Kids bouncing off the walls? Wichita has a few places designed just for that purpose.
Trampoline parks are becoming more popular and are popping up across the country. Two have opened in Wichita in the past year: Urban Air in December, and Get Air a few months prior to that. Additionally, the Funtastics indoor play center in Derby has had a 60-foot-long in-ground trampoline since 1991.
The proprietors at all three places say jumping is just plain fun and is especially great in winter when kids and adults are cooped up.
Cheri Bauer sometimes takes her grandchildren on a movie outing after Christmas, but this year she stuffed their stockings instead with tickets to Urban Air.
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During the holiday break, she brought eight grandchildren ranging in age from 4 to 12 to the West Wichita trampoline park to burn off some energy. Bauer was happy to find something active that appealed to all of them.
“I was afraid it would be real chaotic,” she said, but she found herself pleasantly surprised by the level of supervision.
Scores of ground-level trampolines surrounded by orange and blue foam padding ring the sprawling Urban Air facility, which also offers concessions and private party rooms. There are designated areas for different activities, such as basketball, dodgeball and tumbling. Instead of walls, there are just more angled trampolines, so parents can relax when the kids go flying.
Seven-year-old Ethan Briones, one of Bauer’s grandsons, was enthralled with the basketball zone. As the music pumped, he lined up again and again to work on his dunks with one of Urban Air’s neon yellow foam balls.
Across the way, several of Ethan’s cousins played a spirited game of dodgeball, moderated by one of Urban Air’s many orange-vested employees. All the Bauer grandchildren had a blast – and their parents were hoping the crew would be less raucous later on as a result.
Urban Air’s owners, Annie and Jon Becker, say they have been pleased with the turnout in Wichita so far. Their franchise has been three years in the making, since they first visited an Urban Air trampoline park in Texas. The former teacher and medical salesman think the combination of fun and fitness that trampolines offer is hard to beat.
Rick Mast, owner of Derby’s Funtastics with his brother Russ, says trampolines never get old.
“It’s the feel of bouncing on the trampoline and going into the foam pit,” he said. “They can fall and not get hurt.”
Mast’s facility, which originally focused on training competitive gymnasts, expanded into parties and open play time years ago and was one of the first in Kansas to put in an in-ground trampoline and make it accessible to the wider public. It was quite the undertaking at the time, having to be custom-made, Mast said.
For a while, inflatables seemed to be all the rage for children’s parties, so Mast added them to his setup. However, he says, the trampolines have always held a more enduring interest and get much more use.
Graham Rempel, park manager at Get Air, witnesses the appeal of trampolines daily. Get Air is most popular with ages 5 to 15, he says, except for weekend nights. That’s when Get Air gets a regular crowd of older teens and college students, many of them into parkour, also called freerunning. Parkour involves running, tumbling and jumping over obstacles in urban spaces, so the bouncy confines of a trampoline park can be a great training ground.
Rempel tries to schedule five or six jump guards during peak times. “They’re basically lifeguards for trampolines,” he said.
Although Get Air hasn’t even marked a year in Wichita, there are some jumpers who can’t seem to get enough. One of Rempel’s most loyal customers is a tween whose mother brings her in for three or four hours at a time. She has clocked at least 50 hours, if not 100, and calls most of the jump guards by name.
That’s definitely an extreme, Rempel says, but first-time jumpers don’t usually retain that status for long.
All three jump centers do require liability waivers. At Get Air and Urban Air, participants can fill them out online ahead of time. Better jump to it.
If you go
When: Open play is 5-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday for ages 3-12
Where: 404. N. River St. in Derby
How much: Kids ages 3-12 pay their age
Information: www.funtasticsusa.com, 316-789-8721
Get Air Wichita
When: Noon-midnight Friday; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
Where: 130 N. New York
How much: $12 for first hour, $8 for second; shorter than 46 inches is $8
Information: http://getairwichita.com, 316-448-4313
When: Open jump special hours 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday (regular Friday hours are 3-11 p.m.); 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday; 3-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday
Where: 8545 W. Irving St.
How much: $12 for one hour or $20 for two hours for ages 6 and older; $8 for ages 3-5; free with adult or kid ticket for ages 2 and younger
Information: www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com, 1-800-960-4778