The $5 kids' day out that's the best thing you'll do all school holidays.

Tennis Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Tennis Australia

The last couple of weeks of the long summer school holidays are often the hardest.

All the movies have been seen, all the activities done, the kids are itching for something interesting and different to do, and you’re itching to find it.

You all need some family-friendly variety that fits within your budget.

For me and my 12 year old, that’s where the Australian Open came in earlier this year. We’d always wanted to go, then we heard about the $5 Kids’ Ground Pass– so off we went.

This pass lets you into the AO Ballpark, which is a huge interactive playground for little kids right through to families with kids over 10.

The AO Ballpark has everything a parent wants: excellent value for money, fresh air, physical activity, device-free time, and excellent entertainment.

And yes, we’re going again this year. It’s on from January 20 to February 2 – here’s what you need to know, from one parent to another.

Winston having the time of his life at the AO Ballpark in January. And yes, he is driving through a giant tennis racquet. Image: Supplied.

What's in the AO Ballpark for 2020?

This year, the AO Ballpark is presented by Emirates, and it's grown four times in size to previous years. That's how popular it is.

At Birrarung Marr, the space features plenty of room for fun and games, but also food and drink stalls (there are family dinner offers 5pm to 6pm every night), and plenty of shade.

The activities include the new Aqua Play Park, 60m zipline, Kia Junior Drive cars, LEGO activities, and stage shows. Literally hours of entertainment.

This year, there is a special zone for kids aged 10 and over - the AO Hilltop – which includes a bit more interaction between the kids, such as in the Supersoaker Battlezone.

And last but definitely not least, there's the thrilling 35m-high SkyFlyer ride, which happens to be the highest vantage point of the Australian Open.

australian open
The Aqua Play Park is perfect for those warmer days. Image: Supplied.

One of the things that impressed me the most earlier this year was that despite being popular, the AO Ballpark was so well run that wait time for activities was minimal, which is a huge factor for parents.

Also - we aren’t from Melbourne so were there ‘alone’, yet I still had to tear Winston away when the Ballpark closed at 7pm. He was having that much fun with all the things to try.

It was nice for me, because I got to have a little sit in the shade and relax while he did things, like rock climbing, he hadn’t been keen to do before.

All the other action at the Australian Open.

The vibe is electric, from the moment you enter. So, if you and/or the kids are looking for a little more action, here’s what else you can do at the Australian Open:

Eat, relax, enjoy.

The Australian Open is a major international event, so there’s a wide variety of culinary delights on offer. For example, on Grand Slam Oval alone, there’s Biggie Smalls kebabs, Mamasita modern Mexican, Mr Miyagi and 400 Gradi – just to name a few venues.


The other great thing to do at the tennis? People watch while listening to live music, reclining on the vast amount of lounge seating around the grounds.

Watch the tennis. Naturally.

I’m not a major follower of tennis, but I love Serena Williams, so I ensured we had tickets for her first match (tickets in the main stadiums start from $72 for adults, $62 for kids).

It was incredible to see Serena walk out on the court; and her game, which she won of course, was magic to watch.


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Me and @serenawilliams doing what we do best; Me: selfies, Serena: #winning. #extraordinary #ausopen #shesmashedit

A post shared by Nama Winston (@namawinston) on

Winston was old enough to stay engaged for the whole time, but it’s also good to know that the AO Kids Club (professional on-site childcare) is offered every day and Thursday to Sunday nights for children aged five to 12.


So if you need a little time out to concentrate on a match, or share a drink with friends at one of the many bars, you can, knowing your kids are having fun and are safe.

This year, we'll be cheering on local legend Ash Barty as she does it for Australia.

And finally, two special days just for kids to play.

Before the Australian Open kicks off, there's Kids Tennis Day on January 18, which will offer a variety of activities around the Australian Open precinct, for only $5 for kids and $10 for adults.

Also, ANZ Hot Shots Day is January 23, and the first 7000 kids into the venue are free.

The details.

What: The Australian Open.

When: January 20 to February 2, 2020.

Where: Melbourne Park.

Getting there: Extra public transport is put on to make it quick and easy.

Tickets: Ground passes (including the $5 Kids' Ground Pass) and Stadium Tickets can both be purchased at or at the event. Entry to the AO Ballpark is free during the tournament with any Australian Open ticket. Children aged two and under get free entry to the tournament, but must not occupy a reserved seat.

AO Ballpark times: Between 10am to 7pm every day except the finals weekend. For full details, visit

Have you been to the Australian Open before? What was it like?

Tennis Australia

Australian Open 2020 takes place from 20 January – 2 February. The AO Ballpark presented by Emirates is open every day of the Australian Open between 10am – 7pm with a huge range of activities for kids of all ages! For more information on everything on offer for kids and families at the event, please visit Or to book your Australian Open tickets including the $5 Kids Ground Pass, please visit