PARENTS LOOKING for help keeping young guests happy and entertained during a birthday party will find many companies and individuals who furnish clowns, pony rides and cartoon characters. A few offer distinctive services for an out-of-the-ordinary birthday experience.

Parties by Panda-monium will deliver a gym with apparatus including mats, a rolling donut, air log, tumbling mats and ball pit. Two staff members lead the activities and spot for safety. Parties can be suited for toddlers or junior gymnasts or for physically or mentally handicapped children. Also offered: "wet" parties with water balloons and three educational magic shows.

The Orange County-based Robot Co. provides a dancing, spinning robot who gives rides and plays hide-and-seek. The robot projects children's voices to sound like such characters as John Wayne and Alvin the Chipmunk or anything in between; older youngsters may be permitted to operate the robot's controls. Dance-on-Wheels does custom-designed parties, such as a "Dirty Dancing" party or a '50s-theme party. Children can be anything from hatching dinosaur eggs to tea-party guests dressed in antique clothing. Sugar Free Fun Catering offers a variety of cakes and ice cream sweetened without refined sugar or artificial sweetners. The company will also prepare the entire menu: Build-your-own-pizza parties are popular. The company often joins forces with Dance-on-Wheels, but either can be retained individually.

For something entirely different, The Lizard Lady brings her traveling reptile petting zoo. After introducing children to each lizard or snake, she invites the youngsters to hold the animal. Many kids and even some adults like to "wear" Sheila, an 8-foot python. Parties for Panda-monium, based in Canoga Park, charges about $200 for a one-hour event.

The cost of the robot from the Robot Co., in Costa Mesa, is $125 per hour for the first two hours.

Dance-on-Wheels and Sugar Free Fun Catering are located in Van Nuys. Dance-on-Wheels charges $120 and up for a one- to one-and-a-half-hour theme party. Sugar Free Fun cakes are priced from $35; one-half gallon of homemade ice cream is $15.

The Lizard Lady, in Van Nuys, charges $100 and up for a 50-minute presentation. All performers will travel to most areas of Southern California; they may add a mileage surcharge.

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