Zibo is a bustling city with several nice malls, and we were lucky enough to stay next door to one of the newest malls in the city- Mixc. Mix C mall had a so many fun stores and attractions, including an ice rink, roof top sand box and playground, two kid’s play places, grocery store, and tons of stores and restaurants. It was incredibly clean and very easy to forget that it was in the middle of China! Anyway, when we explored the mall for the first time, Landon saw a commerical for Myrules world. He saw kids decorating cakes, pretending to do surgery, and many other fun activities. After that, he asked to go to Myrules world every day. We waited for a bad weather day, and then went to check it out right when the mall opened. When we arrived, we found that no one spoke English, and although it is usually not a problem, it was a problem at this “play place.” Unlike other kid’s places we have visited, this place had a defined curriculum for each station, but the “tutors” did not know enough English to translate the curriculum. They actually refunded my admission fee (180 rmb!) and told me that Landon would not have fun and that we should go somewhere else. In the meantime, Landon had found the airplane and decided to pretend to be a pilot. At this point, he didn’t realize that he needed a tutor with him to go into the different rooms, so he was confused when the tutors took him back to show him some of the activities for free.
First up, they showed him a golf shop with a real golf swing simulator/ video game and putting green. He was not really excited about this station, so they took him to the driver’s training center where they let him drive a little bumper car around the track. Another kid showed up, and so the tutors opened up a small submarine with a simulator. In an attached room, there were little sailor outfits and hats to wear for this activity. Landon was not quite old enough to figure out how to drive the simulator, but with help from the tutors and me, we were able to each do a job in the submarine to drive it and shoot some things. It was so neat that each person had a specific job in the submarine and all had to work together. It was unfortunate that everything was in Chinese so we weren’t sure how to help the submarine run. At this point, Landon wanted to tag along with the other boy and it was getting a little awkward. The tutors let him do all the activities of the other kids, but I think they were wondering why he was still there and didn’t leave when they told us to leave. So, I went back up to the front to pay, for the second time. I told them that he was having fun and wanted to continue. After that, Landon did fireman training in the fire station. After getting all their gear on, the fire alarm went off and they loaded up in the fire engine to go to the fire! Landon was almost beside himself with happiness at getting to ride in the back of the fire truck and put out a “fire” with real water.
After each successfully completed activity, the tutors gave each child myrules money that they could use for a fun activity later on in the day. There was a schedule posted at the ticket counter with which activities were scheduled for the day, and there was an hour break for lunch after the fire station. When we returned, none of the other children returned, so the tutors let Landon do many other activities that were not on the schedule. He learned how to milk a cow at the farm station (and real, white liquid came out of the udders)! They tried to do a special army station with him, but Landon was not into that. Even though it was a reward activity that cost myrules money, the tutors played laser tag with us! It was really fun, and Landon caught on fast even though he had never played before.
I think one of Landon’s favorite activities was pretending to be a pilot. He went into the airline office and got dressed in a hat, coat, sunglasses, and pulled a bag from the luggage office to the real airplane. Inside of the airplane was a real flight simulator. Owen was sleeping at this point, so I got to be the passenger. He actually managed to drive the plane off the ground, and after a few major scares and some interesting aerial tricks, he landed us back on the ground in Shanghai. After flying the plane, he pretended to be a flight attendant and served me some very real-looking fake food. It was very clear by this point in the day why the tutors had to escort him from place to place. All of the materials were laid out very precisely, and were in great condition. Although this kind of place would never stay nice in America, I appreciated that everything was so clean and organized!
The tutors actually taught some great skills in some of the stations. At the emergency room, she tried to teach Landon CPR, but it was a little over his head and did not catch his interest. He was too busy looking at the archaeology station, where he got to dig for artifacts buried in the sand. It took him a long time to find it, but he was SO EXCITED when he found a bowl. We had recently visited a museum with old pottery, and he was convinced that the pottery in the museum was found in this little dirt pit and that his bowl was going to be put into the exhibit. It was really cute, and he totally understood when his bowl went missing because “they had to take it to the museum” and not that the tutor reburied the bowl in the dirt pile already!
For our last activity of the day, the tutors took him to a earthquake and geology center. He built a block building and then they turned on the earthquake simulator (first a small quake, then a large one) and saw how the buildings fared during a quake. It was interesting to sit inside of the earthquake simulation room and watch the buildings shift and fall. I think if we knew Chinese, they would have told us about earthquakes, and what to do to stay safe. It was a good parent teaching moment afterwards as we talked about what we should do in case of earthquake.
After our last activity, our tutors and all the other staff members were busy hosting a large group of special needs children. They told us we could walk around the streets of the fake city, but Landon was not content with just walking aimlessly around and wanted to go inside and do more activities. I allowed him to do the police station, and we tried to not disturb anything, but we were kicked out fairly quickly from the room so we just left.
Myrules World was one of the coolest “children’s museum”-type places that I’ve ever visited. I can understand why it is set up the way that it is- and that is how they can have so many over-the-top and interesting features that are usually left out of a typical children’s museum exhibit. I think Chinese children are a little more compliant, and so they just stay where they are supposed to be and do what they are told. It is pricey, so I would recommend it for Chinese speaking children over the age of 5 to get the full experience.