Up, Up & Play – an indoor playground and learning center – quietly opened to the public yesterday at 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., above the Down & Over Pub.
"I wanted to work out the kinks this week," says owner and Bay View resident, Shannon Knapp.
The space, which is not connected to the bar and music venue downstairs, is massive. So far, it contains a climbing / swinging structure and a play space for toys and floor puzzles, but the best part is the large amount of space that is, well, just space.
Half of the wood floor contains nothing, making it ideal for anything. There are also wooden carts on wheels that kids can roll around in and soon, Knapp plans to tape down hopscotch and four square games.
The absence of excess and lack of toys that require batteries is exactly why Melanie Roepke plans to spend a lot of time in the facility with her 3-year-old and 7-year-old – especially on rainy or wintry days.
"They’re running around and climbing instead of sitting around, playing with toys," says Roepke. "And there are no Barbies."
Roepke says as much as she enjoys taking her children to the library, it’s nice to have an alternative to the library.
Also, it’s close to her home.
"There are other places to play, but they’re so far away. Coming here means no one will fall asleep in the car on the way home. Because you really can’t have them fall asleep in the car on the way home or forget the nap," says Roepke.
Up, Up & Play is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Knapp is considering opening earlier some days to accommodate play time before school. It’s a rigorous schedule for Knapp, who also has five children including an infant.
"I have three teenagers to help me out, luckily," she says.
The cost is $5 per person per day. Guests can stay as long as they want. Knapp will also barter for day passes or memberships.
"One mom is doing a web site for me right now in exchange for a membership for her daughter," she says.
A rummage sale is currently in progress in the space and will go on all this week. The proceeds go toward buying more supplies for the facility.
The space is ideal for children 5 and under. In the near future, Knapp plans to have classes and activities for older kids, too, including sign language, sewing and art.
"My goal is that everyone who comes here has a really great time," says Knapp. "I want everyone, regardless of age, to engage."
Watch the Up, Up & Play Facebook page for more information and spontaneous deals on admission.
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