Subscribe By E-mail


Review: Jumping Jax

One of the biggest challenges as a parent of a young child is keeping that child entertained for extended periods of time. Some days, it feels like my wife and I manage to read every one of Ava's books and play with every one of her toys, but then we look at the clock and only an hour has passed. This can be especially difficult for parents of kids that are under 3 or so, because there simply aren't many outside entertainment options (I refuse to be that parent that takes their 18 month old to the movie theater, please reference Brian Posehn's bit on movie ruiners).

So one day when I had taken a day off work and my wife was gone, I was on a mission to find something new for Ava and I to do. I recalled seeing a sign on my commute home for a place called 'Jumping Jax'. I had no idea what it was, but it had a cartoon kangaroo on it, so I felt it was at least safe to assume it was for kids. After a little research (God bless you, Google), I found out from their website that it was 'Southern Johnson County's premiere indoor inflatable play facility'. Quite frankly, I don't know of any other Southern Johnson County inflatable play facility's, so the 'premiere' label seems a bit excessive, but it seemed like an interesting place, so I decided to give it a shot.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Jumping Jax; my assumption was that it would be a sensory-overload, constant-lights-and-sounds-to-distract-your-ADD-riddled-children type of place. As I walked in though, I was surprised to see that it was a pretty plain and understated place. Beyond the gigantic inflatables, there's really not much to it other than some tables (for parties) and a room with couches, a TV and a soda machine (for parents desperate for some refuge).

For me, the first perk of this place was the price. Since Ava was under 2, she was only $4. Over 2 years old, the price doubles to $8 for the first child, $5 each after that. Judging by their Facebook page, they often have 2-for-1 open play deals, so be on the lookout for that. Parents are always free, which was a nice perk too. Since Ava was small, the front desk attendant noted that I was welcome to go with her as she explored the inflatables (which, as you'll read below, turned out to be easier said than done).

Ava scales to the summit, prepared to eat me alive if rations run out.

We walked into the first of two main rooms, and immediately I was worried that this wasn't going to work. Kids running around like maniacs everywhere, climbing up the inflatable stairs, launching down the slides, tearing through the obstacles, etc. And one thing I've learned in my first year and a half of parenting is that older kids can be real pricks (for lack of a better word) to smaller kids. I immediately morphed into defensive dad mode and moved cautiously towards the first inflatable. Ava had no idea what she was getting thrust into, and because of the way these inflatables are designed, I basically had to carry her up the 'stairs'. So this is where I issue my first caveat for Jumping Jax:

If your kid is under 2, this might not be a place you want to try. If your kid is under 2 and you are overweight or out of shape, this is DEFINITELY not a place you want to try. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, and weigh about 175 pounds, and I had quite a bit of difficult trying to maneuver through these things while also making sure Ava was safe and could get up and down. Plus, many of  Throw in the bratty kids that fly through without any concern for others, and it can get a little sketchy. We stayed in this room for 20 minutes or so and decided to relocate to see if we could escape the loonies in the other room.

The second room had just cleared out from a party, so we had it all to ourselves, which was nice because it gave us a chance to explore on our own time without feeling rushed by chemically imbalanced children. Although it took her a while to warm up to it, Ava loved the bounce house. Of course, this is the child that enjoys spinning around until she's dizzy and falls over, so it doesn't surprise me that she was into it. The obstacle/slide inflatable in this room seemed to have even smaller tunnels than the first ones, so I felt like I was in some vinyl-smelling Alice in Wonderland moment. We spent some quality time in this room, but inevitably, the Children of the Corn stormed in and made it unpleasant for us. On that note, it was time to go, but after getting an hour and a half of entertainment for $4, I was fairly pleased.

The calm before the psycho-children storm.

Besides the crazy kids, there were a few other negatives about Jumping Jax that are worth noting:

For starters, besides the front desk attendant, I never saw a single employee in the rooms with the inflatables. I understand that the parents should be responsible for thir children, but to me it would make sense to at least have one person keeping an eye on the activity to aid in case of an injury, to answer questions, and just to help in general.

And on a similar note, since I didn't see any employees walking around, I never saw anything being cleaned. I am a bit of a germaphobe so maybe others aren't as concerned about that. But to me, when a bunch of sweaty, drooly kids are running and diving around on the same surfaces, cleaning should be a constant activity.

Finally, the place is well-polished in the front room, but in the inflatable rooms there didn't seem to be a lot of concern for upkeep. Holes in inflatables were patched with what seemed to just be duct tape and next to the bounce house there was a HUGE hole smashed into the wall. I'm sure the kids don't care, but as an anal, overanalytical parent, these are just things I noticed.

So, let's wrap this up with the big question; would I go back again? Yes, but not until Ava is older and can handle playing in the inflatables by herself. I came home with way too many vinyl burns to want to go back and have to venture into those things myself. Ava had a lot of fun though, and I think it would be even more fun for her if she was able to experience everything there to its fullest.

Interested in learning more about Jumping Jax? Check out their website or their Facebook page. It's important to note that they have specific open play periods, and there is NO open play on the weekends. They also keep their website updated with the dates where open play might be restricted to one room because of a party.

Finally, one more suggestion. If you are headed to Jumping Jax and need some music to get hyped up, this song only seems appropriate:


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More