princess, Superhero, Cooking School, Woodland Creatures, Magical Fairy and more. Jewelry Design and Paint Party for Tweens are popular as well. Bring your own snacks, paper goods and cake. Ages: 4-14 $ Inexpensive prices: $120 for 8 guests Tips: You receive blank invitations and a party bag for the guest of honor. Stratum Laser Tag 1455 S. Stapley Dr. Suite 11, Mesa Description: A favorite family-owned place for young and old alike in Mesa. Stratum boasts a labyrinth of a laser tag arena with over 13,000 square feet of towers, bridges and ramps. The arena features a state of the art sound system with theatrical lights, strobe lights and black lights that light up the 3-D artwork painted by one of the foremost arena artists. Ages: 5 and up. $$ Moderate Prices: Up to 10 players, $299 for Glow Party, $399 for Unlimited Glow Party. Includes party area in the Sky Deck, 2-5 games, tokens, pizzas, beverages and glow in the dark decorations. Tips: The birthday guest wears a special vest that screams “happy birthday” upon deactivation! Game Truck Party Your location Description: This party comes to you! GameTruck’s unique mobile video gaming theaters and arenas makes your party as stress-free as it is spectacular. Choices include Video Games, Laser Tag, and Bubble Soccer. Ages: 5 and up $$ Moderate Prices: call for prices Golfland/Sunsplash 155 West Hampton Ave. Mesa Description: Great place with a wide variety of activities. Parties include a round of mini golf, private arcade access, prize tickets, balloons, pizza, drinks and goody bags. Ages: Packages for 14 and under available OR teen parties for 13-18 $$ Moderate Prices: 10 guests for $199. City of Mesa Pools—Flow Rider at Rhodes 1860 S. Longmore, Mesa Description: The FlowRider crosses snowboarding, skateboarding, and wakeboarding into an exciting ride with plenty of challenges and a whole lot of FUN! The best part is that ANYONE can do it. Even someone with no experience can jump on a boogie board and almost instantly start carving and doing tricks. Ages: Riders must be at least 42″ tall to ride a boogie board and 52″ to ride a stand up flowboard. $ Inexpensive: Party rates vary and begin at $125 per hour. Please call 480-644-4271 for more information including rates and availability. Or just pay general admission and do your own party. The 17 and under price is $5.50 for 1-hour session. Barney Family Indoor Sports Complex—Hockey, Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee Party 22050 E. Queen Creek Rd., Queen Creek Description: This climate-controlled state-of-the-art indoor sporting facility is a great facility with two indoor rinks, one multi-sport floor and the other synthetic turf. Ages: All $$ Moderate Prices: Birthday parties start at $200 for 10 guests and include use of rink for one hour plus pizza and drinks. Over-nighters are available as well for $500 for 10 guests.
At Home ResourcesWant to keep the party at your own house, but bring in some fun – try these resources for your next shin-dig.
- Characters: Great place to book a variety of characters that dress up including new favorites Moana and Elena of Avalor: http://www.fairytaleeventsaz.com/
- Firetruck: Get a real firetruck to your party: http://www.fantasticfiredept.com/phoenix/
- Live Music: Need music? From mariachi music to guitar solos, contact the Mesa Community College or Arizona State University Music departments. Students are always looking for paying gigs and are usually inexpensive.
- Rent a Train: http://desertexpresstrain.biz/
- Mobile Petting Zoo: http://www.thethreeonefive.com/cartersfarm/