BANGOR, Maine — After pumping $186,000 into upgrades and new equipment, The Maine Jump is preparing for a grand reopening with new play options for kids and a heavy focus on security.
“On July 23, for the reopening, everything will be different. Nothing will be the same,” said owner Ryan Hatch on Wednesday morning inside the Hogan Road business, which is home to eight different inflatable play areas, including slides and a climbing wall. “It’s like a whole new facility.”
Along with an improved kitchen, wood floors in the dining area, new slides and an obstacle course, the inflatable play haven is now covered by more than 20 high-tech security cameras geared toward ensuring kids’ safety, according to Hatch.
Hatch has installed the cameras incrementally both inside and in the parking lot during the past two months. In all, it cost the company about $19,000, he said.
More than 500,000 people have walked through The Maine Jump’s doors since it opened two years ago, according to Hatch. Keeping tabs on those people — there can be more than 300 kids and adults in the building during a busy time of day — can be a challenge, but is vital to the safety of the children, he said.
“The safety and security of children in this building is priority No. 1, and then comes the very important aspect of ensuring they are having a good, enjoyable time,” Hatch said.
The cameras come with facial recognition software, which can identify a face in the crowd and track that individual as they move around the facility. That could help staff keep an eye on someone suspicious, track customer purchasing habits at the kitchen or even monitor what inflatable rides or games certain children prefer, according to Hatch.
“The precision of these cameras picking up the detail is amazing,” Hatch said.
Hatch can watch the security camera feeds remotely using an application on his cell phone. No one outside the business has access to the security feed, he said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t care where you go, there are cameras everywhere,” Hatch said when asked whether he was concerned that some patrons might see this level of surveillance as an invasion of privacy. “As much as I don’t want my privacy being invaded, this is for the safety of the children here.”
The staff also will use a new bracelet system to make sure kids leave with the adults they come in with and no one else, something The Maine Jump has been careful about since it opened, Hatch said. Children and their parents or guardians will receive matching bracelets when they walk in. Adults who try to leave with a child whose bracelet doesn’t match theirs won’t be allowed to leave, Hatch said.
Debbie Emery of Old Town said she has taken her four children, ages 3, 4, 11 and 12, to The Maine Jump “quite a few times” since it opened. She likes the fact that her kids can have fun and burn energy even if it’s raining or snowing outside.
When asked what she thought of the updated security efforts, Emery said, “I think it’s a great idea, anything they can do to keep everybody safe. … It does put my mind at ease with all those people, especially if the kids are going off in two or four different directions.”
No specific incident sparked the security changes, but Hatch cited two examples where cameras and careful checks at the door proved valuable.
Hatch recalled an incident when, during a busy weekend, a middle-aged man tried to get in without a child. When staff asked him what he was doing there, he claimed he wanted to play arcade games because its arcade was better than the mall’s, but The Maine Jump’s arcade features just three or four games. The man was turned away. Adults are only admitted to The Maine Jump if they’re accompanying a child or are a member of staff, Hatch said.
In another instance, a little girl was playing in the play area when she suddenly hit the floor, unconscious. No one saw the girl fall. Paramedics weren’t sure what happened and wanted to know whether the girl had a seizure, fainted or fell. Maine Jump staff reviewed the recordings and found that another child had run past the girl, accidentally striking her in the head with his elbow and knocking her out, according to Hatch. The video gave medical personnel the information they needed to treat the girl.
Keeping tight security is vital in a place where a high concentration of children are running around having fun, even if their parents are just a few feet away, Hatch said.
The business has remained open during renovations, with the exception of a week in June, but will be closed on Monday, July 22, the day before the grand reopening. Admission rates will not increase.