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Trampolines will be the scene at new Fort Wayne business

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Sky Zone
What: An indoor trampoline park
When: Opens May 1. Initial hours will be 3-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; noon-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays. The hours will be extended in the summer.
Where: 401 Fernhill Ave.
Cost: $10 for a 30-minute jump; $13 for an hour; $18 for 90 minutes; and $20 for two hours.
Etc.: Two after-hours specials are planned for youths. SkyMania will be 9-11 p.m. every Friday night for ages 10-15 and SkyJam is 10 p.m.-midnight every Saturday for ages 16 and older. The deal includes 90 minutes of jump time, two slices of pizza and a pop for $18.
Online: To see a video of people playing in a Sky Zone, go to www.skyzonesports.com and click on the Sky Zone Highlight Video.

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 12:01 am

Something new, fun and very big — as in, 25,000-square-feet big — is about to open in Fort Wayne.

Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, is supposed to open May 1.

And when it opens, people of all ages will be able to jump, flip, soar, hop, play dodge ball and slam dunk basketballs in one of five areas. The largest area, the main court, consists of 42 trampolines side by side, surrounded by another 18 trampolines tilted up at an angle, so people can literally bounce off the walls.

Two dodge ball courts are smaller, and set up for dodge ball games. Another area, the SkySlam, has trampolines and three basketball hoops of varying heights, so people can hop and slam dunk to their heart's content. In another area people can jump off trampolines into a huge pit full of 9,000 foam blocks.

This isn't the first trampoline park; Sky Zone is a franchised business headquartered in California. Currently there are 33 Sky Zones, with more to come. This one will be at 401 Fernhill Ave., in a former warehouse just across the street from the Canlon Ice Sports ice-skating arena and the SportOne/Parkview Fieldhouse.

Carrie Snyder is one of the owners and the general manager of Sky Zone. A mother of four, she had her first experience at a Sky Zone in Fishers more than a year ago, and had a blast with her kids. “I love that it was active fun,” she said.

After experiencing Sky Zone she set about making it happen in Fort Wayne. “I've always wanted to own my own business,” she said.

“They originally told me Fort Wayne was too small,” said Snyder, who has been pursuing this since February 2012. Eventually that opinion changed and she set about looking for a facility that had high enough ceilings and could accommodate 13,643 square feet of trampolines.

The Fernhill location, with its proximity to the ice-skating rink and the fieldhouse, seemed like a natural fit.

In addition to the huge trampoline room the facility will have a concession stand, parent observation area and three rooms for private parties.

As Snyder explained it, once Sky Zone opens those who want to go should reserve a time online beforehand. Otherwise, drop-ins may not be able to play if Sky Zone is at capacity. The fee can be paid online or at the facility. Waivers are required to be filled out and signed, with parents signing for youths.

At check-in you'll get a sticker that indicates your jump time and you'll rent a pair of shoes, which are included in the price. Snyder described them as similar to wrestling shoes, but with tread. The shoes are available up to men's size 13. If your feet are bigger than that you can jump barefoot, but never in socks, which are too slippery. However, be sure to wear socks with the rented shoes.

Before you're turned loose on the trampolines you go to a staging area, where a court monitor gives a safety speech. Court monitors also monitor play inside the courts. “We do our best to mitigate the risk of injury,” Snyder said. “We say, 'don't jump outside your ability.'”

She added that if somebody is really misbehaving, they may be asked to leave.

It's an activity suited for almost all ages. “We say, if you can walk, you can jump,” Snyder said. Toddler times are planned for children who are walking through age 6, although they haven't set the times yet. The cost will be $8 for parent and child.

In addition to free play, she hopes to start SkyRobics classes, which she tried recently at another Sky Zone facility. “I love the no-impact part of it myself,” she said.

Snyder expects to hire 90 part-time employees to run Sky Zone. On Thursday the building was full of workers dry walling and painting. The trampolines were still covered by plastic.

Interest in the novel new attraction has been keen. “Our Facebook (page) has exploded in Fort Wayne,” Snyder said. “I think Fort Wayne is excited about it.”