Review: Whimsical Woods
Location:3101 Burritt Dr SE Huntsville, AL 35801
$10.00 per adult
$9.00 per seniors (60+) & military
$8.00 children (3 – 18 years)
Children two and under and Burritt Museum members are FREE
I admit, it is a hard thing to get me on Monte Sano Mountain and drag me away from the hiking trails. I just want to go and climb and hike and explore. So, when I had kids, I found myself being forced over to the park on occasion, and now, to Burritt Museum.
Is this terrible of me? I’m a Huntsville native and we’ve never once patronized the museum/farm animals in the Spring. Shame.On.Me. Shame on me. My kids could not believe the view of the city up there. I’m too busy burying myself in trees hoping for water or an occasional snake.
Burritt On the Mountain is currently hosting Whimsical Woods, a game dedicated to encouraging children’s sense of discovery, imagination, and creativity. The game incorporates the existing historical structures, site farm animals, and ‘whimsical’ woods. Through this journey, Felicity the Fairy and Will the Woodsman are on the lookout for heroes to protect the forest and animals (my favorite parts of the adventure).
The story begins when your enter at their “giant” tree (Be preapred, my children were absolutely sidelined by Peter Rabbit’s cornhole game on the way in and out; yours will be too). Beyond the tree, you enter Alice in Wonderland’s house outfitted with magical mirrors. Alice will help your children spin the game wheel to determine where their journey begins.
Now, I want to digress a moment. We went on the second day of the Grand Opening, and I am sure there is still some tightening to do. I wasn’t super clear on the instructions or ‘how to’ for the game. I think the spinning wheel is a great way to assign children to different starting places so that everyone is not piled up at one location. There are 20 featured story spots. You are assigned a starting point when you spin the wheel and are supposed to be guided through the first 6 spots and then are free to roam at will. We failed at following directions because we entered the “game” and just wanted to explore, but this didn’t deter our adventure one bit.
Each site includes a story that can be read with your children, a “learning” assignment (example: at the King Arthur site children are encouraged to think about strength as they attempt to pull the sword from the stone), and jewels to adorn the crowns they will be given when you enter the museum. My children were interested briefly, but really wanted to be free to explore the special sites, historical buildings, animals, and play areas. Rather than force them to focus on the educational game, we just wondered around for a while. And, yes, we easily killed more than two hours.
The Whimsical Woods game is absolutely appropriate for any age. If nothing else, even tinies will enjoy the farm animals. Baby goats are on the way this Spring, and the pigs were an unexpected surprise. There are a few different play areas, one of which is appropriate for toddlers. Now, I am not that far removed from the toddler experience, and the “small kid” play area and animals combined may only give you an hour to an hour and a half, but add in a picnic and you’ve killed time between naps.
For older children (4 and up) there really is enough to explore to keep busy a while, and, if you are invested in the stories and the game, you may find you don’t have time for all of the story sites in a day’s visit. Unless you want to spend more than 4 hours… and if you have kids and can stay anywhere more than 4 hours, I applaud you.
The Swiss Family Robinson site and Treasure Island were favorites for my kids. The two play areas were large enough to keep them entertained for some time. I always enjoy the historical buldings and like to imagine I’m a member of the Ingalls family. Adam liked the animals, although I am not sure he’d admit it. We had so much fun we bought a family membershp and will have PLENTY of time to explore the sites again and again over the Spring and Summer.
I recommend everyone at least check this out. I feel confident that you’ll want to frequent it enough this year to take advantage of the cooler air atop the mountain and give the kids an educational and fun place to play. There are plenty of steps and stoops for mom and dad to sit and catch a moment in the shade while the kids roam and explore.
Don’t forget your hero badge in the treasure chest at Treasure Island! Even if you don’t put much emphasis on playing the game requirements, you can still have a blast – the trip is absolutely what you make it.
The Whimsical Woods is also hosting parties and field trips, which I think is super. If my kids had Summer birthdays, this location would absolutely be on my list of possible party spots!
So be sure to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, plenty of water, snacks, and a picnic lunch and have a blast! This event is running through September 2. Be sure to check the site for hours of operation and cost (Our family of four cost would have been $36. We sprang for the annual family membership at $75. Well worth it. We’ll be back).
Christa Landingham and her husband are Madison County natives and life-long residents. They have boy/girl twins and two crazy puppers. She loves all things teaching, organizing, and supporting local small businesses. In her “free-time” she loves to garden, travel with her family, volunteer, and comb local thrift stores. Pearl Jam is her jam.
Going to have to check this out!
My name is Tyler Hamlin and I work as a Historic Interpreter at the Burritt Museum. I am there every Saturday in the Historic Park and every Sunday in the Burritt Mansion. Although this weekend I will not be there. The Whimsical Woods has seemed to be a HUGE hit for us. On a typical Saturday (before whimsical woods) we would get maybe 3 or 4 groups. Now we have lots of people coming up regularly. The games are fun for the kids and if you come up you just may find that you can learn a little something while you’re there. We have historic interpreters on duty every day that the park is open. I hope lots more people bring their kids up to play and to see the unique side of Huntsville’s history that we have to offer. One more note, in the historic park we have the oldest log structure still standing in the sate of Alabama. It was built in 1810 and has some very interesting history that I would like to encourage you to come learn about.
we went to the whimsical woods last saturday. i have two boys, ages six and two. the six year old understood the ‘rules’ better, but both boys had a blast exploring each station.
So glad you guys went and had fun!