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Enchanting Hand-Built Play Space Fuses Best of Nation's Museums

By Meredith Hoffman | March 25, 2013 8:24am

WILLIAMSBURG — Scurry across a suspension bridge from a burning house, shoot cloth out of dragons' mouths or wander through the "noodle forest" in an elevated disco den.

Turn your hair pink in the "Princess Salon," flash a Brooklyn fire truck's lights as you sit behind the wheel, or bounce down a slide to a ground of quicksand.

You don't have to go to Disney Land — this enchanting bubble is tucked away on a Williamsburg side street.

Twinkle Playspace — a family-owned, designed and built center officially opening next month — weaves together inspiration from museums around the nation, in a magical mini-universe that parents say "blows other places out of the water."

"We've been to other children's museums and play spaces around the country and we were blown away," said local mother Robin Hagert. "This by far is the best, most creative place we've been to."

And from the electric stroller carousel to the coat hooks made from plumbing valves, every meticulous detail intends to be distinct from other children's worlds.

"Everything we put in here is different — if you've seen it somewhere else this is better," boasted owner Victor John, an engineer who started Twinkle with his two daughters and made most of the structures across the street in their workshop. "We want every kid to come here to have fun, that's first. The learning will come naturally."

Twinkle drew influences from parts of the Children's Museum of Phoenix, the Children's Museum of the East End and the Brooklyn Children's Museum, said John's daughter Vanessa Yee-Chan, a mother of two who said she'd felt a need for a creative kids' center in Williamsburg.

"It targets kids up to 6 years old," she said of the space that includes a  brick general store with miniature shopping carts, operational conveyor belts and fake fruit and ice cream. "But adults can rent it for events too."

Adults might have trouble squeezing into the kids'-sized fireman outfits, but they can still don the rainbow wigs draped on scalloped pink chairs in the salon, as Yee-Chan and her family demonstrated.

The space will also constantly add new elements, said John, who has been creating space ships and treehouses for his daughters since they were children.

"I have an idea and I can make it," he said of his engineering background and workshop. "Now we're bringing all of our experience together."

Twinkle Playspace will be open weekdays 10 a.m. — 5 p.m., and weekends 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. The space is also open for birthday parties and other event rentals. For more information, email info@twinkleplayspace.com or visit the company's Facebook page.