There are some childhood activities we never truly outgrow. At least, that's what Cameron Craig, cofounder of the Big Bounce America, says.
The Big Bounce America, an all-ages bounce house, was officially inaugurated into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's biggest bounce house on June 30. There are two separate parts to Big Bounce America: There's an inflated, candy-colored castle and a "bounce village," located steps away. The structures include such attractions as a ball pit (and slide), basketball court, obstacle course, lights, confetti, and a DJ. They are a whopping 20,000 square feet (roughly the size of seven tennis courts).
Oh, and it's coming to the Philadelphia area, in Delaware County's Chester Park this weekend.
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Craig says he first contemplated making an adult-friendly bounce house in 2016 while working a music festival in the United Kingdom. The festival had a bounce house of its own, but, not surprisingly, it was exclusively for children. After hours, he recalls sneaking onto the inflatable with a few friends and thinking, "Why not make such a structure so it can be enjoyed by all ages?"
He followed through with this plan, and the Big Bounce America made its debut in Wallington, Ohio, last year.
Big Bounce America held 13 events in 2017 and anticipates a total of 64 by the end of this year. To keep up with demand — they currently hold two events a week — founders unveiled a second "World's Biggest Bounce House" this year. The two houses are identical, says Craig. The additional one adds to the convenience and efficiency of the tour. They have yet to take the structure outside of the United States, though he reveals plans to tour in Canada and the U.K. in upcoming years.
Setup (and blowup) takes a full day and a minimum of 10 people, with chores ranging from mapping out the grounds to staking the house into the ground. The actual inflation process, which relies on 22-horsepower blowers, takes a mere 20 minutes.
The event is postponed in threatening weather, such as harsh winds or thunderstorms, but still operates in light rain. Craig says, "if you want to go in the rain, you're welcome to, but you should bring extra socks with you. If not, you can get a refund. The kids are generally pretty happy to go in the rain — adults, not so much."
A build crew repairs any tears and punctures on sight, and the company hires local power-washing and cleaning companies to sanitize the structure at each location.
Tickets are sold by age-group — including adults only sessions — for hour-long sessions (although parents can accompany children, they just need to buy their own ticket). The DJ tailors music to the ages accordingly. The sessions are capped at 180 people.
Craig says many people worry that an hour will be too short of a time — until they start jumping.
"Very few people last a full hour. It's very interactive. It's a workout," says Craig.
The house offers children and families something that many other new-age activities, such as video games and electronic gadgets, neglect: outdoor socialization.