Lila Baltman knows a lot about kids birthday parties. First, as a Phoenix mom of three, she has hosted quite a few. And with her own public-relations and marketing firm (she specializes in clients with a kids-friendly focus) she has seen lot of fun venues and party packages.
Off the top of her head, Baltman can name local businesses that will bring an entire formal tea party or performing princesses to your house.
“I know magicians, clowns, balloon artists,” Baltman said. “Birthday parties are fun. My twin sister had a birthday-party business. She did a circus party a couple of years ago that we still talk about. The parents spent $20,000 on a 6-year-old’s birthday party” in Connecticut.
Baltman doesn’t often go overboard on her own kids’ birthdays. As they’ve gotten older, her teenage sons — 14 and 16 — have mostly wanted family dinners out. Last year, her daughter’s eighth birthday was a sweet, low-key affair for a few close family members: a trip to American Girl at Scottsdale Quarter and macarons at a nearby French pastry shop.
But when it was time for her daughter’s ninth birthday in September, Baltman found the ideal spot and spent hours on Etsy and Pinterest planning the “purrfect” details for Danielle, who’s obsessed with cats and dogs. The venue? The Humane Society, which was advertising its parties when Baltman dropped off her daughter for a veterinary day camp.
“It’s a big party room, and the kids are going to get to play with the animals,” Baltman said before the party. “The parents are really curious … they’re looking at Danielle’s birthday party like a fun field trip.”
Already, she was having custom dog-and-cat cupcakes made and planning a menu that included “pupperoni pizza” and “poochie punch,” Twizzler “chew sticks” and doggie-bag party favors.
Planning a birthday should be fun, and finding just the right fit for your child’s interests is a great start.
Raising Arizona Kids has huge online directories of Valley birthday venues, party entertainers and even party rentals and supplies. We update these listings throughout the year as we learn of new local businesses or changes to existing ones.
For our October issue, we focusing on a few specific categories — such as new venues, “best for your budget,” “cool enough for teens” and fun learning experiences (including parties at the Humane Society or Halle Heart Children’s Museum, which helped us stage a “photo shoot party”). New-to-the-Valley venues include Polar Play, which offers chilly adventures in a 23-degree space.
So get planning, have a fantastic celebration and send us photos of your child’s special day: editorial@RAKmagazine.com.
Newest Valley venues
15059 N. Scottsdale Road, No. 100, Scottsdale
877-247-5223 • americangirl.com
Ages 3 and older. Girls and their dolls can celebrate with goody bags, doll tiaras and a meal. Packages include a special gift for the birthday girl, signature cake and ice cream, invitations and thank-you cards, a table activity and a take-home craft. $30-$47 per child, $20-$37 per adult. Twelve-person maximum.
Legoland Discovery Center
5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe
877-526-3960 • legolanddiscoverycenter.com/arizona
Ages 3 to 12. Birthday child and friends will build and create with full access to the center. Includes private party room and dedicated host, beverages and cake. Premium package features pizza and a private model-building session that results in a finished product kids can take home. $325 and up. 10-guest minimum.
Mission 2 Play
1315 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler
480-980-7952 • m2ptactical.com
Ages 10 and up. Tactical archery or laser tag party complete with technical gear and equipment. Packages include 30 minutes of safety training, one hour of archery or laser tag (or both), sports headband and plenty of water and sports drinks. Add-ons include private party room, food, drinks and cake. $24-$39 per person.
9500 E. Via De Ventura, Salt River Reservation
877-558-3541 • polarplay.com
This new venue next to OdySea Aquarium promises the coolest experience in the desert with its thermostat set at 23 degrees. Parties in the private party room include coats and gloves for guests, a scavenger hunt and full access to the Cold Zone (with ice sculptures and games) and the Explorers Club, where kids can warm up by the fire. Parties include penguin or polar-bear decorations, a personalized birthday cake or cupcakes and a polar prize pack for each guest. $30 per person for 90 minutes; eight-guest minimum.
5000 Arizona Mills Circle, No. 669, Tempe
480-648-1222 • tiltstudio.com
Ages 3 and up. Modern, interactive video games plus an entire second floor dedicated to such classic games as Pac Man and Asteroids. Attractions include Time Freak interactive 3-D prop game. Party packages include unlimited soda, choice of pizza, hot dogs, beef or chicken sliders, tater tots and breadsticks plus a $10-$15 game card for each guest. $17.99-$21.99 per person; 10-guest minimum. Add-ons include unlimited access to all video games for two hours ($5 per guest).
Especially for little ones
Great Arizona Puppet Theater
302 W. Latham St., Phoenix
602-262-2050 • azpuppets.org
Ages 3 and up. Enjoy original and traditional shows performed by professional puppeteers. Afterward, kids design their own puppets with paper bags, scissors and glue. Package includes use of the party room, refrigerator and microwave for three hours. $100 room rental plus $5 per person, including adults.
