I caught my first glimpse of the world's biggest bounce house at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 5.
Almost complete for its weekend debut in Chester Park, the build-team had been at the grounds since 6:30 a.m. inflating and staking the 20,000 square feet of bounce houses that make up Big Bounce America, the Guinness Book of World Records certified structures. They assured me that I could test-jump the two structures shortly. One, the Big Bouncer is a 10,000 square feet bounce-castle bedazzled with a DJ station, blow up palm trees, basketball hoops, and inflatable slides. The other, the bounce village, is a combination of seven individual inflatables: three "ninja runs," two giant slides, and one "lil bouncer," and a ball pit (which, unfortunately, was not ready on Thursday).
The sun had kissed and tarnished the castle walls, making them less vibrant than the photos on Big Bounce America had prompted me to believe, but I made a mental note to lessen my judgement on the castle's aesthetics as the bouncy-castle was still awaiting a shower from the cleaning crew, which would arrive Friday morning.
Before I go on, I'll tell that I once spent the better part of a neighborhood block party exclusively in a bounce house, and am therefore a highly self-qualified judge.
And, having withstood more than one bouncy-castle collapses, I knew that the amount of air pressure in a castle could have a huge impact on the jumper's experience. While it was not inflated to its full pomp — the build team said that the structures would have more air pressure on event days — this house was decently bouncy. When I first pummeled through the ninja runs — three tunnel-like bounce houses filled with obstacles, slides, and climbing walls — it became more taut as the evening progressed. The Big Bouncer itself was on a slight incline, making the lower end firmer than the upper.
Stepping off the structure, the thud of the earth beneath my feet came as a harsh, hard, reality. My Jell-O-like legs no longer had a soft cushion to spring from and my fatigue was beginning to set in. I had endured a decent number of wipe-outs — but did not sustain any bruises, scrapes, or injuries. Craig had mentioned to me that few people last a full hour of bouncing, and I could see why. The bouncer was a calf burner.
There you have it: I tried out the world's biggest bounce house so you wouldn't have to. But, if you're looking for a colorful way to burn some calories (or have young kids you want to tire out) it's worth your while to experience Big Bounce America for yourself. It's only in the area for a limited time, after all. The tickets aren't cheap — $11 for toddlers, $17 for kids (it's $7 extra to get into the bounce village), $21 for adults — so make sure you're energized, enthusiastic, and prepared sweat it out for the full hour before going.
- If you have long hair, tie it up.
- Wear cute socks. Everyone will see them.
- Bring water (and don't forget to drink it).