Cool Fun in the Summer Heat
September 1, 2011
Water Inflatables Offer Backyard Thrills
The backyard hose and swimming pool have stepped to the side to make way for water inflatables as summertime relief from the pervasive heat for everything from backyard play and group entertainment to parties, with a dash of thrill added. What to do for yet another birthday is not the issue, merely which water inflatable to choose. There is a natural demand for water inflatables during the hot weather season, said Dan Millar, owner of Acme Partyworks – Party Rentals & Inflatables in Farmington, Mich., as short as summer may be in the region. Young and old alike enjoy them for parties such as birthdays and graduations. “When first starting out, people didn’t know about them and now they’re easily searchable on the web,” Millar said. For Millar’s business, the most popular item is the 20-foot water slide and the slip and slide. Customers like the big slide going down with water, and the slip and slide has a good price point so it’s cheaper to order.”
Millar pointed out that the major safety precautions are 90 percent generic for all inflatables, such as being sure to watch the weather for wind speed of 15 miles per hour and over, stake in securely, be sure of supervision, allow only the correct number of people and size of people, and not mixing adults and children, or adults and teens.
The 22-feet-tall Roaring River is the most requested water unit at Adventure Party Rentals, Ltd. in Frankfort, Ill., according to Event Coordinator Jill Graff. “It’s the ‘wow’ factor of the massive big show stopper because it’s 50 feet long.”
Adventure Party water units are mainly ordered for young children, noted Graff, yet all ages, from 5 and up, are interested in them. Eighth graders through high school and adults are most interested in the Roaring River and the weight limit for it is 75 pounds and over.
Graff promotes the inflatables thoroughly, through advertising, the local Coupon Clipper and Trader, and the business website.
Amongst the variety of inflatables styles in stock at A-1 Amusement and Party Rental of Cincinnati, Ohio, are the dual and single lane water slides, mainly popular because, said company owner, Don Maslyn, “They’re less expensive to rent than bigger ones and a throwback to the plastic liners people remember on the ground though these have inflatable bottoms.”
Dunking options are also popular, and the newest craze at A-1, reported Maslyn, is the 24-feet-tall Rip Tide slip n’ slide that offers a 55-foot ride. Misting hoses keep the track wet. Some have splash pools and some land the person in a pool of water. Many states regulate those tightly though. In Ohio, the water slides with a pool of standing water at the end require a certified Red Cross lifeguard to be present.
Customers order smaller units for backyard parties and larger ones for various groups, such as church organizations, company picnics and larger municipal events.
Maslyn’s promotes his products through a website, on Facebook and through the tangible, in-the-hand, postcard mailings.
Customers of Air Castles and Slides, LLC, Edison, N.J., are informed by company owner, Debbie Henderson, if they don’t know already, that New Jersey, too, is a state that heavily regulates water inflatables. Many of them choose from the combo and traditional-style units Henderson stocks, and the safer front loaders with the extended landing zone.
Henderson, a water safety instructor for the YMCA and a New Jersey Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board member, is not a fan of water slides with standing pools of unfiltered water. “They’re bacterially dangerous and anyone can drown in 8 inches of water. On a splash down, the slide gets just as wet, it’s cleaner, safer and there’s no anxiety going down into a body of water. And as kids come down the extended landing zone slides, it’s not so fast and they don’t slide into or over and outside of the ride. They’re able to naturally slow down and exit. Front-loading slides are much safer, the operator can watch them go up the front, slide and exit, all from the same vantage point.”
Henderson’s slides go out primarily for children under 12, who must be a minimum of 42 inches tall to get on the ladder. Her business is popularized through word of mouth, her website and through print ads.
Water slides are selected more frequently than slip n slides and bouncers from the insured and licensed Inflatable Fun AZ, LLC in Mesa, Ariz. For absolute safety, said part-owner Carrie Davis, “All are securely pegged or sandbagged down.’
Customers find Davis’ business on the website and make their choice, largely for children as young as 5 to teens, and commercial-grade units that can carry adults. Most orders answer the birthday party entertainment quandary.
At Las Vegas, Nev.’s Jump N Kids, Inc., owner, Preston Miller said water inflatables by Banzai, designed for toddlers, are the most frequently requested by his clients.
Miller has other inflatable options for all ages that are not as attractive and are priced higher, though they’re heavier and more durable. Particularly with water inflatables, said Miller, “It’s important to keep the electric motor away from water.”-