RC's Playhouse: Response to a Review
Hi there! So, my name is Deborah and I am one of the three owners here at RC’s Playhouse. We had a young lady write a review on RC’s Playhouse on April 13th, 2018. You can find her review here:
First, I would like to thank her so much for her review! It really does help when people give such thorough reviews for us! It is so much appreciated! In addition, I would like to address each of her cons as well as update a few things that have changed since her review 😉 I originally tried to post this review on her blog as a comment but it was too long, so I decided to make my own blog and add it here! 😊
1) Size: The review mentions that the size is a bit small in comparison to other places she has been to, like Mt. Playmore. However, we actually wanted to have a smaller size so that it was a more intimate environment. She mentions in the pros that she was able to relax and just enjoy her time there. This is mainly due to the fact that the size of the building is smaller, which allows you to be able to sit down in one location and see your children wherever they may be! We spent months designing the layout so that the larger structures were in the back so it was easier to see everything and everyone. 😊This allows you to relax while having your little ones run around and get out all their energy! We are hoping in the future to expand more into the backyard, with a patio, BBQ grill, games and maybe even a bounce house! However, these are at least a few years away due to the costs. But they are on our radar!
2) Seating: The review mentions that there isn’t really any seating. However, we were still getting set up when she came to visit us, as we had not even had our grand opening yet! That was our first week open and it was just our soft opening. At that time, we only had two small tables and a few chairs on the floor along with our two couches. We now have four (4) small tables that each seat three (3) people! We also have our two couches and about 6-7 additional chairs on the floor at all times. We do have a total of 30 of the nice black banquet chairs available in total and we can always put a few more on the floor if needed. Yes, we do try to limit the chairs on the floor when they aren’t needed so that it isn’t too crowded, but we would hope to never have anyone sit on the floor! 😉
3) Price: The review mentions that the daily and annual costs are quite shocking. I completely understand that this cost can seem fairly high when you first look at it, however, in reality, it is less than similar places like Mt Playmore and Catch Air. So, I would love to break it all down for you, so that you can see why we chose the pricing we did.
a. The town of Bastrop has just over 8,200 people in it, and the town of Smithville has almost 4,000. Now, Bastrop County does have nearly 82,000 people living in it, but that is nothing compared to Austin's 2016 population of nearly 1 million or if you look at the entire 5-county metropolitan area there is an estimated population of over 2 million. Therefore, we are working with a very limited population in this area. In order to stay in business, we have to charge just a little bit more than some people will like. I did everything possible to get our pricing to the absolute lowest I could for us to be able to stay in business. If we went any lower then we would not be sustainable and would have to close down our doors. 0_0 No one wants that now! 😉
b. Now, it should be noted that our prices are still cheaper than Austin prices! Not to mention, we are way closer than Austin, since we are right down the road…well, for a lot of y’all! 😉 And you save time and money by not driving into Austin (or New Braunfels or Round Rock) but coming to RC’s instead. However, the review mentioned several different places as ‘similar facilities’. I would like to say that although they are somewhat similar, they are not considered direct competition. For example, the Dinosaur Park and the Capital of Texas Zoo are both fun to go to for sure, but they are both outside and so are controlled by the weather. And the Thinkery and Children’s Museum…fun for a few times but not something you could do daily with older children. Now, Catch Air and Mt Playmore would both be considered direct competition, if they were in the same city, but because they are located in Austin, they are not direct competition, but they are similar facilities in that they are both indoor playgrounds with similar attractions. So, let us look at each of these six facilities pros and cons! But first, the reviewer has 3 children; one is about 18 months and the other two are between 3-6 I believe. So for the narrative of our story, we are going with how much it would cost her similarly at these places! 😊
i. The Dino Park is only open Fri-Sun from 10-4! That’s not very often. They charge $8 for adults and $9 for children, so one visit would cost her with her three children $35. Yes, they do annual passes, and it is only $25 per person. But the Dino park is not something you would want to go to every weekend, especially not if it’s 100+ degrees outside or raining! So, the park knows that if they charge you $25 a person per year that they will probably make more overall because most people will not go 3 times in a year unless they have a pass. And they also know that more than likely you will only visit 2-5 times in any given year, even with an annual pass. You make your money’s worth by going 3 times in a year. I myself have yet to go to the dino park, but from all the pictures it looks amazing! However, even if I lived there, I probably would not plan on going more than once. Or I would just send my husband and daughter to go as I don’t want to be outside in the heat that much haha! So, you can see that pricing on a daily basis is similar, they just offer really cheap annual pricing based on how often they think a person with a pass will come and see them. That is their break-even pricing.
