Someone Spent Lockdown Creating A Huge Inflatable Obstacle Course For Adults

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Jhis story comes from the team of thespinoff.co.nz.

Three years ago, Corey Ealand was at a children’s birthday party when he saw his young son take off his shoes, climb on a bouncy castle and start having fun with all the other kids there.

Standing there, listening to the cheers, looking at his son beaming from ear to ear, a thought came to him: “I went, ‘I want to be there with him,'” Ealand said. But he was not allowed. This good time was reserved for children. “Adults [don’t get to] go on the bouncy castles,” he says.

So he decided to do something about it. Ealand, an Auckland-based drone builder and pilot, began researching how he could create an inflatable obstacle course that could handle the kind of power and weight provided by adults that he wanted to be able to use.

When Covid arrived and the lockdowns began, Ealand’s work dried up and he found himself with more free time than he had ever had before. So he kept busy working on his obstacle course, the dream growing bigger and bigger as he covered the walls with prints and photos. He ended up with his ultimate bouncy castle.

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He wanted it to feel on an epic scale, like the bouncy castle at the birthday party would have felt for his toddler son. It hasn’t been easy, and Ealand thinks it’s never been done in Aotearoa before: “You can’t just buy one off the shelf,” he says. “It took thousands and thousands of hours.”

As Auckland’s longest lockdown began in August 2021, Ealand began to have second thoughts. He thought, “I don’t work and I spend all my money. What’s going on? Not all events unfold. It might not be the best business to get into right now. The words “midlife crisis” crossed his mind.

Megaland occupies half of a rugby pitch.

Provided

Megaland occupies half of a rugby pitch.

But every time he showed the concept to his friends and family, they approved. “Everyone loved it. Everyone loved the idea,” he says. “We’ve had great feedback and that’s what got me through Covid.”

Scale was always a problem. A first prototype which included a 12 meter slide was rejected as too small. “It was too childish when you’re an adult there,” he says. “Going bigger definitely felt like an adult course.”

Now the finished product is bigger than he ever imagined. Megaland takes a full day to set up and covers nearly half a rugby pitch. From end to end, it is 300 meters long and can take punters up to 15 minutes to pass. It can hold the weight of up to 500 people, but it keeps it capped at 50-60 at a time so there’s room to enjoy it properly.

Punters take advantage of Megaland's large slide on a trial day.

Provided

Punters take advantage of Megaland’s large slide on a trial day.

And there’s a lot to enjoy. Megaland includes themed areas, a rugby pitch, maze, mini maze, ball pool, six slides, climbing walls, covered areas, trees, hula hoops and more. In honor of his inspiration, Ealand has included a two-tier bouncy castle for adults in the middle of the course. (Children will be allowed to use it, under adult supervision.)

Megaland recently launched with a trial day at Lilyworld at Mt Smart Stadium. How did it go? “Incredible,” says Ealand. “That was very cool.” He hopes to have a more permanent location locked down for the next school holidays when the weather is nicer, and is looking to secure deals to take him to summer music festivals.

He is coy about who created Megaland for him, saying finding a maker was one of the hardest parts of the build. It’s also secretive about its final cost, only admitting the shipping cost was $30,000. Ealand says he has a business partner because “it’s a lot more money than I can afford.”

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The “Aotearoa” section of Megaland features sheep, trees and a rugby pitch

Will he get anything back? “I have no idea. In the end, it’s just fun,” says Ealand, who points to the smiles on the faces of everyone who experienced it during his trial day as proof that Megaland will be popular. .

Finally, adults also have a reason to enjoy the chaos of bouncy castles. “Everyone who made it, even those who don’t like bouncy castles, was beaming from ear to ear,” he says. “It’s worth more than the money factor in the end.”

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