There is nothing like seeing your four year old dive off a 10 foot cliff into an inflated bounce pit. One of the by-products of our advances in technology appears to be the ability to create situations where our kids can “safely” do things that, only a few years ago, were being filmed by Johnny Knoxville for MTV. I still remember being amazed when David Letterman stuck himself to a giant Velcro wall using a trampoline and a sticky Velcro suit. Child’s play.
I’m not complaining. While you have to sign pretty extensive waivers to get into any of the facilities I’m going to mention below, I will tell you they are all pretty amazing, and are becoming the norm for birthday parties for kids three years and up.
As far as I can tell, the child projectile industry comes in three styles at the moment. First, there are the inflatable variety I describe above. The evolution of the bouncy house we knew as kids. The bouncy house has morphed into the bouncy warehouse, full of bouncy houses, bouncy slides, American Gladiatoresque mazes where kids barrel through mazes and hurl themselves at any child in their way. Below you will find mention of some of these warehouses which host well orchestrated birthday parties for children.
The second style of bounce facility is the trampoline park. Essentially these are wall to wall trampoline facilities where you can play trampoline dodge ball with others, work on your flips on your own, or bounce off of trampolines into gigantic foam pits (remember to leave your cell phone on the sideline before doing this one).
The third type of child projectile site is the modern day version of “Chutes and Ladders.” There appears to only be one real player in this space and it is Billy Beez. We found Billy Beez in Syracuse when we were on a pilgrimage to visit some friends upstate. Boy, did we hit the mother-load. For Star Wars fans, imagine “Return of the Jedi” and the planet Endor. You remember, the world inhabited by the muppet Ewoks who lived in the trees in a multi-tiered maze of rope bridges and slides. Such is Billy Beez.
Billy Beez has outposts both in the Bronx and at the gigantic, Palisades Mall. Both work, but, if you can, you should hit the one at the Palisades Mall. This facility has multiple trampolines and it’s about three times the size of its younger sibling in the Bronx. Both locations offer two levels of interconnected climbing contraptions and slides that can occupy and tire out even the most sugar fueled child. Some of the slides are big enough to scare adults, including myself (both have a virtually 90 degree two story drop slide). The beauty of Billy Beez is that it actually can serve kids as little as 18 month old new walkers.
Both locations offer “younger child sections” in addition to the full throttle mess. And even in the main space a child has a lot of options as to what they would like to try. It’s like those old choose your adventure books from the 1980s, only you can see what’s coming down the pike with the slides and routes you can take in Billy Beez. They have miniature basketball courts, indoor soccer, zip lines. It’s nuts and it’s actually pretty affordable. Last I checked, a 10 pass packet of visits for one adult and child is around $100. You can go and come as you please throughout the day and they even offer child care if you wish to go and catch a comedy show at the Palisade’s Comedy Club, a movie, or just sit for a good parental cry in one of the comfy couches scattered throughout the mall.
Whichever style facility you choose, remember to pack socks. No shoes. Socks are required for entry.