New owners have invested nearly half a million dollars in new features and upgrades to the 20,000-square-foot center.
Makutu’s Island, a longtime family fun center in Chandler, reopens in late June with a new look under its new ownership.
Husband and wife Kiran Bapatla and Kiran Vedantam purchased Makutu’s Island for an undisclosed amount from Chase bank in May and began renovations right away, Vedantam said. Reggie Fowler, an entrepreneur who made national headlines when he bid in 2005 to become the first African-American owner of an NFL team, defaulted on financial obligations that included Makutu’s Island in 2013.
The new owners are both graduates of Arizona State University and live in Chandler. Vedantam, formerly an engineer at Intel Corp., runs Kirans & Associates Realty and was named Arizona’s top realtor by Real Trends in 2013.
The Vedantams said they will keep the Makutu’s Island name, which is known to many families in metro Phoenix. Since they purchased the center, the couple has invested nearly half a million in new features and upgrades to the 20,000-square-foot standalone building. Makutu’s Island features a 25-foot indoor oak tree connected to tunnels, tubes, mole holes, fire poles and slides. It also features a theater, cafe, aquarium and six private party rooms.
Families and children familiar with characters Makutu, the jaguar cub; Captain Max, the parrot; Kiki, the koala bear; and Oscar, the alligator will still see them throughout the center.
New is a 25-foot-tall Captain Max bungee jump with a trampoline, a gift store, new arcade games, additional lighting in the tunnel and caves, padded gates and poles. The cafe area will feature more than 15 menu items that include a fusion of Italian, Indian, Asian and other ethnic foods such as tandoori chicken pizza. Gluten-free vegetarian options will be available, Vedantam said. Fresh frozen yogurt will be made on site.
The Vedantams, who have a daughter Ruhee, 6, and son Rushil, 8, put a lot of thought into what parents and children need and want. Classes for yoga, art and dance will be offered in the theater, a charging station will be available for mobile devices, and live-streaming is available so that relatives who live elsewhere can watch the parties. Benches and island-themed crates have been added for additional seating.
“We’ve been going through what other parents are through in this phase of life,” Vedantam said, referring to families in search of fun things to do with their children. “We want it to be meaningful, fun and the best price for children.”Birthday parties start at $150 with food for 15 kids. Single entry is $10 for children and free for an adult with child.
Samarth Mohan, chief vision officer, said major renovations went into making climbing structures, tunnels and cave-like areas safer with reinforced features and lighting. For example, a bridge that is connected to the tree and a slide tunnel was rebuilt with a steel frame. The bridge will also feature a zip-line for children to slide across the bridge.
The couple is hiring 50 people, some of which will be in the tunnel and mole-hole areas in case parents and children need assistance.
Reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @asoenarie . Original AZ Central story here.