“Stop exercising and just sit and play video games!” said no parent ever. Instead, you’ve probably found yourself in the opposite scenario—having to tell your kids to put down the video games and go play outside, read a book or play a sport. For families that struggle with making fitness fun, CanDo is a great alternative to the typical Qatar play area or arcade.
Combining entertainment with physical exercise, this new play area in the Gate Mall is divided into three zones—Green, Yellow and Red. Children aged five years and older can “charge their battery”, that is, earn points, by playing high-energy, interactive games like rowing, drumming and cycling in the Green Zone or solving puzzles in the Yellow Zone. In the Red Zone, they can redeem their points for video games, 4D movies, bowling and other less physically exerting games.
There are a few games and activities worth noting. First is the interactive climbing wall with touch-sensitive handles in the Yellow Zone. Here your children can play several different games, all of which require some climbing and running as they try to grab the handles as they light up. In the Red Zone, there is a small tabletop arena with Sphero Ollies, cylindrically shaped robots controlled by tablets. Up to nine kids at a time can take control over the Ollies and battle it out to see who can make the best spins, flips and jumps. The kid-sized bowling lane is a lot of fun too. It’s too small for teens but perfect for kids eight years old and younger.
Instead of paying per activity like other play areas, at CanDo you pay by the hour. Each child receives a special device that tracks their point balance and how much time they have left to play. These trackers are worn in a special wrist sweatband that kids can take home as a souvenir. If time runs out before your children have used up all their points, don’t worry, CanDo saves their point balance for the next visit.
Red Zone games cost more points and take more time to play than Green or Yellow Zone activities take to earn points. This means that the amount of time spent earning versus redeeming points ends up being about the same. However, the “battery charging” activities are just as fun (if not more) as the Red Zone activities, so ultimately the amount of time a kid spends in each area depends on his or her interests. All in all, the concept behind CanDo is innovative and exciting and a welcome play area alternative.
Co-ordinates: 25.322449, 51.526812
Location: 2nd Floor, The Gate Mall, opposite Eatopia
Directions: Driving along Al Corniche St. towards West Bay, turn left onto Conference Centre Rd. After driving past City Center Mall, turn left onto Omar Al Mukhtar St. The Gate Mall will be on your right.
Parking: Minimal street parking, but there is ample paid parking in the lot below the mall and Salam Stores. Parking lot fees are QR 2 for one hour, QR 4 for two hours, QR 7 for three hours, QR 10 for four hours and QR 5 per additional hour after the fourth hour.
Nearby landmarks: The Gate Mall, City Center Mall
Fathers allowed: Yes
Hours: Saturday to Thursday 10:00–21:00, Friday 13:00–23:00
Entrance fees: QR 95 for one hour, QR 150 for two hours, QR 200 for three hours and QR 400 for the day (all fees include bonus points)
Contact: facebook.com/CANDODOHA, +974 6680-3422, +974 4020-6414
Age group: Five years old and up
Food and beverages: Eatopia is just outside the entrance to CanDo. The Gate Mall has several kid-friendly restaurants and cafés including Jones the Grocer, Café Céramique, Spicy Pickle and Sandwich Factory. There is a small seating area in the Yellow Zone where you can break for a snack.
Toilet facilities: The toilet facilities are located outside CanDo to the right and down the hallway.
Nearby prayer rooms: The nearest prayer rooms are outside and to the right, down the hallway where the bathrooms are located.
Things to note
Some activities like the skating, laser and robot arena games may be a little difficult for younger kids, but the staff are great at giving kids a helping hand.
While the venue is mostly safe (and staff are very attentive), be aware that many of these games require a reasonable amount of physical exertion, which means that the opportunities for bumps and bruises are greater than a normal video game arcade.
The venue is not large compared to other play areas in Qatar and with a few exceptions, each game is limited to one or two participants per station. So, on a busy day, kids may find themselves using up their play time waiting for a turn on the most popular attractions.
CanDo offers a variety of party packages for up to 20 kids ranging in price from QR 3,000 to QR 6,500.
The Ollie arena was a bit bare bones during our visit in June, but management said that they have plans to enhance the track.