ALLEN, TEXAS - Even before you see a movie, you might feel like you're in one at Cinemark Allen's newest auditorium.
It's called Camp Cinemark, a first-of-its-kind concept in North Texas, designed specifically for families with young kids. It opened last week.
As soon as you walk in the wilderness-themed auditorium, you'll see a cave kids can climb in. There's also a giant digital screen on which kids can color rotating pictures of animals. If crayons are more their style, you'll find those, too, alongside colorful kid-sized stools.
And that's just in the hallway, before you get to the big screen.
The seating area is geared toward young kids also, complete with colorful giant bean bag chairs up front.
When the lights are dimmed, they stay bright enough to keep an eye on your kids.
"Kids can feel comfortable getting up and walking around, moving around the auditorium, trying out some of the different chairs," said James Meredith, Cinemark's senior vice-president of marketing and communications.
If it sounds like it could get distracting, parents don't seem to mind.
"Awesome. I mean keep them engaged, give them something else to do if they get a little bit antsy," said Robert Marramore, a father of four-year-old twins who tried out Camp Cinemark Tuesday.
"Not to have to go into a movie and say 'Shhh" would be awesome!" said Claire Hardin, who took her five-year-old grandson Jack Conger to the movies Tuesday. "This is an awesome place for kids that are so active, they have a hard time sitting in a movie."
"I think this theater is awesome," said Conger.
Plano-based Cinemark is testing the concept in Allen. If it's successful, they'll consider expanding it at other locations across the country.
"Younger families especially always feel like, 'Well if I bring my young kiddo in, are they going to be disruptive, are they going to create an environment that's going to be uncomfortable?'" said Meredith. "It's about the experience. We're trying to create the best out-of-home experience that we can."
There are some ground rules.
All kids must come with an adult, and no adults can come without kids. It's always manned by a staff member. Only G and PG rated movies play at Camp Cinemark. There is also a family restroom right next door.
The price is the same as other auditoriums in the theater, and you can buy tickets online or in person. You can also rent Camp Cinemark for special events like birthday parties or school groups, and a handful of people have already reserved it, said Meredith.
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