For what they charge at these places, I would've thought that the employees would have led the party a bit more. They did have the kids watch a video with the "rules" of the joint prior to entering the first room.
Seriously?! As if 4 year olds are capable watching and understanding the rules, and oh yeah, abiding by them!
They did move us from one room to the other after a half hour or so in the first room. But, once they lined the kids up to enter the cake room, we were pretty much on our own. The kid did cut the cake and help pass it out, but didn't guide us through the process. Those people at Gymboree really have it down pat. The entire party is choreographed and timed perfectly. They told us when it was time for cake, they started the birthday song, cut and handed out the cake, and had a goodie bag, plate, and juice set up at every place setting. Nicky and his friends knew exactly what to do. Bounce house version - random blobs of bags of chips, cookies and snacks haphazardly thrown down the middle of the table. The parents had to then open the juice and hand them out. It was way too chaotic for me.
The other annoying part was that the parents themselves were way unprepared. They showed up late (party invite said it started at 12:45 - they showed up 3 minutes before 1pm), and it was obvious that they had just hit up the Wal-mart across the street to purchase the snacks. I realize I'm not normal, and I like to do things way in advance and have things just so, but wouldn't most people have at least bought the stuff for the party a few days prior and been on time to their own kid's party?
Of course, the most annoying part was that the party took place during nap time. I don't care if other people don't enforce nap time, but in our house, naps are alive and well! Not only do Momma and Daddy need that time in order to get things done (nap, laundry, nap, cleaning...), but Nicky is a real bear if he misses it. Our only saving grace was that last night was "Parent's Night Out" at his preschool, so if he was hyper and out of control, at least it was in that environment!
All that said...Nicky had a GREAT time! He ran, jumped, flopped, crawled, hopped, slid, and acted like a wild man. Daddy even got into the action a bit - although quickly learned he was a little old for some of the craziness, as evidenced by his sore back later in the day! Here are some pictures of the hot mess...
Overall, I think the pros outweighed the cons as far as the outcome of the party goes. I could definitely see us having one of Nicky's birthday parties there one year - I'll just be sure to take over the organizing part from the poor, blissfully unaware teenagers that run the joint!