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When were bouncy castles invented?

Early concept bouncy castle
First concept bouncy castle or "Space Walk"

The first inflatable structure was designed in 1959 by John Scurlock in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was experimenting with inflatable covers for a government project when he noticed his sons enjoyed jumping on the air structure!

He was a electrical engineer and liked physics. Scurlock was a pioneer of inflatable domes, inflatable tents, inflatable signs, and more. His greatest achievement was the invention of the safety air cushion that is used by fire and rescue departments to catch people jumping from buildings or heights!

Alternative use for bouncy castle
Scurlock became famous for the air cushion

His wife, Frances, started the first inflatable rental company in 1966 and in 1976 they built a custom facility for the production and rental of the products. They marketed their “space walks” (as they were then known) to children's events such as birthday parties, school fairs, and company picnics.

These original inflatables did not have the enclosure of today's inflatables!

The first inflatable was an open top mattress with no sides, called a "Space Pillow". In 1967 a pressurized inflatable top was added, it required two fans and got hot in the summer like a greenhouse. That version was called "Space Walk" and was adopted as the company name.

In 1974, to solve the heat problem, a new product line called "Jupiter Jump" was created that has inflated columns that supported netting walls which allowed the air to pass through. Further enhancements of this style were developed such as a line of castles and animals which are referred to as the "Inflatable Zoo".

Their son Frank Scurlock expanded their rental concept throughout the United States under the brand names "Space Walk" and "Inflatable Zoo". Frank also founded the first all inflatable indoor play park called "Fun Factory" on Thanksgiving Day 1986 in Metairie, Louisiana. A second unit was opened in Memphis Tennessee called "Fun Plex" in 1987.

In the early 1990s, Frank created the first commercial inflatable water slide called the "Aqua Tunnel". Space Walk was the first company to bring an inflatable to the IAAPA convention and the American Rental Association.

We here at Bouncy Castle Express are grateful to the entire Scurlock family for all of their efforts to pioneer the bounce castle that we all know and love today!

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