For two P.E.I. newcomers, the traits associated with the popular animal also seem to perfectly encapsulate the mission of their new business.
The Panda Fun indoor playground, which features a massive jungle gym, ballpit, slides and much more, aims to be a wonderland for both children and adults.
Victor Zhong, who owns the business in the old Garment Depot location off Allen Street in Charlottetown with Hua Wang, said they hope to be open by the middle of this week.
“The panda means a lot of fun and happiness,” said Zhong, noting that the company’s logo features a panda inside a colourful house. “We just want to bring more happiness to kids and parents on the Island.”
Zhong moved to P.E.I. about three years ago from south China, where he worked as a consultant for a company similar to Panda Fun.
He said there are many indoor playgrounds in China due to the high population of children.
Having two children of his own, Zhong noticed a lack of similar playgrounds when he first moved to the province.
Last April, he began working towards opening his own company.
“I just wanted to do this kind of business. It’s really taken quite a lot of time to prepare the whole thing,” said Zhong, noting that he got the final approval from the province late last year.
Since then, he’s had to bring in the equipment manufacturers from China to help him set up the playground.
Zhong’s quick to point out that safety was the focus of putting together the facility. The jungle-themed playground has much of the walls and surfaces that kids can access covered with bright foam.
“We just wanted to make a place where kids could play in a very safe environment,” said Zhong. “Safety is our number one priority.”
The location doesn’t consist solely of the massive jungle gym.
Panda Fun also includes two party rooms that will be open to rent on birthdays and other special occasions.
Zhong also has several virtual reality headsets where kids and adults can enjoy life-like experiences such as barrelling down roller coasters, flying an airplane or hunting dinosaurs.
Another area in the building is an arts and crafts station, where kids can paint and take home pre-made ceramic models.
“We wanted to bring some different kinds of ideas to this place,” said Zhong. “After the opening, we might bring in more equipment for adults and maybe some other toys for kids.”
Another niche aspect of the business relies on the animal which it’s named after.
Zhong said the location will be selling all sorts of items related to and featuring panda bears.
“The panda is the main theme of the playground, so if people are thinking about products related to pandas, I hope they’ll think about Panda Fun,” he said.
Admission for the playground will likely start at $12.99 per session, although the company will also offer deals where customers can purchase several passes at once. Zhong said the hope is that if the Charlottetown location takes off, he would eventually like to turn the unique company into its own franchise.
“We want to start it from the Island first and the next stop is we’d like to expand to the rest of the Atlantic provinces,” he said. “Maybe later we’ll be able to expand into other areas of Canada.”
AT A GLANCE
- Provisional hours
Monday to Thursday – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday – Noon to 7 p.m.