- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Just how much fun is a tiny indoor roller coaster? If you are a small child, it's a blast. Your head snaps, your body lurches around, your stomach flies up and down.
If you're an adult rider on the five-car Python Pit at Jeepers well, it's still a blast. "Everybody loves that roller coaster," says Murad Saah, the park's assistant manager. "We can't run the park without the Pit."
The Pit isn't the only thing that thrills children and their parents at Jeepers, an indoor amusement park in Rockville. The 27,000-square-foot space houses rides, arcade games, a soft play structure, a toddler area that includes a sandbox, and a snack bar.
The four rides offered at Jeepers (a fifth, the Banana Squadron, is closed indefinitely) will appeal to younger and older children and to all who are young at heart. Each ride takes two to three admission tickets, which can be purchased individually or as part of a package.
If customers can be dragged away from the roller coaster, they can move on to the Jungle Patrol, a ride aimed at smaller children that consists of little jeeps that chug around a track. Modern bumper cars attract older children, who ride solo. The Monkey Mayhem ride features enormous spinning barrels with seats inside that comfortably accommodate a family of four.
Michelle Cline of Gaithersburg calls Jeepers "a nice place to be when you have three kids" daughters Rachel, 5, Sarah, 2, and Julia, 18 months. Mrs. Cline and her husband, David, bring the girls to Jeepers when it's cold, she says, "and they need to get their energy out."
Mrs. Cline says the park is a bargain for her family. "It's free to walk in unless you want to ride the rides or do the arcade stuff and my kids don't. They like the tunnels."
Indeed, the soft play land is a hit for children ages 3 or so and older. (Smaller children may have trouble hoisting themselves up into the structure and could find the slides a bit too slippery.) Think McDonald's Playland times four, minus the ball pit.
Little children will enjoy digging around in the sandbox or tussling over the seats in the large fire-engine-like structure in the toddler area.
Tanya Tyler, who lives in Northwest, says she has visited three or four times with her 18-month-old son, Andrew, and 4-year-old nephew, Kendall. She says she uses her visits as a way to allow the children to expend excess energy. "It's gotten too cold to take them to the playground," she says. "It kills time when Kendall's bored" and can't go out. Kendall looks anything but bored as he putts around at the wheel of a pint-size jeep.
The arcade gallery's attractions range from high-test driving contests to toddler-friendly ball-rolling games all accessible at a cost of one or two tokens. Many of the machines spit out coupons as players rack up points. Customers may redeem the coupons for prizes, mostly restricted to the goody-bag variety.
A word of caution: The line to redeem coupons gets long really long and it is not a good place to be when you are carrying overtired children who have reached their fun limit. It might be helpful to restrict coupon-redemption activities to midway through the visit, when tempers are even and children and parents still are fresh.
The fun can last for hours. Mr. Saah, who calls Jeepers an "indoor carnival," says he has worked in many children's attractions, "and there's nothing like this."
He continues: "With this kind of park, the families are more oriented toward the kids. At Chuck E. Cheese, for example, you can just send the kids off to play, and you can sit back and eat pizza. But Jeepers is so big a child can get lost in here. So the parents go with the children and play with them, and they all have a good time."


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