Out of the Box Playland

Out of the Box Playland Grand Opening | October 2016

By Maria Landry

At Kelly and Greg Smith’s new sensory gym in Skowhegan, a crayon-themed bouncy house beckons lively youngsters, a pool-noodle forest grows out of the ceiling, a theater room features costumes, music, and a strobe light, and a private room for birthday parties is made truly magical by a visit from characters including Frozen’s Olaf and PAW Patrol’s Chase.

Open since Sept. 15, Out of the Box Playland will have its grand-opening celebration this Saturday, Oct. 29, at its 48 South Factory Street location.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10 a.m., and the playland will be open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. In honor of the grand opening, admission will be reduced to only $8 per child for the entire day. Characters including Chase, Doc McStuffins, princesses, and Spider-Man will be on hand, ready to pose with children for a fun photo. The Smiths also promise cookie decorating.

The playland came about when Kelly Smith decided to make a change from running local daycare Miss Kelly’s Learning Loft, which she closed in June.

“We talked about doing apartments, and that was kind of boring,” she said. “We wanted to be able to do something for the kids in the community.”

Greg Smith added that the couple’s adult daughter, Erin, helped push them in the direction of opening the playland. “She saw the need, because everybody’s got to travel to either Bangor or Waterville [for a sensory gym],” he said.

“We also realized that there’s no place around to do birthdays for little ones,” Kelly said. “We just wanted to stay focused on the kids in the community and all the surrounding towns.”

In a few short months they renovated and expanded the former doctor’s office on South Factory Street, going through 37 gallons of paint, among other materials, to transform it into a child’s playtime fantasyland.

Kelly said she got many of the ideas for the activities, including the “forest” made out of foam pool noodles, from Erin, who also works at the playland, and from the Smiths’ daughters-in-law.

“When we had the daycare, I used to rent a bouncy house once or twice a year, and the kids loved it,” Kelly said. “From having the daycare for eight years you just kind of know what kids like.”

In addition to more energetic activities like a ball pit, sand box, and teeter-totter, Out of the Box features a quiet room where kids can read or listen to audiobooks, play with blocks or Legos, and guess what objects are in the “mystery box” by touch.

There is plenty to keep children happily busy, but the Smiths are already working on a new room they’ve dubbed Main Street. Slated to be ready by the end of the year, it will include kid-sized replicas of typical Main Street locales including a fire station and a beauty salon.

Out of the Box is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Rates are $8 per child for one hour, $14 for two hours, or $18 for three hours; parents and guardians are free.

Gift certificates, punch cards, and monthly and annual memberships are available, and Out of the Box often features promotions on their Facebook page.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a fun place—and safe,” Kelly said. “Hopefully it will keep them entertained.”

For more information, visit Out of the Box on Facebook or call 207-474-9100.