2017 NL: Monkeys and Marbles

Today was another special day for our boys … because it involved a marble run! They have been following the enormous and astounding marble runs created by the young Dutchman, Jelle Bakker, for a few years on his YouTube channel. Two years ago, we wanted to go and see one of them. But alas! it was not working and in the process of being fixed. Well, today, we finally made it to Gouda to see the Knikkerbaan Tsunami! It’s an appropriate name for a marble run that has over 13,500 marbles!! It’s really hard to capture on film, but I tried:

The marbles collect on one side, and when it gets to over 10,000, the whole table tips to send them rolling on their way!

The marble run is a permanent feature at the indoor playground Monkey Town in Gouda. You have to go back behind the large climbing structure to see it.

Monkey Town is a chain of indoor playgrounds in the Netherlands. It’s a great option for when it’s raining 🙂  They have seating in the center for parents to sit and still be able to keep an eye on the kiddos. They also have a small menu of lunch and snack items. This particular one in Gouda was a little tricky to find. It shares a building with a gym.

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Is it good for kids?

Well, of course! It’s made for kids! The adults on the other hand…. Well, it’s a good way to let the kiddos burn off some steam 🙂

What about the cost?

Adults are free. Kids cost €7 each. Food is extra. (This was at the Monkey Town in Gouda. I don’t know if prices differ in other locations.)

Where is it?

Check out the main website to find your nearest location. We went to the one in Gouda:

2017 NL: Wintergatan Marble Machine!

When Froggy was 4, he got his first marble run for Christmas. It became something of an obsession! We now own at least half a dozen different kinds. And he also discovered an amazing world of marble run videos on YouTube. Surprisingly, there are several connections to the Netherlands!

One famous marble run maker is Jelle Bakker. While we’re here, we’re finally going to see one of his giant marble runs (or knikkerbaan) – the Marble Tsunami! Check out Jelle’s YouTube channel for amazing homemade marble runs!

Meanwhile, today we had quite a treat! Froggy asked recently where a marble run would go when it was retired. We were somewhat confused by his question. But apparently, he had seen something on YouTube that told about the Wintergatan Marble Machine. It was being retired and would be on tour this summer. In fact, it is on display at the Spelklok Museum in Utrecht! Well, of course we had to go and see it!!

Do you know this famous marble machine? A Swedish musician named Martin Molin spent hours at the Spelklok Museum in Utrecht and was inspired to create his own kind of music machine. Only his would use marbles (or silver bearing balls) to make the music. After 16 months of work, he posted the video of his original music being played by the marble machine, and it went viral almost instantly! This is what it looks like:

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Unfortunately, the machine no longer works. Apparently, Molin created it as he went along – without a plan. So there were some flaws in the design. It also had to be taken apart to be transported, and it had even more trouble when it was put back together. Still, for fans of this extraordinary musical marble machine, it was quite a sight to behold!

I understand it will only be on display for the summer of 2017. But if you missed it, the Spelklok Museum still has a lot to offer! It has all kinds of self-playing music machines from the past several centuries. There are some interactive displays where children can crank the handle themselves to hear music playing. And there is a station upstairs where you can make your own paper for playing a music box (be sure to get the paper when you buy your tickets).

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We also enjoyed the big organ grinders. And when we’ve seen them on the streets or in the town squares, it was exciting to now know how they work!

Is it good for kids?

The boys (ages 7 & 4) really enjoyed the museum. They love music, so they enjoyed hearing the different kinds of musical machines. And they liked working the few that had handles to crank. Of course, for them, the highlight was seeing Wintergatan’s marble machine!

What about the cost?

Adult tickets cost €12. Children ages 4 – 12 are €6.50. (I assume children under 4 are free, but the website does not explicitly say that!) Entrance is free with the Museum Card.

Where is it?