CRYSTAL LAKE – Having kids bouncing off the walls is key to the success of a new business in the Crystal Court shopping center.
Mega Trampoline, an independently-owned family entertainment center, opens Friday. The facility combined four units, taking up 35,000 square feet of space in the underused commercial center at 5593 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.
More than a third of the space is filled with interconnected trampolines, including two trampoline basketball courts, a trampoline dodge ball court, and free-style jump court. It also has paintball, arcade games, a custom-built inflatable obstacle course, a café and lounge, and dedicated party rooms. It plans to add tactical laser tag in September, Manager Mandeep Sidhu said.
"There's no other park like this in North America," Co-manager Vikas Sharma said.
"We wanted to have everything under one roof," Sidhu said.
Sidhu and Sharma visited 22 trampoline parks in the U.S. before leasing space in Crystal Lake.
"We learned what not to do, what was working, and why it was working," Sidhu said.
Backers put about $1.2 million into the venture, which took more than a year to complete. This week, workers were installing trampolines, platforms, and double-checking safety features ahead of the opening.
Trampoline parks are springing up across the country, but remain a "minuscule" part of the larger amusement industry, said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based management and consulting firm.
Trampoline parks flourished in the 1950s and 1960s, but were largely washed out by liability concerns. The popularity of extreme sports along with low costs have helped revive interest in the parks, Speigel said.
"It's relatively easy to get into," he said. "But there are still significant insurance and liability issues that could be a hindrance."
Safety standards have changed in recent decades, Sidhu said.
"This is so advanced compared to the 1960s," he said. "We've followed very specific regulations to build this."
Industry regulations added about 30 percent to the cost of construction, but Sharma said it was well worth it for the safety of the community.
"Our kids come here, too," he said.
The facility has rules designed to prevent injuries. Jumpers must wear grip socks and only one jumper is allowed on a trampoline at a time. A team of employees monitor the jumpers.
"The last thing we want is an injury," Sidhu said.
The managers want to add programs and events in the coming months. Organizing a dodgeball league and aerobics classes are among the plans.
"It's insane exercise," Sidhu said. "Jumping burns about 1,000 calories per hour."
At other trampoline parks, Sidhu and Sharma said they saw children start to look for something else to do after an hour of jumping. Mega Trampoline's other features – inflatables, arcade games, paintball, and laser tag – broaden its appeal and serve as a hedge against boredom.
For parents, Mega Trampoline will have free Wi-Fi, 10 flat-screen TVs, and a lounge area.
The business will employ about 36 people.
One hour of jumping will cost $10 under special introductory prices. The managers are promoting $15 per person Mega Fridays and Mega Saturdays, which include three hours of jumping, a slice of pizza, a drink, and music from a DJ.
Mega Trampoline could bring some youthful energy to the largely vacant Crystal Court shopping center. Redeveloping the center, which has become blighted since its anchor tenant left years ago, has been a priority for the city of Crystal Lake, officials have said.
Sidhu and Sharma said they hope to draw visitors from throughout the region and aren't counting on a new anchor tenant for the success of the business.
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About Mega Trampoline
What: An independent, 35,000-square-foot family entertainment center with an indoor trampoline park, laser tag, paintball, arcade games, and a custom-built inflatable obstacle course
Where: 5593 Route 14, Crystal Lake
Information: Call 779-220-4347 or visit http://megatrampoline.com