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What kid doesn't love a jungle?

DALLAS -- Dallas resident Lana Mabry has been watching activity at The Jungle Gym in downtown Dallas for weeks.

Israel Mabry, 3, takes a ride down the inflatable slide at The Jungle Gym Thursday, May 26, as his mom, Lana, checks out the rest of the activities in the now-open indoor playground.

Pete Strong/Itemizer-Observer

Israel Mabry, 3, takes a ride down the inflatable slide at The Jungle Gym Thursday, May 26, as his mom, Lana, checks out the rest of the activities in the now-open indoor playground.

May 31, 2011

DALLAS -- Dallas resident Lana Mabry has been watching activity at The Jungle Gym in downtown Dallas for weeks.

Last Thursday, the new indoor playground's grand opening, her curiosity led her to walk through the doors.

Mabry brought her 3-year-old son, Israel, to try out the new facility.

"I love it," she said. "I think this is great. It is just what Dallas needs -- a place for kids to play inside."

Israel literally hopped from one play area to the next.

"He doesn't know where to start," Mabry said, watching her son play on the bouncy house slide. "There are too many choices."

The Jungle Gym owner Jackie Lawson, who also operates World Gym across the street, said keeping children busy with active and educational activities is the objective of The Jungle Gym.

"That's kind of the hidden agenda -- learning while having fun," she said.

Lawson said when World Gym designed a place for children to wait while their parents worked out, she wanted them to stay active and engaged.

"Television is an absolute last resort," she said. "We felt like there is so much more they could do with their imaginations than sit and watch television."

Lawson carried that philosophy over to The Jungle Gym, which now replaces the gym's child care facility and expands it to include classes and activities intended to inspire creativity, or "imagymation," as Lawson calls it.

The Jungle Gym will offer art classes for children and their parents through the Falls City Arts Center and storytelling accompanied with activities that coincide with story topics, which could include history, science and math. Age appropriate "cooking" and exercise classes are also planned.

"Because we are still part of the World Gym, we want to instill healthy choices and habits and bring exposure to (food) combinations that they haven't thought of before," Lawson said.

The Jungle Gym is also partnering with local business. In one such collaboration, The Jungle Gym and Latitude One will offer "parents' night out" events in which parents can drop their children off at The Jungle Gym while they have dinner.

Lawson said she is pleased with the feedback she has heard -- and especially the reactions of children.

"The kids are so excited that they can't even wait at the counter for their moms to get all the information," she said. "They want to go play."

A Place for Kids to Learn and Squirm

What: The Jungle Gym.

Where: 101 SW Court St., Dallas.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday and Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Wednesday nights and Sundays.

Ages: Toddlers to 11 year olds.

Activities: Bounce houses, Lego room, a zip line, toys, basketball, games and educational classes.

Cost: Per visit -- $8 for one children and $5 for each additional child. Monthly membership packages available, including discounts for party packages and access to World Gym business partner packages.

Of note: Parents must stay with their children, unless at The World Gym or participating in a business partnership. Frozen yogurt and espresso available soon.

For more information: 503-428-5565; www.djsbodyshop/junglegym.