LATHROP – Janice Bowlin wanted to create a safe, family-friendly environment where kids – small and tall – could literally bounce of the walls.
Nearly eight years later, Go Bananas, with its swinging monkey motif, is still king of the jungle.
The recipe for success is really quite simple, Bowlin says. No one can resist the inflatable slides, obstacle courses and jumpers that populate the 10,000-square-foot facility on Murphy Parkway.
Along with the inflatable attractions, Go Bananas also features a snack bar, billiards, air hockey and a private room for parties.
With its youthful charm and slip-soaring adventure, the facility has a way of peeling back even the thickest of layers, whether it’s a shy child, stubborn teenager or an “I really shouldn’t”-type adult.
“The first word when people walk through the doors is ‘Wow,’ ” Bowlin said. “We get that a lot.”
And to the satisfaction of many, those doors will remain open through the Presidents Day holiday.
In true Go Bananas tradition, the indoor amusement center is opening its doors on Monday for Presidents Day. Go Bananas is typically closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except on holidays during the school year.
Bowlin understands just how difficult it can be to entertain a child or several during a day off from school. Parks aren’t always safe or clean. The weather doesn’t always cooperate. And the house can become cumbersome and cramped – not to mention chock-full of breakables.
None of those apply at Go Bananas, which also features outdoor water slides in the summer (June to August) and special guests and/or movies on Friday evenings at no additional charge.
Jack the Magician performed for guests on Friday. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have RSVP’d for later dates.
“When kids are out of school, we try to be open,” Bowlin said. “When we’re open on a Monday or a Tuesday, the parents walk in like ‘Thank god, you guys are open.’ ”
Bowlin and her husband opened Go Bananas in October of 2006 because they were those very desperate parents.
The two wanted a safe, clean environment to play with their then 2-year-old granddaughter.
Go Bananas quickly became a place of refuge and excitement for families all across Northern California. Bowlin says they have regular visitors from San Francisco, Sacramento and Mother Lode, as well as the local patrons.
There is a natural schoolyard appeal, Bowlin says, as children seek out other children to play with.
But the most indelible moments are those shared between parent and child.
“They get to go crazy and play and have a blast with other kids. Sometimes, they bring their friends in,” she said. But “it’s a great opportunity for parents to play with their kids. Kids love their parents and they love to play with their parents, so when they come it’s all about the kids.”
Go Bananas will be open Saturday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility is located at 17918 Murphy Parkway in Lathrop.
“There was a huge need in the community for this,” Bowlin said. “I think they just enjoy a family environment. We just like to have fun.”