29 January 2019
Located within the City of Dreams, a luxury resort and casino in Manila, DreamPlay is the only DreamWorks-themed interactive play centre anywhere in the world. Boasting of 12 attractions that were inspired by their animated movies, it provides hours of fun-filled activities for kids and kids-at-heart.
Right at the DreamPlay entrance, we were greeted by well-known animated character statues such as Shrek, Po from Kung Fu Panda and Marty the lion from Madagascar. Day pass was P680 ($20AUD) per person. Maddy was just over the height limit for free entrance.
As soon as we entered, I was amazed by the level of detail that went into the interior design. Everything was colourful and vibrant. Our first stop was at Shrek’s Swamp House. There were bridges, rope climbs and tunnels, a kid could definitely get lost in there! I followed Maddy around to guide her through the obstacles. Wifey joined her in the foam pit, jumping around without a care in the world.
In the Madagascar attraction, Maddy and I got to build our own boat. I drew an “M” on the sail while she coloured some parts of it. Our boat was ready to be sailed. With a gentle drop of the boat on the water’s surface, it was instantly dragged by the current. We ran ahead of it, waited at the second bend of the manmade river to see it closely. Other kids were sailing their boats too but ours was the first at the finish line.
At the circus playground, older kids were already running amok chasing each other and throwing balls in the air. I became Maddy’s bodyguard, making sure she was not accidentally harmed in any way. We crawled our way up the obstacles and back down. She was having a great time!
While I took care of Oli, Wifey and Maddy made their way up to reach the Madagascar plane stranded on top of a tree. Within the cockpit, Maddy was able to play with the controls.
Next section was my favourite in terms of design. The Kung Fu Panda themed area stood out from the rest. Chinese lanterns hung across the path lighting it a warm red. Vermillion torii gates and temples added to drama. Pink everlasting cherry blossoms was the finishing touch.
We entered the Furious 5 Academy Hall where characters like Po and Tigress projected on a big screen, instructed us the way of the kung fu. Each person had a spot on the floor to stand on. If you follow the step correctly, you were given full points. I came second after another parent who was taking it way seriously (unlike me). Maddy used the space to dance instead, coming last.
I briefly entered the DreamStudio, a place where you could create your own animated film from scratch. Computer stations were virtually empty at this point. I sat down in front of a station, clicked a few buttons on screen to see what it did. I managed to animate a Troll character next to a burning camp fire.
There were other attractions on offer that we didn’t bother doing due to time and Maddy’s interest such as the DreamTheatre where they showed DreamWorks’ impressive collection of films and shows. Bookings had to be made for the cooking tutorial with Gingy, the gingerbread man from Shrek. Other attractions were specifically tailored to older children. Maddy was a little too young and too small for it. From age 5 and up, this place would be an amazing experience. Definitely recommended.
Hungry from our DreamPlay session, there was one request I had for my brother-in-law and that was to eat at a place that served isaw (chicken intestine on a stick). These type of street food could be found anywhere in the streets but the cleanliness of it would be questionable. He took us to Islas Pinas instead.
The food hall was huge! What was surprising was the interior, themed as well-known attractions, icons and locations in the Philippines. A vinta which is a traditional boat from Mindanao Island was fashioned into a eating and sitting area. There was a faux sari-sari store (mini convenience store) filled with real Filipino products for show. A fully scaled jeepney was parked infront of it, a ride my jeep moment in real life! The food stalls were built within a Spanish style exterior. It lined the cobblestone road that led to a Church ruin / eating tables. A bahay kubo (nipa hunt) stood with charm, another area for customers to sit and experience Filipino food in style. Fake rice terraces and Chocolate Hills became areas for play.
Aside from us, there were only a few handfuls of customers eating at the food hall. We ordered an array of dishes. Humba (sweet pork stew), a favourite of mine was exactly how I remembered it tasting. It was sweet and salty and the pork hock meat was falling off the bone. The bopis, made from offals was tangy and full of flavour, perfectly paired with rice. The okoy (shrimp fritters) was a little too crunchy for my liking. Wifey ordered a serving of Arroz Caldo, a Filipino chicken congee topped with crispy fried garlic and boiled eggs. Fresh from the grilled station was the isaw, still glistening in oil. It was the dish I was most looking forward to. I had been craving the delicacy ever since we had arrived in Manila and it was finally in front of me. I took a stick, plunged the end of it in the special vinegar mix and put it straight in my mouth. Delicious! Curiosity took over Maddy and without hesitation, grabbed a stick and bit into the grilled chicken intestine. “Barbecue!” she said, happily munching on isaw.
I had eaten at plenty of food courts before and this was one of the best in terms of interior and ambience. It not only showcased Filipino food but the culture as well. A little pricey compared to other restaurants and food courts nearby but this food hall seemed to target balikbayans (returning Filipinos) and foreigners since its nearby location to hotels and the international airport.