On a level with Gak, the Pogo Stick and the Furby, the moonwalk stands among the most ridiculous sources of amusement in the 21st century.
Nevertheless, a surprising number of people are unfamiliar with the term “moonwalk” when it refers to the inflatable toy as opposed to Neil Armstrong’s landmark 1969 deed.
Others correctly identify a moonwalk as the bouncing cage one frequently sees at parties or carnivals. Both for its novelty and for its visual appeal, the ever-popular moonwalk has helped make inflatable rental companies one of the fastest-growing home-based industries today.
Though it looks like a piece of amusement park scenery and bounces like a mattress, the moonwalk is made from high-grade industrial materials. Generally composed of a square frame surrounded by protective netting, the highest-quality moonwalks are distinguished because they are constructed from flame retardant tarpaulin or nylon. Some are even double-stitched to further increase their level of safety.
The quality of a moonwalk rental company can often be determined by the general cleanliness of the inflatable toy and its accompanying equipment, the thoroughness of setup services offered, and the level of insurance coverage available. Though these features can add extra dollars to the price tag, they also can keep jumpers safe, and are thus worth the customer’s while.
Moonwalks, one of the simpler breeds of inflatable recreation toys, can usually be purchased for between $1500 and $3500, depending on the complexity and demand for the look of the desired moonwalk.
Artistic flourishes for moonwalks range from their size differences to the addition of a superhero theme. Some moonwalks even come in the shape of animals or pagodas.
But if purchase prices vary, rental rates have an even broader range. Many reliable rental companies begin around $150 for four hours, but some cost significantly more or less. Because the equipment for moonwalk rental services is relatively inexpensive to purchase, individuals can start their own businesses without needing much initial capital. All would-be inflatable renters need is an effective marketing plan and a few employees to renting out the moonwalk out to local events.
Portable, popular and well-priced, moonwalks have remained amusing since their accidental invention in 1957. Engineering and physics professor John Scurlock of Shreveport, La., was working on an inflatable bubble-shaped cover for outdoor tennis courts when he noticed several students bouncing around on his experiment piece. When Scurlock went to revise his design, he did so with an eye to making a bounce unit that would be entertaining, not just weather-resistant. The result was the first ever moonwalk.
Alternative names for the moonwalk include the moon bounce, bouncer and bouncy castle. There are as many names for this curious device as there are different looks for it, but all have the same function: bouncing.
Due to their function, moonwalks have several unbreakable safety rules. A moonwalk may never be over-occupied or jumped on in winds exceeding 25 miles per hour because it could flip over and seriously injure its patrons. Even if tied down with recommended stakes and sandbags, the moonwalk is too light. Bouncers also must refrain from rough housing or bringing any unwanted equipment onto the moonwalk (such as silly string or other pranks housed in aerosol cans).
Though they have their risks, a properly used moonwalk is a great source of fun for all ages.