Two years ago, working mother Elaine Herber struggled to find engaging, reliable and affordable activities for her then 16-month-old son.
The Bellevue resident’s solution was to design an indoor, soft playground that encouraged unstructured play for children under 48 inches tall and where parents and caregivers could drop in at their convenience for a low cost.
In November 2012 that vision became reality when the first Wiggle Works kids indoor playground opened at the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue.
Wildly successful, Herber opened a second location at the South Hill Mall last December.
“I liked the focus on family at the South Hill Mall and wanted to locate here,” Herber said.
Since November 2012, more than 19,000 children and their caregivers have enjoyed the Wiggle Works kids experience. Anywhere from 100 to 150 children come through daily at the Puyallup location.
“I wanted a comfortable place for people in the community to come and enjoy,” Herber said. “We make parenting and caretaking easy. You come, and we facilitate the fun.”
The core of the company’s mission is connecting with the community through socialization enrichment, according to Puyallup playground manager Danielle Street.
“We’re like a supercharged approach to staying active,” said Street, who helped Herber launch the Bellevue location in 2012. “Our core values of the company are being humble, having fun, being clean and being safe.”
Street said one thing the Wiggle Works kids staff attains to at all times is cleanliness.
“Playground monitors supervise to make sure everything is safe and clean,” Street explained. “We do rigorous cleaning every two hours.”
Last week, Wiggle Works kids welcomed the summer season with a carnival theme that featured a temporary tattoo station, photo booth, crafts, fishing games for prizes and a bean bag toss. An end-of-the-summer carnival will take place from 2-6 p.m. on Aug. 26.
In addition to carnival activities, the standard soft playground equipment included a dancing jungle gym and slide that moved side to side, a giant rotating hamsterwheel and a slow-moving merry-go-round.
Throughout the year, Thursdays have a different theme, and at noon and 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays is a half-hour reading time. Starting July 1, children can drop in for specialized WiggleWorkshops.
For Nicole and Tony Martinez of Parkland, the indoor playground is very appreciated.
“When I am at work, my wife is here almost every day,” Tony said.
Tony said his 3-year-old daughter Alexandra has plenty to keep her active and engaged.
“It keeps her busy. It wears her out,” Tony added. “She plays for hours.”
Nicole said it’s nice to have something like this close by.
“During rainy days, it’s a great place to be,” Nicole said.
The $10 admission per child, which includes an all-day pass, is very welcoming, she said.
“I always tell people about this place,” Nicole said.
Meanwhile, Mike and Brittany Morgan traveled with their three young children from Chicago to visit family. Mike’s mother told them about the Groupon five-visit-pass deal.
“We thought we’d try it,” Brittany said. “I think it’s a real cool place.”
Herber would like to someday franchise Wiggle Works kids and enter it into other mall markets.
“Right now, we’re really trying to develop a great relationship with our community,” Street said. “It’s an amazing company. I can’t wait to see how great we grow. (Elaina’s) goal is to be the No. 1 most loved children’s playground in America, and we’re working hard to achieve that goal.”
Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001