The Shoppes at Buckland Hills Play Area

Remember a time when you could go shopping for hours and hours, maybe stopping for a quick coffee or a little snack in the food court? Loading your arms and your trunk up with bags of clothes and treasures you found along the way at little stores in the mall? 

And then we had kids. 

Now we shop for maybe half an hour at most, and that is spent bribing your child with cookies and toys if mommy can just get through Target without an outburst. Your shopping is limited to how many bags can fit on the Mommy Hook. You stop multiple times for potty breaks. And shopping at the mall is wishful thinking. 

Fortunately, the wise malls that love their shoppers have a play area for the kids. Those malls know that by letting our kids have a chance to burn off some energy and have a good time for a little while, means mommy and daddy can shop for even longer. 

So, whenever we have to go shopping in the Manchester area, I always try to squeeze in a visit to The Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area to shake some sillies out of my boy, allowing me more time to do my shopping! 

They recently did some moving and renovating to the Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area play area at the mall. Before, you’d find the play area on the first floor, over by Barnes & Noble. It’s now found on the second floor, in the Carousel Cafe food court. The most direct entrance to the food court is between the Macy’s Home Store and Dick’s Sporting Goods. You can get to the food court from anywhere in the mall, either by escalator or elevator. 

There are plenty of signs leading you to the new play area. 

And if you are still having trouble finding it, they offer these helpful little markers. Cute! 

The new play area is located right next to the Carousel, which is pretty easy to spot in the rear of the food court!   

If you are looking for more than just a play area, it will be hard to avoid the Carousel! This is a must if you visit the mall when the Carousel is operating.  

The Carousel hours are Monday through Thursday: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hours do not appear to be listed on the mall’s website, and may change seasonally. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that the carousel didn’t open until 2 p.m. during the week. Since we were visiting in the morning, before lunch and naptime, we missed it. I was pretty disappointed, but this kid was none the wiser. Next time, we’ll plan for an afternoon visit! 

The signs were pretty confusing regarding how much the Carousel ride costs;  so I am not exactly sure how much a ride is, and if adults riding with a child have to pay. From what I could gather from the big sign, children over 45 inches can ride alone, but if they are under 45 inches, parents must accompany and stand with the child. All riders, including adults, must have a token. Tokens are sold at the token machine. 

But then this sign confused me by saying that all children must have a ticket, but the person riding with the child does not need one…. So, I think we will need to make a trip back to this mall for clarification sometime soon!

Regardless, tokens cost $2.50 each (if you buy multiple tickets, you get a discount). 

Since we could not ride the carousel, we headed right to the play area. The play area is to the left of the carousel.

The one thing I noticed about the new location of the Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area is that it’s actually smaller than it’s old location.  It still contains most of the same features as it used to when it was on the first floor, but they are packed in a little tighter. There is a little less seating for the parents, and strollers definitely should stay outside when possible since it’s more crowded. Regardless of its size, the kids still have fun! 

The rules for the Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area are found right outside the entrance and include the usual: watch your children, wear socks (no shoes or barefeet), no food or drink, children must be under 42″ to play, etc. 


They have comfortable seating for the parents! 

There’s a lot to do in this play area! Many things to climb on and under, slides to go down, animals to crawl around and games on the wall.  And the whole area is carpeted, and super soft if there is a tumble.  

The tree, while fun for the kids, is a pretty big blind spot. It’s probably the one thing that is most concerning when watching your children, especially when they hide on the other side from where you are sitting. 

They had a few different climber/slides. This grey rock was hard for my boy to get on, so I had to keep picking him up to go down the slide. 

And this ramp was pretty slippery and made for a more challenging climb! But when he finally did make it to the top, he was so excited! 

Of course, no mall play area would be complete without the different animals to climb on! They have a turtle, rabbit, and a ladybug. 

He liked climbing on the fox! 

And the deer! 

In addition to all the climbing structures, they have a few different games on the walls of the play area. 

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area was really clean, which I appreciated! It was a little more cramped than it used to be, but like I mentioned above, the kids don’t care! He had just as much fun as he did the last time we visited when it was on the first floor. We spent over an hour playing in this little play area! It was a rainy day, so I was not complaining that we found a warm, dry place to hang out! 

Of course, we had to find time to squeeze in a ride on one these fun cars, which are located on the opposite side of the carousel. Since he didn’t get a carousel ride, I figured it was the least I could do! They had a coin machine too, which worked out since I never carry that many quarters on me! 

Naturally, we had to use the bathroom since we were there for more than an hour! The bathrooms are located at the the front of the Carousel Cafe. They have a women’s and a men’s room, as well as a family restroom with a changing area and a nursing lounge! 

If you allow additional time, you can stop for lunch in the Carousel Cafe. There are also plenty of stores to shop. We had a quick pick up at JC Penney, and since we spent so much time at the play area, we were ready to go home! 

The Shoppes at Buckland Hills Mall Play Area is one of the nicer ones that we have found in a mall. It’s really clean and maintained well. The blind spot created by the tree is not the greatest but since the area is mostly enclosed, there is not too much concern for escape if you sit near the entrance. The Carousel (when operating) is definitely a major bonus and pretty unique! 

This is a great place to check out during a rainy day, or during the holidays when you have all that shopping to do! And it will also be a nice air conditioned escape from the upcoming summer heat! 

This about sums it up…

194 Buckland Hills Drive – Manchester, Connecticut


Mall Hours:  Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please note the hours may differ during the holiday season


  • FREE!
  • Located in Carousel Cafe 
  • Strollers should be parked outside of the play area
  • Open playground area, designed for children 42″ and smaller
  • Carpeted flooring
  • Seating surrounds the whole play area
  • Carousel available- hours differ from Mall. Cost start at $2.50 per person, per ride
  • Mall parking lot offers many spots, and entrance points. Direct parking to the Carousel Cafe and Play Area can be found on the upper level between Macy’s and Dick’s
  • Family bathroom with changing table is located in the Carousel Cafe


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