150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa
480-644-4332 • ideamuseum.org
Ages 1-10. Art-studio party includes museum admission and a hands-on, age-appropriate art activity lead by museum staff members. Packages also feature a private party room, host and table covers. Bring your own food, cake and party supplies; the museum does not allow balloons. Ninety minutes of party time. $250 for 10 children and 10 adults; $8-$10 for each additional guest.
4142 E. Chandler Blvd., Phoenix
480-940-4967 • mygym.com
Ages 6 weeks to 10 years. Customizable theme and party activities plus private access to entire gym. Party includes decorations, paper products, tablecloths and utensils. Ninety minutes to two hours. $265-$365.
Ready, Set, Play!
4568 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix
602-482-0287 • readysetplayaz.com
Ages 6 months to 6 years. Bouncers, climbers, rides and toys for little ones. Party includes a coordinator, access to private rooms, background music and coffee for adults. Parents can bring their own food or pay for pizza. Two to three hours. $285-$785.
Toys & Playtime Oasis
13802 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-948-4630 • azdollhouse.com
Ages 5 and younger. This longtime local toy store features a large indoor playroom with lots of developmental, creative, bouncing and building toys. $250 for two hours.
Good for tweens
Castles N’ Coasters
9445 Metro Parkway East, Phoenix
602-997-7575 • castlesncoasters.com
All ages. Customizable packages featuring all-day unlimited rides, mini-golf and video games. All packages include one hour in a party room with personal party host, pizza, unlimited drinks, ice cream and paper products. Ten-person minimum. $10.75-$27.75 per guest.
4321 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert
480-498-3323 • gilbert.fatcatsfun.com
Choose bowling or movie themes. Each package comes with a host and $5 arcade card. Bowling includes shoe rental, group photo and party balloons. Movies feature choice of film plus one-hour reservations at Fat Cat’s Pizini Pizzeria, glow golf, group photo and more. Add-ons include glow golf and pizza for bowling parties and drinking cups shaped like bowling pins for movie parties. $14.99-$24.99 per person; eight-person minimum.
455 E. Warner Road, Chandler • 480-270-8008
5665 W. Bell Road, Glendale • 602-889-0081
“Earthquake” package for kids 7 and younger includes two hours of access to inflatables and mini trampolines. “Jumpstreet” package for kids 8 and older features two hours of full access to the main trampolines, dodgeball courts and all other activities. Add-ons include pizza, drinks, cake, paper goods and party room (Glendale only). $5-$20 per person.
Kroc Corps Community Center
1375 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix
602-425-5000 • krocphoenix.org
Ages 5-16. Splash Bash Pool Party includes full access to the Kroc Corps aquatics center with water cannons, splash buckets, a 170-foot twisting slide and a splash pad for little guests. Party packages include swim passes for 15 to 50 people and an event attendant. Bring your own food and beverages or have it catered. Three hours of swim time. $220-$500.
Cool enough for teens
8743 E. Pecos Road, Ste 136, Mesa
480-888-0499 • azgrindskatepark.com
Unlimited use of the park’s many skating surfaces and features, including ramps, rails, verts and bowls. Decorations and paper goods are included, along with gift bags for each guest, AZ Grind T-shirt for the guest of honor and two large one-topping pizzas. Bring your own cake, drinks, ice and cups. Two and a half hours of ride time for up to 10 guests. $219 and up; additional guests $5 each.
2425 S. 21st St., Phoenix
602-275-5278 • k1speed.com
Two to four practice, qualifying and final electric go-kart races consisting of at least 12 laps each. All packages include medals for top three finishers, racing score sheet, podium photo, eVite and T-shirt. Must be 4-foot tall. Eight-person minimum (nine on weekends). $44-$80 per person.
5410 E. High St., No. 105, Phoenix
480-636-8010 • pinspirationaz.com
Want to paint like artist Jackson Pollock (who, BTW, grew up in Arizona)? This make-and-take crafter’s paradise lets guests create a splattered-paint canvas, make an alcohol-ink tile or tackle other choices on its crafting menu. Or choose from fun party themes ranging from Paris to Pet Lovers to Harry Potter to Rainbow Unicorns. Add-ons include a pull-string piñata, glow paint, decorate-your-own cupcakes, s’mores, alphabet-letter crafts and paint tattoos. $300-$350 for 10 kids; $15 per additional guest.
13525 N. Litchfield Road, Surprise
623-975-PLAY (7529) • uptownalleysurprise.com
One hour of bowling (shoes included), laser tag or $10 in game play for each guest. Includes two slices of pizza per child plus unlimited drinks. Upgraded package features additional game of laser tag and a $10 game card for each guest. Add-ons include a private party room, paper goods, balloon bouquet and more. Eight-guest minimum. $15.99-$24.99 per person.