ii. The Capital of TX Zoo is a non-profit organization, meaning they cannot actually make a profit beyond what is needed to sustain the park and pay the workers. They thrive off a lot of volunteers and donations. They also charge a higher price for a single visit, $8.5 for 2-12 and $11 for 13+. So, if the reviewer went one time it would cost $28 ($11+8.5+8.5), as her youngest is under 2. Yes, again, if you do the annual pass it’s only $99 for the whole family. But, how often will you and the kids want to go to the zoo? I bought an annual pass last year for my daughter and I to the zoo. We went probably 8-10 times in the last year, that’s it. But I wouldn’t take her last summer because it was crazy hot! And I couldn’t take her in the winter because it was way too cold. And of course, no adult likes to walk around the zoo with a child (or 3 in your case) in the pouring rain! So, again, they did their price breaking point and knew that they would make more money if they sold annual passes at that price vs not selling them at all or selling them higher. If I hadn’t bought the annual pass I never would have gone back to the zoo past my first visit. And I personally will not be getting another pass until probably fall...if at all. Yes, the $99 is totally worth it for an annual pass, as I love the zoo, when the weather outside is nice. Unfortunately for me, my zoo is nearly an hour from my home. So that comes into play as well...drive time.
iii. What about the Thinkery? Well, for starters it is $12 per person aged 2 and older! That’s crazy! Yes, that’s the daily rate. However, if I wanted an annual membership it would cost just $99 for 2 parents and 2 children, or $150 for 2 parents and 4 children. Which isn’t too bad, if I wanted to visit that place a lot and I lived in Austin. Now, I have yet to visit this place. However, from everything I’ve seen it appears to be for much younger children, like toddlers and children maybe 6 and under. It looks really nice, but from the reviews also tends to get really crowded. As does RC’s Playhouse on occasion. But that means that if it is too crowded and I didn’t want to stick around I would have to drive all the way home to Bastrop. Now, if RC’s was too busy I could just go home and then come back a few hours later if I wanted without wasting too much gas or time. Now, if you did get a pass and you wanted to drive into Austin once every few weeks to take your littles to this really fun place, because it is cheaper, then that is great! I have wanted to take my daughter here but after seeing the prices there is no way I would spend $24 for a single day with just us two for a few hours (when it would only cost me $9 to play at RC’s Playhouse and save the gas money and the time it takes to get there).
iv. McKenna Children’s Museum: very similar review as above in that it is a drive…and this one is in New Braunfels!! Wow! That’s a haul! It is $150 for a family of 2 adults and 3 children. How often are you going to want to drive all the way to New Braunfels to go play here? Is it really worth the annual membership? It does look nice and fun, but that is a drive.
c. Ok, now onto two places that actually are similar to RC’s Playhouse: Mt Playmore and Catch Air. These are both large indoor playgrounds in Austin and Round Rock with similar setup in that they are soft play playgrounds.
i. Mt. Playmore is the place I hear a lot about. Everyone seems to go to this place. So, let’s review this one first. First off, it’s pretty huge! Just the playground itself is over 3k square feet, according to the website. RC’s Playhouse is 2562 sq ft for the entire building, which I am quite happy with! Also, Mt Playmore is open more often than RC’s (we plan to be open more often for working moms/parents once we have the ability). However, this place does not do annual memberships because they know they lose so much more money that way. They make their money by having daily walk-ins. They charge $5 for 2-3 yrs, $11 for 4-15 and $1.5 for 16+. So, that would be $25 for one visit for our reviewer and her three littles. It is $23 for one visit here at RC’s Playhouse (and you only have to drive a few minutes rather than like 45 minutes! Time and money saved). They do however offer monthly memberships. They are currently running a special where you get to buy the ‘membership initiation fee’ for $14.95 and then you can get a monthly membership for a recurring cost of $14.95 for the first child plus $9.95 for each additional child. However, the small print says that this “offer expires 60 days from purchase”. So, let’s say you have you have two children over the age of 2 and one under 2. Cost would be $14.95 + 9.95 for the first two months, and then $49 a month thereafter. So, if you kept the monthly membership for a full year it would be $515! Here at RC’s we only charge $349 for a family with 3+ children! But yes, they do have a whole lot more to offer. I mean, I want to go there and check them out at least once so I can take my daughter through that giant play structure! 😉 The pictures online look so cool!
