By Bethany Parker
Looking for something different to do this past weekend to kick off the second week of our three-week spring break – we are Barkstall folks and this is one of our long breaks that requires serious planning and a lot of deep breathing – I temporarily shelved my usual parental sanity and took all three of my gangsters to Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Plainfield, Indiana. There are several of these places in the Indy area – I chose the one that I thought that fit best into our overall weekend traveling plans. It wasn’t hard to get to, but I was glad that I had printed out the directions and wasn’t trying to follow GPS directions.
Before I get down to the business of what all went down I will skip to the very end and say that this place is big, loud and there are more trampolines than one can shake the proverbial stick at. It was worth it, even though the crowd almost made me cry at least twice. But let’s do this in an orderly fashion.
We visited at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon during Spring Break. Obviously, I was asking for trouble. It was some sort of trifecta of mayhem, and on top of that there were two birthday party rooms full of kids. Clearly my planning skills are now in question. Thankfully I had at least enough sense to purchase tickets online ahead of time, otherwise we would have had to wait 45 minutes for a jump time, and after the 2 hour ride to get there, this would probably not have gone over terribly well. It took about 10 minutes to get checked in, get our Sky Socks, which are the required grippy socks for use on the trampolines, and then all we had to do was get to the business of jumping.
The tickets were marked with letters, my younger two had the letter “B” on theirs, my teenager the letter “C”. The trampolines are roughly sectioned by these letters, which correspond with the age of the ticket holder. This way, you don’t have a burly 16-year-old jumping on top of a delicate 4-year-old. It works. I chose not to jump this time but I will not make that mistake should we make a return visit.
It took my easily overwhelmed 10-year-old a while to figure things out. It was incredibly crowded and he was intimidated by the sheer volume of people, the noise and his need to learn about every inch of his surroundings. Once the crowd thinned out a bit, he calmed down and found his space – the giant foam pit and then the slam dunk basketball hoops. The 8-year-old spent a lot of time on the regular trampoline courts, jumping and flipping and running around.
My 15-year-old played trampoline dodgeball for two solid hours. He did this nonstop, only rotating off the mat when forced off by the trampoline guard for some sort of break or restructuring of the game. He loved every second of it and I ask you this – how often you find something that your 15-year-old loves for two solid hours, something that he doesn’t complain about and even asks if you can do again at some point? I thought not.
This is not a place for the faint of heart, helicopter parents worried about their kids getting hurt or elbowed out by another kid, or someone who wants to take lots of pictures. It’s just not that kind of place. It’s loud. This is a place for playing hard, getting really, really sweaty and going back for more. It was a great choice for the wide age span and varying abilities and interest of my three kids.
If you go:
- Buy your tickets online if at all possible. Jump times are sold by the half hour, hour, 90 minutes of two hour slots. If the time slot is full when you arrive and you don’t have a ticket, you have to wait until the next open time, which could be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Fill out your liability waivers ahead of time as well. If you forget to do this, there are computers available to do so when you arrive, but it’s so much faster to get this all done in advance.
- Wear very comfortable clothes, like athletic pants and a t-shirt, and don’t expect to change there – the bathroom isn’t a changing your clothes sort of place.
- There’s a snack bar with relatively reasonable prices, and no outside food allowed. We did sneak in a few apples before I noticed that sign.
- There’s seating for those not jumping – a few tables and chairs and metal bleachers – but not a lot. If you’re not planning to jump, be prepared to share your personal space.
- Bring a few quarters for the lockers where you will want to stash your shoes.
- Photos are allowed, but it’s not the best lighting nor is there a lot of space to do so.
- There are safety guards at each area to keep things under control, and areas are divided by size and age. It works, you just have to trust it.
- This is a super high energy event. Be prepared for whatever happens to your children after such things.
- Bring food to eat as you leave. Your children will be so hungry that they will try to convince you that they are actually digesting their own stomachs.
Bethany Parker, a frequent contributor to Chambanamoms.com, is mom to the three wilds who, despite all of their recent growing up, still manage to leave Legos where she steps on them barefoot, marbles in their pants pockets and various food wrappers on the floor of the car.