Fun for grownups, too
American Paintball Coliseum
2915 E. Washington St., Phoenix
602-275-5285 • americanpaintballcoliseum.com/phoenix
Ages 10 and up. Paintball gun, mask, air and 200 initial paintballs for play across two synthetic-turf fields. Includes two slices of pizza, a soft drink and cupcake per guest. Airsoft and laser tag available. Two hours. $40 per player.
Bump and Roll
3111 W. Chandler Blvd., No. 2092, Chandler
626-788-2867 • bumpandroll.com
Ages 3 and up. Bump, roll and crash inside giant inflatable hamster balls. Up to four players can roll during each three-minute session. Bring your own food, drinks, decorations and music. Rent the entire facility for up to 20 guests in one-hour sessions for $240; additional hours at $200 each.
Dave & Buster’s
21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix • 480-538-8956
2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe • 480-281-8456
9460 W. Hanna Lane, Glendale • 623-759-7800
Choice of two or more family-style entrees or “Big Day” buffet. $10 to $20 Power Game card for each guest, unlimited soft drinks and french fries, plus minimum 300 tickets for the guest of honor. Access to the shared event space for two hours. Ten-person minimum; pricing starts at $17.99 per person.
9119 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale
602-427-4405 • octaneraceway.com
This attraction hosts all kinds of events, including birthday parties for both kids and adults, at its Brickyard Grill. Includes kart racing, mini bowling, $5-$10 game card, pizza, drinks, T-shirt for guest of honor, keychain for each guest. There’s 54-inch height requirement and eight-guest minimum. $39.99–$59.99 per person.
Stratum Laser Tag
1455 S. Stapley Drive, Mesa
480-545-5500 • stratumhq.com
Lightspeed or Glow Party themes both include two to five games of laser tag per player, party room with host, paper goods, arcade tokens for the birthday child, unlimited beverages, pizza and more. $199-$399 for up to 10 players.
1689 Santan Freeway, Gilbert • 480-240-1282
9500 E. Indian Bend Road, Salt River Reservation
480-291-6371 • topgolf.com
Kids 12 and older hit microchipped balls into huge targets equipped with sensors that award points based on accuracy, much like a gigantic dartboard. Birthday packages include unlimited golf playtime, dedicated bay host, catered meals from the kids menu, unlimited soda, lemonade or iced tea and lifetime playing cards. Two hours. $25 and up per person; 12-person minimum.
Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics
13832 N. 32nd St., No. 162, Phoenix
3110 E. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix
602-992-5790 • arizonasunrays.com
Ages 2-17. Themed gymnastics or dance birthday parties. Choices include Ninja, Barbie, Super Hero, Hello Kitty and Angry Birds. Staff-led gym time includes trampolines, TumblTrak, dancing, two foam pits, games, rope swing, foam dodgeball, obstacle courses. Balloons, T-shirt for guest of honor; souvenir cup, Sunrays coupons for guests. Add-ons include bounce house, invitations, pizza, cake, juice. Ninety minutes to 2½ hours; $264 and up.
Be… an Artist
4025 E. Chandler Blvd. No. 6-7, Phoenix
480-247-6689 • beanartistaz.com
Ages 2 and up. Customizable art parties with fun themes, such as painting, cooking, scuplting clay, making chocolate and making a bug condo making (for crickets that are released at the end of the party). Or choose your own theme, such as Pokémon Go, and staff will create a party package for you. Prices include private use of entire facility and such activities as games and parades. Each party ends with a karaoke song of your child’s choice. Bring your own food and cake or have it catered by a partner restaurant. $250 for two hours of art time with up to eight kids.
4550 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix
602-954-5200 • bricksstudio.com
All ages. Celebrate with dancing and games during music- and movement-themed parties, including ballet, hip-hop, princess, rock star, sports, karate and yoga. Packages include party planner, instructors, dessert (cupcakes, cookies or cake), drinks, crafts, decorations, games. Ninety minutes. $350 for up to 14 guests; $10 for each additional guest.
5 Valley locations • buildabear.com
Ages 3 and older. Now that Pokémon Go is all the rage, Build-A-Bear is offering Pokémon characters to stuff and dress in addition to its bears, dogs, cats, horses, dinosaurs and Paw Patrol and My Little Pony characters. Party leader helps select animals that guests make and take home (for five or more guests). Includes party hats, gift for guest of honor and a special ceremony. $18-$45 per person.
Engineering for Kids
2451 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
480-779-8184 • engineeringforkids.com
Ages 4 and older. Use of facility plus a themed, one- to two-hour engineering activity. Pick from themes including MineCraft gaming, rocket blast-off party and sumo-bot battle. Packages include two hosts, printable party invitations and a T-shirt for birthday child. Two to three hours. $250-$350 for up to 12 guests, depending on chosen activity.
