Best Places for a Kid’s Birthday Party in Casper – Our Top Five
The other day, I kinda overheard a cell phone conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store. This woman had apparently recently moved to Casper from what I can only assume was a larger city – and was going on and on to whoever she was talking to back “home” about how difficult it was to plan an entertaining birthday party for her kid here, since we are missing some of the typical Chuck E. Cheese, arcade, amusement park-type places that one might find around a Denver, Fort Collins, etc.
I didn’t interrupt her call to tell her she was just minutes away from a lot of great places – but for a second, she did make me realize that whether you’re moving in to Casper from elsewhere, or just getting your feet wet as a new parent (both of which I’ve done over the past decade or so) – there’s really not a great go-to “list” out there to show off some of the good stuff we have to offer here for kids celebrating the big day. So, I set out to change that, and shine a little light on some good birthday finds for the kids around town.
Full disclosure: Realizing that the “Dad” definition of a great kid’s party might differ a bit from the actual “kid that has the party” – I enlisted the help of an assistant to make this list, who also happens to be the kid I’ve thrown birthday parties for here over the past 9 years – my daughter. On with the list!
#5: Tie – Wagon Wheel Roller Rink
Can’t go wrong with an old-school skate party – people have been having them for generations, and they still are popular with young and old. The Wagon Wheel and the Casper Ice Arena came in tied on this list, because both fell under the “skate” category, and it kinda depends on your preference – wheels or blades. The Wagon Wheel in Mills has been a long-term Casper fixture, and has parties pretty much down to a science. Also great for parents on the go – they can take care of as much or as little of the party planning as you’d like ‘em to. They work with all kinds of budgets, from smaller parties with as little as 10 guests – or big private parties where you get the run of the place. Cool features like inflatables, DJ, light show and more – and they have lots of the stuff like balloons, party favors, goodie bags on-site so you don’t have to go hunting around town. (Plus, they clean up the mess when the kids are done – which is a definite plus after a tornado of kids blow through.)
#5: TIE – CASPER ICE ARENA
The Casper Ice Arena is great as well – whether you’re dealing with a large party (even up to 200 or more) or a small group. They’ve got hourly rates where you can book the whole place for a private party and some non-crowded ice time – or smaller party packages, where for under $10 a head, you can have a party for ten that includes food, drink, skating, table settings and more. They have a great staff, and make it easy to add extra people to the party affordably – and even some cool extras like exclusive use of their skybox.
#4: Movie Palaces
The guys that run all the Movie Palaces theaters in Casper have done a great job modernizing all the older theaters, and have even built some state-of-the-art new ones recently. What a lot of people don’t realize is that they do great birthday parties. I’m not talking about just taking a group of kids to see a movie – they do all-inclusive parties that can include a room for an hour to stage all the cake, ice cream and gifts – plus reserved seats in the movie for all your guests, a tour of the projection box to show the kids what goes on behind the scenes, and the birthday kid even gets to do the honors and start the movie. Pretty cool. And, they even do XBox 360 gaming at some locations, should you happen to have some older kids or hard-core gamers in the birthday group.
#3: OLD TOWN
With a bad economy and some ownership changes at the Parkway Plaza, it looked like Old Town, one of Casper’s great birthday party destinations was going to go by the wayside – we heard there were plans to change the building into something totally different. Now that the original owners (and the people who originally built the Old Town addition) are back in control, things are back on track and the parties continue. Old Town is a fun place to take the kids, with video games and skill games where they can win tickets and exchange ‘em for prizes – and a cool mini-golf course outside, designed to look like an old town (get it?) – inspired by local Wyoming history. There’s a climbing wall, and several party rooms where you can handle the cake and gifts – plus an on-site snack bar and restaurant with some subs, pizza, etc.
Disclaimer: Should be mentioned that Old Town is seasonal, so if your kid’s birthday happens to fall in the winter months – you’re out of luck. Otherwise, it’s a fun place with lots of options in one place to keep your party guests entertained.
#2: Pottery By You
A diamond in the birthday party rough – the crew at Pottery By You does amazing birthday parties. For the uninitiated, they do ceramic painting – where you take their pre-fabricated items like plates, mugs, picture frames, and tons more - and make them your own with all their paints and finishes. It’s probably best for small groups – they can do groups of 6-12 during their normal hours, and even make arrangements to do larger groups before or after they open to the public. You can tell after spending a few minutes that working with kids is a labor of love for owner Michelle Heaphy – she and her staff do a great job coaching and helping kids get the most out of the experience, but staying out of the way and being patient enough to encourage your kid’s inner artist. They can plan a group project, and even handle your cake and beverages – or you can bring in your own. The coolest thing about their parties is that everyone gets a lasting memory of the day, rather than the usual goodie bag approach – the Pottery By You crew puts all your guests’ creations in the kiln and fires them, and you’re able to pick them up a few days later and distribute them. It can get a little pricey depending on what you decide to have the kids paint, but they have options for all budgets and ages.
#1: CASPER FAMILY AQUATIC CENTER
The mecca of birthday fun. Hard to beat an indoor water park like the Casper Family Aquatic Center with the Wyoming weather – multiple pools, lazy river and splash features, speed slides, and more. Depending on the budget, you’ve got lots of options here. You can rent their party rooms during public hours for a fairly low rate, which come with a table covering and a balloon bouquet – then you pay per head for each guest’s admission to the pool, depending on their age. Or, if you have a little more to spend and a big guest list – you can go for the queen mother of birthdays and rent the whole place for a three-hour stretch, turn the kids loose, and throw a private party. Lifeguard supervision is included in either case, plus locker/shower facilities.
- Sunrise Lanes & El Marko: Kids love a good bowling party, and there are several options in town. Both places make for a fun party, but slight edge goes to Sunrise here. Mainly because a) their “Bowlopolis” parties are bringing in new elements like music, light show, and cartoons to give a little bit of a new twist on a classic game, and b) they are scheduled to become Casper’s first smoke-free bowling alley on May 1, 2011 – which certainly makes it a little more kid-friendly.
- The Science Zone: Now in their new location underneath Mossholder’s Furniture downtown, they host birthday parties every Saturday – where kids can explore and do their own experiments, with the help of a resident “mad scientist”.
- Kids Works: Indoor activities and party rooms where kids can have “fitness fun” in their play system. They handle lots of the details, even down to invitations, food, and decorations – and assign a hostess to your party.
- The Peak Rock Climbing Gym: Most people think about fitness when they consider The Peak, but they actually rent out the place and host climbing parties, along with all the requisite gear you’ll need for your guests to have fun.
- The Great Outdoors: Casper and the surrounding areas are home to some of the best parks around. Sometimes, I wonder if people who were born & raised here truly appreciate how much great space is available here and how well most of these parks are maintained – it’s certainly not like this in most cities. If you’re lucky enough to have a birthday event that’s not in the frozen tundra months – you can’t go wrong with hosting it outside in a beautiful park with plenty of room to roam. Your budget will thank you, and although there’s plenty of first-come first-served free space – there’s even several shelters and spots you can reserve for exclusive use. Crossroads Adventure Park is an especially kid-friendly spot, one of the newer and better-equipped parks in terms of playground gear and activities.
Who did we miss? Post a comment below and let us know.