Little by little, life is getting back to normal. Some schools are open – our preschool has been in session for a month – outdoor parks are fair game, and now indoor parks and museums are opening too.
When Big Air Trampoline Park in Charlotte reopened on Sept. 11, it was big news for our family. My 2-year-old twins have a birthday coming up, and they’ve been wanting to have their first real birthday party at the same place their big brother Wade had his last February – Big Air.
I had worried Big Air might be a business-casualty of COVID-19, given the risks associated with gathering in an indoor space with potentially large groups of people and the length of their shutdown. But when I went to the Big Air website, not only did I see they were reopening but with wholesale changes to keep patrons safe in the face of COVID-19.
“Everything we did was with safely and cleanliness in mind,” said sales and marketing director Joel Cox, nephew of John and Debbie Cox who own Charlotte’s Big Air franchise.
The biggest change they made was removing the foam pits. Before closing for COVID, Big Air used 22,000 foam cubes to brace jumpers on their landings in some of the attractions. The foam cubes were sanitized weekly, and the process had to be done overnight. It involved cubes being fed through a fogger and set out to dry. Big Air has since replaced the foam cubes with an air bag system, which is covered by one contiguous top sheet that is made of an antibacterial and antimicrobial material. Not only can they clean it more frequently – they spray it down twice a day – but they can do it while the park is open as needed.
Cox said the airbag system offers the same comfort as the foam cubes did.
“It still grabs you and hugs you just like the foam would,” he said. “It’s really great technology, with the ability to centralize where one person lands without affecting other people. There are individual air columns so you won’t feel anybody else jumping.”
An added bonus for parents, Cox said, is it’s easier for jumping adults to climb out of than the foam. (Reminds me of trying to climb out of one of those ball pits with two toddlers one time!!)
“It’s as simple as standing up and walking out,” he said.
The second biggest change Big Air made was to update its HVAC system, Cox said. They’ve added bipolar ionization units created by a company called Global Plasma Solutions to each of their eight air-conditioning units.
“Any time air is blowing, which for us is all the time, it’s scrubbing the air,” Cox said. “It’s killing pathogens, eliminating dust particles and a lot more. It’s pretty awesome technology. It’s been used in hospitals all over the country. It was installed in the White House and in a lot of school systems – and that was pre-COVID.”
Big Air staffers are required to wear masks and carry fanny packs with cleaning solution and hand sanitizer. Big Air is limiting the number of guests, even more so than the legal restrictions that bind them to 30 percent capacity based on fire code – which for them is 240 people in a 38,500 square foot space.
Cox said the only time they’ve faced potential crowding was on Cosmo Night when they lower the lights and play disco music for teens to jump from 8-11 p.m. To limit numbers, they started requiring teens to be accompanied by an adult 25 years or older.
For our purposes, a toddler birthday party, I was confident crowds wouldn’t be an issue. Toddler time, which is held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (10 a.m.-1 p.m) and Sundays (10-11 a.m.) is rarely crowded anyway, even before COVID. Wade’s birthday party in February was on a Tuesday morning, and it was a breeze. For the twins, we limited our guest list to four kids our children have been circulating with anyway.
“Birthday parties are starting to come back and people are starting to feel comfortable,” Cox said. “It just takes time.”
Stay tuned for my review and updates about my impressions!
Big Air is located at the corner of Sardis Road North and Independence Boulevard (2408 Sardis Road North.) It celebrated its three-year anniversary in the middle of the shutdown. For more information on its new safety protocols, go to https://www.bigairusa.com/charlotte/healthandwellness/.