The 10 Best Bounce Houses
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Inflatable bounce houses have become mainstays at fairs and festivals around the world due to their widespread appeal among children, and now one can be a fixture in your own backyard. Our comprehensive selection of different sizes for toddlers, grade-schoolers, and families with multiple kids. Some include extra features like splash pools, slides, ball pits, and basketball hoops. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 08, 2020:
Remember to always keep an eye on your children when they are jumping away in their inflatable worlds. We've added four new items during this update, starting with one that does double duty as a water slide and splash pad: the Rocky Mountain River Race. Another newcomer is the Action Air Playhouse, which has a cute, homey design plus fun bells and whistles. On the smaller side, the affordable Intex Jump-O-Lene is well-suited to younger tots; on the larger side, the Blast Zone Big Ol Bouncer can handle a small gaggle of kids.
We've also made updates to the information on several listings, including the Little Tikes Jump 'n Slide, the Blast Zone Inflatable Magic Castle, and the Island Hopper Sports & Hops Recreational. We've removed a couple of items that are no longer available, the Inflatable HQ Commercial Grade and the Blast Zone Ultra Croc Huge. The KidWise Arc Arena II Sport is gone from the list because its price was at the top end of our selections and its ratings were at the low end.
Finally, we've added three big new playhouses to our Special Honors section that are sure to delight any child.
December 13, 2019:
Given how important safety is in a category like this, it was important to us that we find models with good material construction, and that we point out any deficiencies that could cause structural decay for certain models, particularly when their weight capacities are pushed to the limit. That said, the only real turnover to speak of came in the form of an upgrade to the Blast Zone Crocodile Isle, as the company has replaced it with the Blast Zone Ultra Croc Huge. This new model replaces the rock wall with a more angled rear-facing climbing surface for kids to access the slides. Not only is that a slightly safer design, it also serves to open up the space for an additional slide running down the center of the play area.
Most of these devices employ PVC or an industrial-grade nylon in their construction, which can get very hot in the sun, so models with canopies or water flows might be a good idea if you intend to use it outdoors, especially in the summer. There are dedicated inflatable water parks for these uses, as well.
HeroKiddo Tropical Breeze Large enough to accommodate eight children inside, this model still only weighs 130 pounds when deflated and requires just two adults to move it and set it up. Its green color scheme sets it apart in a category that's dominated by primary colors, and its big mesh windows, elevated slide, and splash pool make it a hit with kids. herokiddo.com
JumpOrange Jaguar Large Towering 25 feet high, this jungle-themed jumper has a massive slide that looks like a river, four palm trees, and a spotted panther curled around it all. Overhead netting at the top of the stairs prevents kids from leaping off the sides or back of the structure. jumporange.com
Duralite Octopus With a giant purple sea creature crawling on top of its roof, this playhouse is a real showstopper. It's made of a lightweight, commercial vinyl that is half as heavy as traditional vinyl without sacrificing any of its durability or strength. It has large mesh windows, a side entrance, and a slide into a splash pool with bumpers. wayfair.com
Jump For The Joys Of A Bounce House
Birthday cakes, clowns, sunny weather, music, presents, and hopefully a lot of fun.
When you think of a child's birthday party, what types of iconic imagery come to mind? Birthday cakes, clowns, sunny weather, music, presents, and hopefully a lot of fun.
It's a safe bet that if you think back on some of these childhood parties, some of the images that come to mind include the great time you experienced with your friends, the games you played, and the structures that may have been present for you all to play on. One of these structures was probably a bounce house (or inflatable castle).
With the invention of so many high-tech gadgets like video games, cell phones, and a host of other electronic toys, you might think it would be increasingly difficult to get your kids outside in the fresh air to jump up and down on one of these nostalgic structures, but kids are imaginative and there's still something to be said about good, old-fashioned playtime without all the buttons and flashy screens.
Now, you can certainly rent one of these bounce houses, but if it's something unique that is relatively easy to keep inflated and an experience that your kids can enjoy over and over, then why not purchase one to own instead?
As the name suggests, a bounce house is a temporary inflatable structure that is often designed with themes, bright colors, and shapes like elaborate buildings or castles. The exterior surfaces of most bounce houses are constructed from durable Polyvinyl chloride, vinyl, or nylon materials and are typically inflated using an electric fan or blower.
Regardless of the materials used for the bounce house, its seams feature small pores that will naturally leak air as children play on it, so the electric fan operates continuously to blow fresh air into the structure to keep it inflated. Most bounce houses are supported by inflatable columns and offer strong net enclosures on three sides for close supervision of your children as they play.
Bounce houses provide several benefits. For one thing, they're actually healthy for growing kids to play on. With each jump, a child improves his or her cardio fitness level. Jumping also helps to increase bone density, while developing growing muscles, joints, and ligaments. The act of jumping also increases a child's metabolism, so if they have a tendency to be on the lazy side during the summer months, using a bounce house can be a great way to lose some excess weight. This type of structure can also be of excellent therapeutic benefit to kids with certain sensory impairments.
In addition to the benefit of exercise, bounce houses also provide a means for themed games and activities. Some are designed in the shape of jungles, basketball courts, or boxing rings with various markers and tasks to be accomplished from inside. Such activities and challenges can include tug of war and racing among others.
A Brief History Of Bounce Houses
Inspired by watching his own employees jump up and down on inflatable tennis court covers, mechanical engineer John Scurlock was responsible for inventing the very first inflatable play structure in 1959. Scurlock eventually built an array of inflatable tents and domes, and he also pioneered the design of the safety air cushions used by modern fire departments for catching people forced to jump from high places.
However, this problem was eventually resolved with the addition of walls and circulating air.
Scurlock's continued fascination with his employees' sense of fun eventually led him to start a company in New Orleans called Space Walks, where he further perfected the concept of the bounce house. As such bounce houses simulated a feeling of near weightlessness, they were sometimes referred to as moonwalks.
In 1968, Scurlock's wife Frances founded the first inflatable rental company and by 1976, the couple opened up a manufacturing facility to produce and rent the products out, while also promoting them for children's birthday parties, fairs, and picnics among other events. The only problem with some of the early inflatables was that they lacked an enclosure.
As one might expect, this created a potential safety hazard. Many of them also had a tendency to overheat. However, this problem was eventually resolved with the addition of walls and circulating air. Frank Scurlock (son of John and Frances) also set up his own rental concept using the names Space Walk and Inflatable Zoo and by the mid-1980s, he created the first indoor inflatable play park called the Fun Factory. A year later in 1987, he opened a second location called Fun Plex.
By the 1990s, Frank Scurlock developed the first inflatable water slide called the Aqua Tunnel. Both the bounce house and inflatable water slides are still popular today.
Walking On Air
Since safety is of the utmost concern when investing in a bounce house, one must be certain to find a structure with a sturdy enclosure and durable netting, which will make it easy to keep track of your little ones as they play. Mesh walls and netting not only improve your visibility, but the material also helps to maximize airflow from within the bounce house itself.
Industrial-strength PVC material is recommended as it can withstand a heavy amount of activity from multiple little jumpers without tearing.
If your kids love sports themes, definitely look for a versatile bounce house that offers activities besides simple jumping up and down (i.e. soccer goals or basketball hoops).
Bounce house materials should always be durable and relatively easy to keep clean. Industrial-strength PVC material is recommended as it can withstand a heavy amount of activity from multiple little jumpers without tearing.
Finally, one should be sure the bounce house chosen includes a strong air pump that is powerful enough to keep the unit inflated and the fun flowing for extended periods of time.