Invading the AKA: the exclusive children’s enclave
Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA) is billed as the coolest children’s club in the Caribbean, and while my childhood years are well behind me, in the right circumstance, the kid-at-heart in me can definitely rise to the surface, and did just that recently when I got the opportunity to check out this exclusive enclave for children ages three to 12. And of course, two of my munchkins – my niece, Deja Taylor, 10; and my nephew, Justin Smith, 6 – accompanied me on this latest adventure, in a walk-through of the AKA activations that’s really tailored for them to see what the hoopla is all about.
I quickly learnt that at AKA children get to choose their adventure within themed spaces that have been designed specifically for their imagination and enjoyment.
Adventure guides are there to help children with culinary lessons, interactive electronic art, theater, outdoor play and so much more…you can almost let your imagination run wild with ideas. And you will be amazed at what your children will learn and discover. It turned out to be an educational experience for me as well. Having grown up with the term “starfish”, I learnt that “fish” is not an appropriate term for this sea creature and that they are now officially known as “sea stars” – because, as an AKA guide informed us during a tour of the fish hospital, they aren’t fish. (Hmmm! You learn something new everyday.)
The look at what the children get up to entailed a tour of AKA’s facilities plus Dolphin Cay behind the scenes. (As we walked along, a friendly dolphin or two poked their head out of the water and they were just so cute that I almost wished I was doing an interaction). But alas, I just saw them as I was whisked past. And I didn’t even get a look at the charismatic sea lions as, during my tour, it was closed off for a private encounter.
Pool time or outdoor play was also on the agenda, and it was a delight to see my nephew pick up a hula hoop and actually know what to do with it, in this day and age of digital/electronic entertainment. (And then there’s the fact that when I introduced my now 14-year-old niece Waltoninque Gordon to a hula hoop a few years ago, she looked at me in confusion, not knowing what to do with it, and showing total disinterest.)
Justin and Deja even attempted a pick-up game of basketball with a few fellow children on the tour. When we headed back indoors, they, just as eager to get their hands on the electronics all the same as Justin, made a beeline for the game room at once, and well… Deja hit the computers.
For those computer-centric children, the computer room is a draw; with 13 iMac stations, they can surf the internet, play games and engage in creative projects – all supervised of course.
The AKA experience also includes culinary activity, a performance room, game room, the computer room, arts and crafts room and an evening program.
Kids get to don a chef’s hat and apron for this hands-on adventure that includes kneading, whisking, mixing, rolling, measuring and maybe even some airbrushing on chocolate techniques. They can create everything from molten chocolate cakes to popcorn pops to candy pizzas in a two-hour culinary experience. Older children cook up a recipe and get to savor their creation while the younger kids’ experience includes cupcake decorating.
The cupcake decorating was a piece of cake. Participants get to choose a cupcake flavor of their choice, they’re given a piping bag with icing and encouraged to have at it, with a variety of candy to decorate as they see fit.
But for the ultimate experience, they can participate in a three-hour culinary adventure in which they can create masterpieces like an exotic candy ocean, engage in pretzel twisting or pizza painting. Add some culinary tips and napkin folding to the fun.
In the performance room, those kids who have “stars” in their eyes and aspirations of a life in front of the cameras or possibly on stage have the opportunity to show off their singing, acting, playing and other talents as they can take to the stage in real costumes and makeup to perform their own skit, movie, photo shoot or live concert. Three fun cams which are virtual reality systems provide hours of gear-free virtual gaming enjoyment with no green screen background required. There’s a GroundFX for interactive gaming of basketball, hockey, beach stomp and soccer. And a Lightspace Play, an entertainment system that combines interactive technologies to produce a recreational experience for children (and adults) of all ages.
The game room is a dream for those into gaming as so many of today’s children are, and features all the games your children are into.
For those who are more handsy, the arts and crafts room is the perfect place. They can engage in traditional crafts to interactive solutions and create their own treasure, beach or undersea map, color in art, download photos and send virtual postcards.
Madonna said girls just wanna have fun – well, at AKA it’s all about the fun for the children, so much so that even though adults don’t normally partake in the activities, I was able to let my inner child out for just that one afternoon. Now, if I could officially meet the dolphins and sea lions, and actually have the experience, life would be complete.
There are some basic rules that parents should be aware of if they want their child to take advantage of the adventures – any child wanting to participate in AKA activities must be between age three and 12, and a passport is required for identification. Children must also be toilet trained and diaper/pull-up free. Adults have to check their children in and out of the facility. The recent tour kicked off summer which officially gets underway on Saturday, June 21 and Atlantis’ summer camp activities.
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