Pros: open design, large and roomy, very girly
Cons: no longer sold new from Fisher Price, hard to find!
Last summer I picked up a small gazebo playhouse for my children at a yardsale. My kids liked it, especially my daughter - but it was really too small. I know a lady here locally who has a small side-business reselling 'fantastic plastic' (you know the kids outdoor stuff from Little Tikes, Step-2, Fisher-Price, etc). As it turns out she had been after me and wanted to buy my Little Tikes Gazebo because it was in near mint condition and extremely hard to find. So we worked out a deal and I traded with her for this Fisher-Price Barbie Party Playhouse. I'd told her that I wanted a larger house and one that was girly and this model fit the bill. Before getting this playhouse I had considered a few models including the Little Tikes Patio Playhouse and also the Step2 Sweetheart Cottage.
About the Fisher-Price Barbie Party Playhouse
The Fisher-Price Barbie Party Playhouse is a large plastic playhouse for indoor or outdoor play, meant for your children to play inside. Though the name says Barbie, this is meant for your children and not Barbie-sized. The entire house is made of plastic and has enough room inside for more than one child to play. Both Fisher-Price and Step2 have in the past sold playhouses with the Barbie name, though at this time they are both discontinued, hard to find - unless on the 2nd hand market (eBay, yardsales, craigslist) are your best bet. The manufacturers price of this house was well over $300 but picking up one secondhand you'll pay based on condition and how badly the owner wants to get rid of it. If you can find one that has been used indoors it will have bright vibrant pink and purple colors and better odds that the interior decals are intact. I don't know the history on our playhouse but its in excellent condition with minimal fading - though no decals inside (which I actually prefer).
The house itself is white with a pink roof, purple door, and pink threshold with built-in planters (that can hold real flowers). Other amenities include an in-door mailslot, overhead canopy, swing-open seating for 2 with a built in table (outside), large open windows, wall phone, kitchen sink & stove, built-in corner seat, 2 molded shelves inside, and more... The details and styling of the playhouse are reminiscent of a little cottage complete with picket fence, lattice work, carriage lights, and even siding & roof shingles. The house measures 48" long x 35" wide x 52" high, inside headroom is about 48" - and easily 2 (or more) children can play.
Assembly & Maintenance
My playhouse was delivered to my house and put together by her teenage son in a matter of minutes. Putting it together consists of interlocking the sides, the door, the roof, and the patio seats. Ironically the kid put it together incorrectly because the inside molded patterns didn't match up and the corner seat wasn't being held in place. This gave me the opportunity to take it apart, wash it down further to my liking, and put it back together. This proved a bit challenging for me since I am not a tall person and the playhouse is quite large. Assembly and re-assembly can be done by 1 person but it is easier for 2 people to do it that way one can hold the side up and the other can 'snap' it into place. Also, the roof is incredibly bulky and unwieldy for one person - yet if little 'ol me can do it.. then anyone can! I've taken our playhouse apart and put it back together a few times so I could give it a real good washing since it is left outdoors over the winter. The house cleans up incredibly nicely and fading is minimal.
One thing that I did this summer differently than last is put a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting under the playhouse. Unless you move the playhouse all around your yard it will kill the grass that is underneath it anyways and the end result was that last year the area "inside" the playhouse became worn down to the dirt. Since my children often play outside in barefeet - making it easy to go from the watertable to the sandbox to the swingset and make stops at the playhouse in between, I'd rather them walk on a soft/clean surface. I definitely recommend putting down a small piece of the indoor-outdoor carpet, I picked up a 6X7 foot roll very inexpensively and this way the interior of the house is 'carpeted' along with a perimeter around it as well as the attached patio area. Having this fake lawn area also makes it easier for my husband to mow without having to get out the weedwacker to go around the outside of the house, either. On our "lawn", I set up our Little Tikes Mailbox right next to the house and it looks quite darling. The planters on the front of this playhouse can accomodate real flowers but I've opted to fill ours with artificial plastic ones because I have a brown thumb.
Open Window Styling
Aside from the cute girly look of this house, which I enjoy for my daughter, what I love the most is that it has an open design. Have you ever been inside a plastic playhouse on a hot day? My experience showed that not only do the houses become very hot, they tend to get rather stinky too. Yuck! Friends of ours have a Little Tikes cottage that has the cutest shutters and my daughter loves to go inside and play peek-a-boo. Its a cute game and one she enjoys but I don't care for the fact that when the shutters are closed I can't see what's going on inside the house. This playhouse doesn't have shutters for a peek-a-boo game but my daughter still plays peek-a-boo by going inside and closing the door and opening it again. She doesn't seem to mind that I can see right inside from 3 of the sides which have great big open windows. These windows have the advantage of providing excellent ventilation into the house so its breezy and doesn't become 'too hot to play in'.
Kitchen & Dining Area
The kitchen in this playhouse consists of a sink and stove which can be accessed from inside the house. Directly outside the kitchen is a patio table and 2 purple chairs that swing open like shutters. Kids can sit outside and enjoy a snack at the tables and another child inside can serve them from the pretend kitchen. When you are done with the patio dining (or craft) you can shut the chairs up and the patio table is hidden. The chairs are sturdy enough to hold an adult though the seat area is made for a child. My large six year old son fits with no problem.
Girly Styling..doesn't stop most boys!
Yes, my son and my daughter both play in this house despite the pinks and purples. In fact, most of the kids who play in this house besides my daughter are boys. The neighbors have a boy the same age as my son, I frequently babysit my girlfriend's son, and my daughter is great friends with a little boy down the street who is just a few weeks apart from her in age. The pink and purple hasn't stopped any of these boys from having a great time with the house. Besides, its my daughter's playhouse and she adores the pink! Ok, and I love it too.
I can't rave about our playhouse enough. Since adding it last summer its made outside play more fun in so many ways. My 2 year old daughter enjoys playing in her house alone, with her big brother, with me, and with friends. This is a roomy house that is great for more than one child to play in with lots of room for the imagination. Unfortunately at this time Fisher-Price is no longer making this house. Your best bet is finding one used (yard sales, eBay, etc). But, if you can find one for "the right price"- then snatch this up without hesitation. One of my friends fell in love with ours and went on a mission to find one and reported to me that eBay sellers were getting from $50-$300 for this same house (used) which is what it would cost to get a brand new playhouse!
Yes, it is just that good!