Let’s Grow Studio
4100 S. Lindsay Road, No. 101, Gilbert
480-699-1004 • letsgrowstudio.com
All ages. Choose from themed party packages including Zumba Glow with pop music and glow jewelry, Sports Party with make-your-own team jerseys, and Downward Doll Yoga with your child’s favorite stuffed toy. Or, customize your own party and create something brand new. All parties include a fitness class, drinks and food; parents can bring their own cake. $200 for two hours of party time with up to 10 kids.
Experience-based fun and learning
Arizona Humane Society
1521 W. Dobbins Road, Phoenix
602-997-7585 • azhumane.org
Animal lovers ages 5-12 will enjoy a birthday spent with animal friends. Private party room plus decorations, invitations, party host, shelter tour and animal-themed crafts and activities. $225 for two and a half hours for up to 20 guests. Additional guests for $10 each, up to a 25-person maximum.
Arizona Science Center
600 E. Washington St., Phoenix
602-716-2000 ext 217 • azscience.org
The basic Scientist party includes admission to the center, party host, decorated party room, hands-on science activity, refreshments and pizza, printable invitations and paper goods. Explorer and Create parties come with all basic party features plus access to exhibits or a building experiment. All ages, but some age restrictions apply for Create parties. Forty-five to 90 minutes. $435-$600.
Challenger Space Center Arizona
21170 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria
623-322-2007 • azchallenger.org
Party Like an Astronaut or Fly to Outer Space with two party theme options. Both packages include admission to the center, an age-appropriate science activity, a private room and party host, goody bags for each child, three large one-topping pizzas, drinks, paper goods and more. All ages. Add-ons include a liquid-nitrogen show, extra food and additional goody bags. Maximum 32 guests. Fly to Outer Space is for ages 11 and older only. Two hours. $375-$450.
Halle Heart Children’s Museum
2929 S. 48th St., Tempe
602-414-2800 • halleheartchildrensmuseum.org
Kids of all ages can learn how the heart works and how to keep it healthy with heart-centric exhibits and activities. Heart-healthy snacks, decorations and party favors included. Bring your own cake and refreshments. Starting at $150 for up to 10 kids; includes two adults per child.
26540 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-585-0239 • macdonaldsranch.com
Up to 12 years. Party options include a horse-pulled hayride, train ride or trail ride through the desert. Kids get to play such games as a bean-bag toss, horseshoes, steer-head rope and more; there also is a petting zoo and bonfire. Bring your own food, cake and decorations, or cook your own food on a charcoal grill. $16-$48 per adult and $10-$45 per child with a $300-$450 minimum.
Stuffington Bear Factory
1717 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix
602-225-9513 • stuffingtonbear.com
All ages. Guided factory tour, bear-making activity and birth certificate, private party room. Add-ons include pizza, cake, drinks, paper goods. Two hours. $150 for six guests; $20 per additional guest.
Birthdays on a budget
Enchanted Island Amusement Park
1202 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix
602-254-1200 • enchantedisland.com
All ages. Unlimited rides and attractions, including the Dragon Wagon, CP Huntington Train, Kiddie Cars and Parachute Tower. Basic party package includes dedicated host, party favors, ice cream and a T-shirt for guest of honor. Two hours; $129.99 for two adults and seven kids. Do-it-yourself and private packages also available.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale
480-312-2312 • therailroadpark.com
Ages 3-8. The party inside a real train car includes mini-train and carousel rides, two party hosts, T-shirt for the birthday child, group photo, balloons, a paper engineer hat for each guest, train postcard, ice cream, punch, paper products. Ninety minutes. $80 plus $6 per person; 20-guest maximum.
Mother Nature’s Farm
1663 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert
480-892-5874 • mothernaturesfarm.com
All ages. Pet and feed farm animals, jump around in a bounce house, take a hayride and find your way through the Alexander Adventure Maze. Bring your own cake, food and decorations. If your child’s birthday is in October, all kids get a free pumpkin to decorate and take home. Two tables for two hours; $10 per person with a 10-guest minimum. Rent a private birthday party area with access to the bouncy house for $100 more.
3440 S. Hawes Road, Mesa
602-432-6865 • superstitionfarm.com
All ages. Celebrate your child’s birthday and learn all about how milk gets to your table with a fun farm party and dairy tour. Also features an animal expo, hayride, a petting zoo, private party space and hosted milk bar with 13 flavors. Bring your own food, decorations and supplies. Add-ons include extended hayride and tour, Udder Delights ice cream, barbecue catering and more. $120 and up.
Find RAK’s full online directory of birthday-party resources at raisingarizonakids.com/birthday-parties