This is such a difficult blog for me to write as I am still shaken by the events of last night and even more terrified after what I experienced/witnessed today. On Wednesday, September 5th I took my son Mason, 15 months and his friend Alana, almost 3 years old to McDonalds play place to get out some evening energy after we tried playing outside but the mosquitoes were eating us alive. I took them to McDonalds located in Crofton, in the median on Rte 3. They have the biggest play place around and while it is not as clean as Chick-fil-a's play place I do love that this one has steps to allow my son who doesn't have the height yet to get all around the play area.
After arriving at McDonalds I took the kids shoes off and let them go at it, they were both up the stairs and heading across the cargo nets in seconds. Of course my son was about half way through the cargo nets when he started calling to me... so my shoes came off and up I went. This was not my first time crawling through a play area with him and WILL NOT be my last. After going around the front cargo net the kids skipped the slide and decided to go through the back cargo net. This takes them to a platform area, an area where I discovered something terrifying.
While my son and his friend were standing on the platform the leaned into the netting that serves as the "walls" of the play place. All kids love to lean into these, lick them, try to climb them, etc... As they started leaning I noticed that the one side was completely disconnected, it had been cut. Not a small hole but the entire panel from top to bottom. This was the highest section of the play place. I wasn't sure how high up we were but after looking down I could see that if a kid fell through they would not only have a long drop but would also hit mutliple support beams on the way down.
I only had my cell phone with me but I took multiple pictures as well as a video. I took the kids out and went and got the manager. The manager on duty took my word for it, and looked at the pictures I had taken as he did not want to climb up and see for himself. He did get the other family out and locked the play place down. I obviously posted the video to my facebook page and shared it with all of my friends and groups as a warning to parents to try to climb through at least once if they can because this is terrifying and who knows how long this was like this as we reported this to the manager at 8:30pm, so kids were clearly playing all day and I have a feeling this had been like this for awhile.
I woke up this morning with a bad feeling so I went ahead and called the McDonalds and asked what time the play place opened. I was informed, "it's already opened up for the day". I freaked, grabbed my camera, tape measure and headed up there. When I arrived there were kids already playing and a daycare leaving, with at least 6 kids. I went around and informed all of the parents sitting there what the situation was and how I had informed the management last night of the situation and clearly they didn't care about our childrens safety. I then grabbed my camera and tape measure and headed up to the top where the cuts in wall nets are. First thing I did was drop the tape measure down and from a seated position where the opening was and measured to the floor. So, if a child was in a seated position and fell through the opening they would fall a whopping THIRTEEN FEET!
While I was up in the play place, blocking the opening, I went ahead and called corporate who took all the information as well as my contact information and told me they would forward the message to the appropriate party. I asked them if they could contact the store immediately and tell them they NEEDED to shut it down and I was told that they would have to locate the appropriate contact information, I assume because they are franchised and would try to get in touch with them as soon as they could. This seemed obnoxious to me as I am not only watching out for the safety of my child and other children but I am also helping them prevent a billion dollar lawsuit.
After taking yet another video and multiple pictures depicting that nothing had changed and showing the measurement of the distance from the platform to the floor I proceeded out of the playset and off to find the manager on duty. I ended up speaking with manager Jiu Davis who shut the play place down immediately but was not very polite when dealing with me. It seemed as though she was irritated that I brought this to her attention because now it was something she had to deal with today.
I also went ahead and contaced NBC 4 after I discovered that the play place had been reopened this morning after I brought the danger to the attention of management last night. I am waiting to hear back from them to see what if anything they have been able to discover regarding the dangerous play place that I have not.
** I might add that manager, Jui Davis informed me that the play place had been inspected 2 weeks ago... I pointed out to her that all that meant was that that opening could have been there for 13 days. Plain and simple, someone needs to crawl through the play place and inspect it daily because clearly there are sick people out there who thought it would be funny to cut open a wall at the highest point of the play place which children climb through all day, every day. While I would love to say that this post is not meant to scare you, it is.