Jumping for joy

A special advertising section

 
 

Patti Minglin

Remember when you were a kid and first stepped inside a moon bounce or bounce house? The excitement you felt as your feet landed on the soft, squishy floor and the freedom that came from jumping as high as you had every jumped can never quite be replicated. Today's bounce houses have gone to the extreme and places such as Jump!Zone, Monkey Joe's, PartyTime and Pump It Up are giving kids of all ages the opportunity to bounce through rooms filled with themed-inflatables that jump the birthday party celebration to an entirely new level.

"Kids get to run, jump, and slide all over the place," says Davora Sides of Pump It Up. "Who doesn't love that?" Not many kids would balk at the chance to have free reign in a party area where fun obstacles and challenges abound and their playground is literally a room filled with soft, bouncy surfaces and parents love the idea of letting kids be kids in a location other than their own home or yard. While most inflatable party locations offer packages that include party rooms, dedicated party hosts and even snacks and drinks, there are numerous ways you can make the most of your party experience:

Safety First

Although the floors and walls are soft, safety is still a primary issue when it comes to having an inflatable party. At Pump It Up, guests are shown a brief safety video before the party begins that clearly outlines all the rules of play. And at Jump!Zone, those rules are reinforced throughout the party. "As kids tend to have a short memory span, we train each of our staff members to remind our young guests the importance of the rules throughout the party in case they forget, " says Scott Soeder of Jump!Zone. Make sure parents of all your guests are informed of the rules as well-even if that means asking them to stay during the beginning of the party as the rules are being explained.

Be Date Flexible

As with most birthday party locations, inflatable parties fill up fast especially during the key weekend hours, so be sure and book your party at least 4 to 6 weeks ahead of your intended date. In addition, ask if there are any 'off hour' party times. Pump It Up offers "Early Bird" (Sat/Sun 9AM), "Late Night" (Sat 7:45 or later and Sun 7 PM or later) and weekday party options.

Personalize It

Don't miss the opportunity to make your party unique and shining the spotlight on the party boy or girl. At Monkey Joe's, the birthday party kid gets a sticker to let everyone know it is his or her birthday along with the opportunity to sit in an "awesome birthday chair" and have a poster signed by all the guests. Also, if you have a separate party room available where you can serve food and open presents, ask if you can bring in your own items. "Parents can bring in their own custom birthday cake as well as their own paper plates and decorations," says Soeder. And some parents have taken the decorations to the extreme. "We had a jungle-themed party where the mom packed the party room with inflatable animals, trees, etc. It was amazing," says Sides.

Ask for the Upgrade

At Pump It Up, almost any traditional party package can be upgraded to include pizza, drinks, goodie bags and balloons. Monkey Joe's will actually offer you a variety of 'themed' paper plates, napkins and cups. And, PartyTime Palace in Des Plaines allows you to order balloons or piñatas directly from them and has an amazing selection of food options that includes kosher pizza, spaghetti, nachos and salads. Although most upgrades will cost you a little extra, they will save you tons of time and planning. In addition, be sure and ask if the location of your party has any partnerships with outside vendors such as pizza restaurants or ice cream parlors. If they do, they will often have discounts available if you purchase food for your party.

Make the Memories Last

No party is complete without a great parting gift for your guests. While many locations offer gift bag options, you can also use this as an opportunity to add yet another personal touch to the party. Give guests water bottles with their names or gift bags filled with things that will remind them of the birthday party boy or girl. And, for a final reminder of the fun, take pictures of the kids as they are jumping for joy during the party and send photos to them with the thank you card.

Inflatable parties are a great one-stop shop for the perfect birthday celebration-for kids of all ages. With just a little advance planning (and remembering to ask the right questions), your next birthday party experience will have even you jumping for joy!

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