ii. The second place is called Catch Air and there is one in both Austin and Round Rock. This place is similar to Mt. Playmore in that it is huge with lots of things to do! It is for all ages and really interactive. However, it is a drive to get there and it is expensive for each visit. You have to pay for babies even! Ages 0-2 are $7 during the week and $10 on the weekend, and 3-16 are $11 during the week and $14 on the weekend! You can only have two parents come in free and then the rest are $5. They do not do monthly nor annual memberships. Oh, and if you want a private party here you can rent out the entire building during the hours they are not normally open (like 6am?!?) for $700-1000! And you still only get 40 minutes in the party room. But, normal daily parties aren’t too bad in pricing except they charge an extra $100 per party if on the weekends.
d. It should be noted that all places I’ve reviewed do birthday parties. Some are similar and others not so much. I am going to attach a picture below that shows the comparison in a spreadsheet of the pros and cons of each one of these facilities, as well as the pricing for daily, monthly, and annual pricing as well as party pricing.
Now, being a stay-at-home mom to just one child, my 2-year-old daughter Kira, I know what it is like to go and buy annual memberships for things to do. I also know it is hard to justify having to pay so much for these memberships and then know that you really should be going more often since you paid for it. I have a children’s museum here in FL where I live which charges $75 for a year per family. It is fun and has toys and some educational stuff and it’s not terribly small. Plus, it’s inside! However, it is a 28-minute drive. And we both get bored after about an hour. We have been just 3-4 times in the almost 2 years we have lived here and it’s not worth it for me to get a season pass. But last year I did buy a season pass at the zoo. It was $90 just for my daughter and I, no one else. It was fun and we got our money’s worth, barely, but it is nearly an hour’s drive and it was too much work going often. Plus, it was outside. Now, there is this amazing small indoor playground here in FL where I live, and this place is called Pensacola Kids Place. This was part of the inspiration for RC’s Playhouse. Except we allow up to 12 yrs of age and they only allow up to 7 or 8. They charge $10 a daily walk-in visit and they have really high pricing for monthly and annual memberships. Just my daughter is $275 for a year. Then it’s $140 for a second child and $75 for each child thereafter. That is $490 for 3 children ages 1+ as he charges $6 daily for under 1 year of age. I just bought a season pass there, as I know it is cheaper than paying for daily rates twice a month, and my daughter needs the play time and I need the break! We wanted to make our place more affordable but also keep it so we do not go out of business. As it is right now, it is very low, and there is no way we could lower our prices at all and stay in business. In the future we may even have to raise prices, but we are hoping not to have to do that.
So, my final thoughts on this would be to say that sometimes you may have to purchase more than one annual pass. For example, perhaps you decide on 1-3 places you want to get a pass for. Now, maybe you only have a budget of $350 for the year for passes and you have 3 kids. So, let’s say you get a pass to the zoo, the Dino Park and the Thinkery with maybe a little left over where you either visit RC’s Playhouse or Mt Playmore once or twice that year. You will have to drive a lot for Thinkery and you won’t be able to go to the zoo or Dino Park anytime you wanted based on the weather and the day. But you will have some variety. However, if instead you chose to get an annual pass for $349 at RC’s Playhouse for all your children, you could come in and bring them anytime you wanted for an entire year! You could come for 15 minutes and not feel guilty about leaving, because you have a season pass. You could send your husband with the kids here so you can have some down time and then you won’t feel guilty if he only stays for like 30-45 minutes. Or you can come here 6 days a week for 3 hours a day and let them run themselves into exhaustion during the summer because it’s too hot to go outside and you want to relax on the couch chatting with other moms or reading a book while the kids play…all while being just 5 minutes from your home. So, in all honesty, it’s a darn good deal! You would pay nearly that much money per person if you did just one day at a place like Disney World (yes, I know, huge difference, but still). While here it is for an entire family for an entire year! That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! 😉 hehe #rcsplayhouse