Jungle Gyms are Coming to Some Southern California Theaters – And It’s Not a Bad Idea

It’ll be as good for the kids as it will be for other moviegoers.

Jungle gyms — yes, like in elementary school — will be the latest addition to a couple of movie theaters in southern California in a bid to get parents of young children to come to more movies. Kids running around and screaming during a movie — sounds like a nightmare, right? Believe it or not, it could end up being a win for all involved.

The theater chain behind the idea is Cinépolis. Based in Mexico, the luxury theater chain has locations in its home country, a few other Latin American countries, and in the United States. For a while now, some of those locations in Latin America have seen pilot programs for Cinépolis Junior — theater rooms retrofitted with jungle gyms running along the stairs, with beanbag chairs and other playground goodies closer to the screen. There’s an even a snack bar to help parents keep kids fed during the movie hours.

The concept hasn’t let kids go nuts yet. Up until now, Cinépolis Junior theater rooms have only allowed kids to get up and play before the movie, after the movie, and during a 15-minute intermission. That might change when rooms come to their theaters in Pico Rivera (near Los Angeles) and Vista (near San Diego). The chain is reportedly mulling leaving the house lights on during movies, allowing kids to get up and play at any point during the movie.

Sounds awful, right? If you thought texting and kids without jungle gyms were awful in theaters, this will make things all the worse! Not really. The rooms cost an extra $3 to get into, and not all of the rooms in the theater will be retrofitted into Cinépolis Junior rooms. There’s a lot of beauty here — parents with kids who can’t do a two-hour movie can still take those kids to the theater and keep them entertained, but the unspoken benefit is even better, and should make everyone want this idea to spread to as many theaters as possible as fast as possible.

Those short attention span kids are some of the worst distractions for everyone else at the movies. So, imagine a world in which those kids are effectively quarantined from other moviegoers — you can enjoy your Pixar in peace. Parents of energetic kids have a new way to help their little ones enjoy going to the movies, and everyone else has an extra reason to keep going to the movies. Who knows, the theaters might just see the trend of declining theater attendance turn around (just a little), while getting some of those little ones interested in going to the movies when they get older. I’m looking for a downside, and I just don’t see it.

Via LA Times

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