Monthly Archives: August 2011

Maray's Kids n Stuff – Custom Furniture for Kids and Families in T&T

Maray's Kids n Stuff – Custom Furniture for Kids and Families in T&T

Maray's Kids n StuffThose of you who are on “the Facebook” ;) will no doubt recognize the name Maray’s Kids n Stuff by now. They’re absolutely my favourite local kids’ furniture manufacturers.

Before my friends at Forward Multimedia introduced me to them back in May I had no idea that there was anyone in T&T making custom kids’ furniture like these guys. We’re talking high quality, great design and local wood.

I sat down with Raymond and Marcia for a chat, to find out how they managed to branch out into furniture, both coming from very different “traditional” jobs. It turns out Raymond’s always had a passion for building and making things, having been taught woodworking skills at an early age by his uncle. Making the decision to pursue that passion was one they considered very carefully, and one they’ve ventured into together – harnessing Marcia’s business savvy and Raymond’s technical expertise.

Raymond comes alive as he talks about taking up the challenge to produce designs that little kids will fall in love with, and which are likely to become part of their fond childhood memories. As he talks I recall the attachment I had to a piece of “me-sized” furniture from my childhood, and how it awakened my imagination as a child. Sure those were the days of Enid Blyton books, and no TV – but those were also the days before mass-produced furniture with no personality were the norm.

He tells me about the full-wall cupboard handpainted by the artist he works with to bring a favourite cartoon hero to life, and the “reveal” to the child it was made for, and his excitement is contagious. By the time he tells me the satisfaction he feels driving to people’s homes to deliver pieces, and seeing children skipping in anticipation of new “treasures” I can’t help but grin, imagining another twinkly eyed worker delivering presents on Christmas Day.

I love that this is not just work to these guys. They do what they do with heart and soul, and they share a passion for customer service and for quality. They pay attention to the details and they work hard to ensure their pieces are finished to the highest standards to be aesthetically pleasing and completely safe.

Coupled with their willingness to customize their designs to suit your budget, it’s evident they intend for these pieces to become well-loved additions to family homes.

Aqua Fun Park – A Parent's-Eye Review

Aqua Fun Park – A Parent's-Eye Review

Kids + Water = Irresistable fun and that is certainly the case at Aqua Fun Park, open now thru August 28th 2011 in Chaguaramas. O2 Park has been transformed into a family theme park with the main attraction being the 176 foot high Hippo Waterslide. Several smaller waterslides and an above-ground pool surround “The Hippo”, but water rides aren’t the only attractions at the Park. Dry bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses for the younger children, and skill-based activities for the older kids and kids at heart are also available, and let me not forget to mention the daily Parade thru the Park by kids’ favourite characters.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:
THE HIPPO
The Hippo waterslide is the biggest thing in the park. It dominates the area and it provides huge entertainment for both riders and spectators. When I heard about it I honestly wondered whether this thing could really be that tall, and if it was, was it really safe? Well I’ve seen it, and my kids have ridden it, and I can vouch for both its impressiveness and safety.

First of all – it’s huge. The entire thing, steps and all, is inflated and once you see its design you can appreciate how sturdy it is. The angle of the steps at the rear of the ride is not overly steep, and there are padded “walls” to keep you safely there. The front of the ride features not just the wet slide down, but also a slip and slide section extending at least 40 feet out and the entire thing rests on an air cushion at least 5 feet high. Sturdy it is, and those buffering “walls” definitely stand up to the test of the high momentum the riders build up as they come down the wet slide.

And those riders! This ride is not open to anyone under 42 inches, but everyone from kids to adults lined up for this one, and I tell you that rush was a kick to them and to us watching on!

THE WATER RIDES & POOL
There’s a smaller waterslide that is similar to the Hippo for smaller kids. Its slip and slide extension out front has got a small “bump” that gives the kids the thrill of a little lift into the air just before the end.  They LOVE it! There’s also an inflatable slip and slide suitable for small kids (my 2 year old rode it easily with a little push from Mama).

The above-ground pool was a favourite hangour for the teenagers. And with the blue skies overhead and DJ keeping the mood positive, who could blame them!

