Why would one set of people, or one country call them bouncy houses, another call them bouncy castles and the industry call it moonwalking? It is an interesting question, is it not, if you know what I am talking about. In fact, I mean those large inflatable children's playthings that you see at church fetes and some children's parties.
In America, where they were thought of in the Sixties by John Scurlock of Louisiana. Like many inventions, the notion came to him by accident. Scurlock was an engineer experimenting with inflatable roofs for tennis courts and garages and one day he saw that a couple of of his employees were having great fun bouncing around on an inflated roof that was laying on the ground.
He had an notion and eleven years later, in 1968, his wife, Francis, was running the first bouncy house rental firm in the world. Eight years later, he opened the world's first dedicated bouncy house factory and ten years later again, their son, Frank, opened the world's first fun park devoted to only inflatable toys called Fun Factory.
Lots more followed. Frank also took the bouncy house distribution and rental network nationwide. At first these inflatable toys did not have sides or a top, but this caused a couple of minor difficulties in that kids bounced off the deck onto the grass (or concrete) and the bouncing children were sometimes exposed to the full force of the sun, which put them art risk of exhaustion.
The current most well-liked bouncy house design of three inflatable walls and an inflatable roof came to pass fairly soon after the issues were identified. In fact there are variations on the solutions that were found. In the USA, the sides of the moonwalk are mostly made of netting supported by inflatable columns, whereas in the UK often three of the sides are inflatable. Supervision is carried out from the front of the bouncy house.
These inflatable bouncy houses are mostly made of reinforced PVC, nylon or vinyl and the whole structure is filled with gas, which gives more support than air. A proper bouncy house is continually being pumped up by a fan or two so that minor punctures do not have an effect on the pleasure of the kids.
Cheaper versions that are blown up once and left, a bit like a lido or airbed, are forbidden to be rented out in the USA and the UK although they can be employed for private parties at home.
Most Western countries have organizations in place that regulate businesses that seek to manufacture or rent out bouncy houses. This is good for safety reasons, so if you are thinking of buying or hiring a bouncy house or bouncy castle for one of your parties, find out the name of the regulatory body first and check whether the firm you like is registered.
In the USA and the UK, the names of the firms and their products are listed on the web site so that you can check quite quickly.
Oh, and why bouncy houses, bouncy castles and moonwalking? America has never had any castles and walking on the airbed feels as if you are walking with reduced gravity.
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