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As a kid, there is nothing better than the thrill of running up to your friend’s backyard birthday party and soaking in the plastic, roaring, inflated greatness that is a bounce house. Whether you called it a “Moon Bounce”, “Jumpy House”, “Astrojump”, or a “Bouncies”- birthday parties, school field days, and local festivals were not complete with this iconic inflated attraction. 

Our first look at bounce houses came from engineer John Scurlock who worked for NASA and helped develop safety air cushions for stunt performers and fire brigades across the country in 1958. He noticed his employees having a little too much fun during their break period on one of his inflatable mats and had an idea- why not make them for kids to play on?

Today, these inflatables have been remastered into a number of fun, inviting designs- a two story beach themed water slide, an “American Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course, and ball pits that many a toddler has been lost in. They’ve even become a fun add-on for weddings too, swapping their signature bright primary color scheme for something more neutral and white, adorned with flowers or balloons. 

The design behind these structures is quite an impressive feat. It melds the creative needs for aesthetic design with the complexities of material engineering and air control. Usually composed of vinyl, nylon, or thick PVC, these castles have to compress small enough to be easily transportable and blow up to great shapes in the matter of minutes. The key to keeping this whole show afloat is a surprising one- constant leakage. Bounce houses actually rely on allowing air to flow in AND out of the material to maintain its constant, taught bouncing pressure. Cool, right?

For decades, this melding of design and function have allowed for fun to be ahead for millions of kids and parents alike. 

Bounce House History
Bounce House Inventors

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