We saw three lifeguards on duty, and we were able to confirm that the pool is drained and refilled daily, and there are proper filters in place to keep the pool clean. (The attendants are very good about ensuring that everyone showers before entering the pool.)

THE KIDS ZONE
The very littlest kids are not left out of the action at all. The overall quality of planning and organization of the Park shows in this area as well. The Kids Zone has inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses for boys and girls, and the entire area is separated off from the rest of the park. Attendants are everywhere and are vigilant, which will put parents’ minds to rest, and hello Kids + Bouncies? What’s not to love?

HINT: Don’t miss the tractor ride-ons for your little one as well. It’s not in the Kids Zone, because kids driving through the nice Kids Zone garden paths could prove problematic I’m guessing. :) But be sure to look out for them on the right of the Park once you enter.

THE OTHER ATTRACTIONS
Up the incline and heading to the back of the Park, you’ll find racing of remote control cars around a track, mini-golf, bungee-racing and more. These are definitely for the 8-yr old and older set, as is “The Arcade” where there are Wii consoles and games to be played.

THE PARADE
The Parade had to be my second favourite thing of the day – the first being the Hippo which I was too chicken, I mean sick, to ride. Why would an hour long parade of Spongebob and Patrick, Elmo and Cookie Monster, and other varied characters be one of my favourite things? Ahh…. because there is a Spiderman. This Spiderman is THE best natured costumed character I have every encountered! And let me tell you – he’s got the moves! Spiderman gets his groove on – and it is impossible not to smile. Kids of all ages love him (as do the adults), and I even saw some teenagers pretend to run-at and then get-thwarted-by “The Webbed One”.

The Parade goes all through the Park, to the tunes of the DJ, and lasts about an hour. It happens at 3pm daily – and after the Parade, the Sunshine Snacks man hands out snacks to all the good little kiddies!

THE DJ
I really could not do this review without giving a special shout-out to the DJ. DJ CIN kept the energy levels up, and it wasn’t just teenagers shaking what their Mamas gave ‘em today in the Park! Impossible not to smile with the music and positive vibes coming from this DJ. Big Up!

THE STAFF
The rides were well represented with attendants in their signature pale blue polos, and they were all courteous and pleasant, in my experience. I’ll go as far as to say very attentive as well, because I personally witnessed a girl of about 9 who had taken a small spill and burst into tears and there was no-one around to comfort her. Poor thing was so forlorn for a moment that I started to make my way to her, but before I could get there she was ably scooped up by Park Attendants who took care of her and reunited her with her family. LOVE THAT!

FOOD/DRINK
I’m aware that there have been some concerns about Park visitors not being able to bring in external food and drink. Some were afraid that the food would be exorbitantly priced. It’s not. Prices seem pretty standard – I’m talking $5 water/softdrinks, and $5 hot dogs. There’s heavier food on sale as well as popcorn, cotton candy, frozen lollies, and lots of other snacks.

THE COST
At $150 per person, and with no outside food or drink allowed, the cost definitely adds up. Is it worth it? We think so. Here’s why…

The Park is very well organized and it’s obvious a lot of thought and planning went into this. There really is something for everyone from toddlers to adults, and it’s enough to keep you occupied all day. And as much fun as riding the Hippo is, it’s not likely to be something you want to do every day, or even every weekend. It’s kind of a special occasion thing. So for a whole day – all rides – once in a blue moon kinda thing, the price could be just right.

The lines were not unbearable even when the park started to fill up in the mid afternoon. But for $150/day why show up mid-afternoon? Even if it drizzles, with the main attractions being wet rides, you were probably not planning to stay dry all day anyway. Parents, expect your teenagers to want to visit this one without you. We saw witnessed a great vibe, attention to safety, and lots of staff on-hand keeping an eye on the happenings.

OUR RECOMMENDATION
If it won’t break the bank, then be sure to check this one out. Show up early and make the most of it!

Aqua Fun Park is open 10am-6pm every day from August 6th thru 28th.
Check them out on Facebook or at http://www.aquafunparktt.com
They do birthday bookings and offer group rates.

Holiday Surprises coming soon!

Stay tuned for updates!
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