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A fairy ‘Tales’ birthday

Parties: Tales in Los Angeles caters to kids and families looking for fun

Posted: March 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Magnus Eisler, center, of Saugus, celebrated his fourth birthday on Feb. 16 with the help of Santa Clarita Valley friends Bella McHugh and Tyler Clark at Tales in Los Angeles.

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With family and friends located all over the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County, actress and Saugus resident Kristy Swanson needed a central place to celebrate her son Magnus’ fourth birthday.

Then there was the weather to consider.

“My son’s birthday is Feb. 16, so you always have to keep in mind that even in California, it could be raining,” she said. “I always try to do something indoors, just in case.”

Swanson found everything she was looking for at Tales, a new children’s activity center in Los Angeles that specializes in weekend birthday parties.

She, husband and Olympic ice skater Lloyd Eisler, Magnus and 45 guests rang in the occasion with a two-hour Popeye-themed birthday party at Tales.

Originally, Magnus wanted a “Toy Story”-themed event, until his mom suggested otherwise.

“We talked about the party right after Christmas and I was a little ‘Toy Story’-ed out,” Swanson explained. “Magnus likes Popeye a lot, so we did a Popeye goes to circus theme. It was great, like a throwback to my childhood.”

Food for Magnus’ big day included gluten-free treats from Dr. Lucy’s Cookies and Kaia Foods, plus lunch from Oak Fire Pizza and circus-themed desserts from Sugar Babies Cupcakery.

Younger attendees at the party enjoyed activities that ranged from karaoke to performing on stage to jumping on the only indoor pillow bounce in California. There was even a mini-putt golf course available in the back of Tales, as well as arts and crafts and dress up with hats, wigs and tattoos.

“It was a new place no one had ever been to,” Swanson said. “Every child found something fun to do. They were running all over, having a good time. It was just two hours of pure fun.”

Founded in February by owners Jennifer Webb and Catherine Corona, Tales offers open play time to its clients Monday through Friday, with puppet shows and story time on Wednesday mornings. Plans for touring shows to visit Tales, as well as spring break and summer camp, are in the works.

Birthday parties, offered on the weekends, have caught on quickly with families across Southern California.

“We’ve had 15 birthday parties in six weeks. We’ve done everything from cupcake decorating to making slinky dogs from ‘Toy Story’ to music videos for 25 screaming 9-year-olds,” Webb said. “Really, unless someone wants an elephant or something way over the top, we can do it all.”

So far, the most popular event has been a Michael Jackson-inspired “Graffiti on the Wall” party, which offers youngsters the opportunity to airbrush items of clothing (selected in advance by parents) and sing along with Jackson tunes.

Rock-star parties are frequently chosen, too. “We spray boys’ hair with different colored hairsprays, style it all spiky, then they get up on stage and sing,” Webb said.

Most events, Webb said, are built around the 15-foot-by-15-foot jumping pillow, which has flexible padded walls, starting with the “Balloon Pit Scavenger Hunt.”

“We fill it with 50 to 75 balloons and candy. All the kids go running into the pit and search for the candy treasures,” she said.

Prices for parties start at $385 for up to 20 children, and max out at approximately $750.

Additional options, available for an additional cost, can include the use of a Tales creative specialist and/or entertainer or an ice cream truck.

Swanson, who starred in the movies  “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “What If,” found the pricing for Magnus’ party very reasonable.

 “It’s not one of those outrageous celebrity parties. It’s something doable and affordable, not obnoxious or going too far for a 4-year-old birthday party,” she said. “I’m all about balance.”

Ultimately, Swanson noted, it was about everyone Magnus cared about being in the same place at the same time.

“My son is extremely social. He loves people. I think he just enjoyed all his family and friends being there, since we don’t get together all the time,” she said. “There were some of his Santa Clarita Valley friends, some friends from Orange County and Hollywood, a mixture of everyone he really enjoyed.”

Tales, 7926 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.talesla.com or call (310) 773-7693.

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