CONTRIBUTED BY MARY KITZMILLER
Throwing a kids’ birthday party can be stressful, even if you possess a few Martha Stewart-type genes. So if you are new to Seoul, the prospect can be downright daunting. Or maybe you’ve been here for a while, but didn’t know the scoop. Since I have two under my belt, I thought I would share what I know.
When the weather is really nice (Fall, Spring and parts of Summer), there are a number of picnic areas that can be reserved for your party. Bring your ID and go to the front desk at Collier Field (South Post) to make the reservation. It’s free to rent the park (insider hint: picnic area #7 is the one by the golf course and picnic area #2, “MP Hill” – by the gas station are the favorite ones). Please note they will not allow reservations to be made more than 30 days in advance. That being said, if you have a set date for your party, go ahead and reserve it sooner rather than later, as these are popular areas for all type of events.
The picnic areas have a covered seating area and grills for your use. If you need additional seating and/or tents, you can rent them at Moyer Recreation. While you’re at Moyer, you might want to check out the other fun items to rent – bouncy houses, cotton candy machine, pop-corn machine, etc.
Don’t feel like manning the grill during the party? The Navy Club does an awesome job at catering (I recommend the Hot Dog Cart), or you can tap into other eateries on post, such as Anthony’s Pizza or Subway.
Another idea is to take the kids miniature golfing. Located behind Commisky’s, the “putt putt” golf doesn’t hold official parties, but kids are $3.00 and it’s $4.00 for adults. There is a pretty loaded snack bar inside. They recommend giving them a call first if you plan on bringing in a big party, but no official reservations are need.
Too hot or too cold to have a party outside? Not to worry, there are other venues. The Bowling Alley hosts kids parties, and do a good job of it. Their basic package includes bowling, shoes, food, plates, napkins, and food. You are allowed to bring your own cake in. (Insider tip #2: bring your own lighter and utensils for the cake, plus extra plates/forks for the adults.) Price is dependent on the number of kids and how many lanes you wish to occupy. There is the additional option of renting out the private room to help keep things contained.
Dragon Hill Lodge also has a space for children’s parties; over in the area they call The Market Place. The area inside is blocked off for your event, and you have a bird’s eye view to watch the kids play on the playground, if weather allows. Again, food is part of the package and you are allowed to bring in your own cake.
For those members of The Point Health Club at Dragon Hill, the indoor pool can be rented for parties. They will close the pool to others during your celebration. You must be a member to have a bash there, but the guests do not. This option is probably best for a small party.
Burger King has an indoor playground for birthday parties. I confess, I’m not sure how the rest of it works, as I’ve never thrown or been to a party there. But the number to inquire about birthdays is splashed all over the windows.
You can also host a party at the fire station on base. Kids can try on fire gear, climb in the truck and have a grand ‘ole fire station time! (Thanks for the tip, Emily Grace!)
(Photo by Victoria Dawn Photography)
A Few More Pointers:
I’m just going to say it: filling up helium balloons on Post is pricey. It might be best to try to get that done on the economy, limit the number you have or skip them all together.
If you are not a baker, you can pick up an ice-cream cake at Baskin Robbins either on South or Main Post.
If you’re not an ice-cream fan, AFFES sells specialty cakes. You can find the book of designs (Spiderman? Check! Disney Princess? Check! You get the idea.) at the AFFES shoppettes. Order your cake at the bakery counter at the commissary at least a few days in advance. Now, allow me to pass on a cost saving tip that someone told me: order a quarter of a sheet cake, then make some cupcakes at home. Your birthday hero can still get the decorated, globs of frosting with plastic figurine of their dreams, everyone still gets their requisite sugar high and you cut your cost dramatically. Something to think about.
Where ever you end up having your party, remember than having your birthday in Korea is almost a party in itself!
Collier Field: 736-4588
Moyer Recreation: 723-3291
Navy Club: 725-7731
Yongsan Lanes Bowling Alley: 723-7830
Dragon Hill Lodge: 738-2222 / The Point: 738-2222 ext 25
Burger King (South Post): 738-8728
Subway Main Post: 725-4125
Anthony’s Pizza (Main Post): 725-4124
(The numbers for the above listed locations and services can also be found in the Yongsan Community Help Book, provided by the Army Community Services.)