A £2.5m state-of-the-art soft play centre and inflatable theme park that will feature trampolines, bridges and cannons will open this summer.

Major North East-based leisure operator the Fun Shack Group is investing £2.5m in the town and creating up to 80 jobs by taking over the former Wilko unit in Captain Cook Square in Middlesbrough.

The company has already started work on transforming the top floor into one of its Fun Shack indoor play centres.

Darlington and Stockton Times: An inflatable play centre will open this summerAn inflatable play centre will open this summer (Image: FUN SHACK)

Middlesbrough’s Fun Shack – the company’s first in a town or city centre - will boast rope bridges, crawl tunnels and an electronic football pitch, alongside other favourites including trampolines, a cannonball arena, rubber dinghy slides and bumper buggies.

There are also plans for an extensive toddler area for younger children, with separate play frames, a role-play village and a sensory area.

Underneath Fun Shack on the ground floor will become home to InflateSpace, a giant indoor inflatable theme park.

Darlington and Stockton Times: An inflatable park will open in the former Middlesbrough WilkoAn inflatable park will open in the former Middlesbrough Wilko (Image: MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL)

It will feature slides, assault courses, wipeout challenges, bungee ropes and a competitive sports zone.

Fun Shack Group Director, Craig Freeman, said: “We are excited to be able to bring Fun Shack and InflateSpace to Middlesbrough.

“It will be our first ever city centre location and the first inflatable park for the Teesside region.

“Fun Shack and Jump 360 have already proved very popular in the wider region, with our nearby sites in Stockton proving a major hit.

“We know that families are going to be hooked as soon as they see what we have in store with our new centres at Captain Cook Square - especially with some of the brand-new activities we have planned.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: A trampoline park will open in MiddlesbroughA trampoline park will open in Middlesbrough (Image: MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL)

The group opened its first Fun Shack soft play centre in Seaham in 2004, and since then has opened a further three flagship sites in Stockton, Newcastle and Gateshead.

The company has expanded into other family leisure sectors, including the Jump 360 trampoline parks, Clip N Climb climbing centres and InflateSpace inflatable parks – now operating a total of nine sites across the North East.

Cllr Theo Furness, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Regeneration, said: “As a parent of young children, I know just how much kids love places like this and for Fun Shack to choose Middlesbrough as their first town centre location is brilliant.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The facility is expected to open in summerThe facility is expected to open in summer (Image: MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL)

“Families in our area know the brand well and to have it in Captain Cook Square is a real boost.

“Having InflateSpace as part of the package is brilliant too. We need to offer up new and exciting reasons for people to come to our town centre and Fun Shack and Inflate Space alongside the likes of Level X do exactly that.

“Having the future of this unit secured just months after Wilko closed down is hugely positive.”

Fun Shack’s first InflateSpace in Newcastle opened in 2018, being the second of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK.

It is expected Fun Shack and InflateSpace will open in Captain Cook Square this summer.

They will join karting and gaming paradise Level X and e-sports venue The Wired Lobby as the new names at the destination.

This year will also see the opening of Bazaar, a new restaurant concept from Tarek Thoma, owner of The Oven on Linthorpe Road.

American fast-food chain Wendy’s has announced plans to open a branch in Captain Cook Square and talks are ongoing with other parties interested in moving in.

Middlesbrough Council bought Captain Cook Square in 2020 and successfully bid for funds from the Future High Streets Fund to help transform parts of it from a shopping centre into a leisure hub.