Indoor playground given stamp of approval

Tracy Craig tested out her business idea on a seven-, four- and three-year-old recently and got some rave reviews.

                                           

Tracy Craig with her six-month-old son John and three-year-old son Charlie enjoy some time at Just Play, a new indoor playground and café located at Place 400.

The Quispamsis woman is opening Saint John's first giant indoor playground Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Place 400. This kids utopia will be called Just Play Inc.

But this isn't the typical indoor playground you'd find in a mall or a fast-food restaurant. This playground and café will cover 650 square metres (or 7,000-square-feet). Think the same floor area as five average bungalows, or one and a half times the size of an NBA basketball court.

The facility will boast a large play structure, complete with slides and tunnels that can accommodate up to 120 children at a time. A separate area, which will be cushioned, will cater to babies and toddlers.

A party room for birthday parties and corporate events will also serve as an area for classes such as baby massage. Another area will feature an interactive floor surface lit by thousands of LED lights and made of pressure sensitive tiles constructed to react to player's movements for an array of games. There will also be PlasmaCars, an award-winning ride-on toy, and a sports corner.

For parents, there will be a café with tables, leather sofas and chairs, a plasma TV and high-speed Internet and WiFi connections. The café will serve coffee and healthy snacks as well as lunch items.

Just after the playground structure was installed earlier this month, Craig invited her sister's two children and her own three-year-old to test it out over pizza.

"They were red-faced," she said. "They wouldn't stop. They kept going through and then they'd come and eat a piece of pizza and then they'd go through it again. They were red-faced, panting and sweating."

At one point, Craig's seven-year-old niece gave her the feedback she was looking for.

"She said, 'Auntie Tracy, we are going to have so much fun here.' So that was good."

Parents have been looking forward to the opening. Even before the doors opened, the business had over 800 members on Facebook.

"And our birthday parties are booking up like crazy, which is wonderful. We are hosting our first one on July 2."

The facility is also hosting four camps this summer for five- to 12-year-olds, including two summer fun camps running July 13 to 17 and Aug. 10 to 15 and two cheerleading camps, running July 20 to 24 and Aug. 17-21. In the fall, the facility will offer a preschool program in the mornings and an after-school program.

Just Play Inc. will be open seven days a week, and will employ four full-time, one seasonal full-time and three part-time people.

 

Published Tuesday June 30th, 2009 - Telegraph Journal