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Best After-School Hangout
Best All-Ages Gift Emporium
Best Birthday Party
Best Book Selection
Best Catered-To-Kids Restaurant
Best Cheap Chill
Best Clothes
Best Free Thrill
Best Indoor Playground
Best Outdoor Playground
Best Outing (Other Than The Malls)
Best Party Supplies
Best Snow Cones
Best Teen Scene
Best Toys
Best Upscale Kids' Clothes

Best Playground

6651 E. Tanque Verde Road

READERS' PICK: The world's oldest McDonald's hamburger stand is off Van Nuys Way; the world's biggest, with three dance halls inside, is near Tulsa. But the world's oddest McDonald's may be our own--the outlet at the busy corner of Tanque Verde and Grant roads, where a towering sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus rex threatens passers-by. The dino statue is ever-changing; one day its eyes glitter red, the next they shimmer green, and at Christmas the monster sports a stocking cap. All very fun--and so, apparently, is the enclosed playground over which the beast stands guard, its warren of PVC tunnels and crow's nests voted by our readers the favorite of eastside kids. You don't even have to eat the food to enter, although the tikes are likely to clamor for it anyway.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Discovery Zone, 6238 E. Broadway

A REAL SCREAM: Parents often joke about how their children, on Christmas morning, seem more interested in the boxes than the toys. This is because mass-marketed toys are constrained, mandated with clearly-defined limits; a box, however, possesses infinite possibilities. This is precisely the reason why government-mandated graffiti and skateboard areas will invariably fail. In a year when the readers voted for the most detestable corporate entity on the planet as their chosen playground for tomorrow's world leaders, we just thought we'd make ourselves feel better by pretending it doesn't matter whether our kids have a "safe" place to play--they'll make their own, even if their adults don't provide them with one.

Case History

1998 Winner: Reid Park
1996 Winner: Reid Park
1995 Winner: Discovery Zone Funcenter

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