Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Our Favorite Trampoline Park

The Charlotte area does not lack for indoor trampoline parks. Over the past five years or so, the bouncing warehouse phenomenon has taken root in the Queen City. Now, you can have your pick between a number of venues, from Sky High to Sky Zone, and Urban Air to Big Air.

Our favorite, though, is Defy Gravity in the University area. Here's why:

1) Its easy to get to. From Uptown, it's a straight, 15-minute trip up I-77 North to I-85 North. Take exit 43 for University City Blvd. toward NC-49/Ikea Blvd. After the exit, Defy Gravity is a little over a mile ahead on your right. The streets in that area are built for heavy traffic flow to accommodate Ikea and the surrounding big-box stores.

2) It's clean and simple. There are plenty of options for play in Defy Gravity, but it's not overwhelmingly loud, dingy, dark, irritatingly flashy or over-stimulating. You won't find arcades or a snack bar or extra-fee amenities -- which I think makes it a much more enjoyable experience.

3) What you will find at Defy Gravity is a football field's worth of trampolines, a ninja obstacle course, a dodgeball area, two basketball hoops and several large foam pits with a number of launching-off options (including a trapeze bar). There's also a 6-and-under corner reserved for the youngest bouncers that includes several trampolines and a small foam pit area. You pay one fee and get access to it all. There's also no waiting in line for harnesses, amusement games or junk food.

4) The staff is attentive. There are several "flight crew" members, as they are called, monitoring the trampolines and foam pits at all times. They keep an eye out for unsafe behavior. Plus, the staff at the check-in counter are friendly.

5) The prices are reasonable. And they run specials. You pay by the hour, 1.5 hours or 2 hours. See prices and hours.

6) What really keeps us coming back is the Kid Jump hour from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. weekdays where only kids 6 and under are allowed and adults jump free (adults also jump free with a paying child through noon weekdays). It's a good deal, especially since this tends to be a much less crowded jumping experience for the whole family. If you've got kids 7 and over, getting there right at 10 tends to be manageable from a crowd standpoint, too. Keep in mind that rainy days and school holidays can be more popular than others. In the summertime, there are often camp groups as well.

A couple of things to note:
As of recently, Defy Gravity requires visitors wear their grippy socks (socks from other trampoline parks are not allowed), so you'll have to purchase a pair for each jumper the first time you go. Those cost $3. Make a note to pack them the next time you go so that you don't end up with more pairs than you need!

I recommend filling out the online waiver before you go. This will save you time at check-in. And it's good until the kids turn 18. You can also purchase tickets online, but I find it's just as easy to do so at the desk when you arrive. That way, you don't have to pay the online fee -- and you don't miss out on jump time if you happen to be running late for the slot you purchased.

I also recommend aiming to get there at least 15 minutes before the hour. That gives you time to get through the ticket line (which can be long, depending on when you go) and take a quick restroom break before stashing your shoes and hitting the trampolines. Your time starts on the hour (or half hour) so might as well make the most of it.

I haven't been to all the trampoline parks in town, but I don't feel the need to explore much. We're quite happy with our experience at Defy Gravity. I think you will be, too.

How to get there:
Defy Gravity Charlotte is located at 8116 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28213 next to a Target shopping center.

Don't forget to take:
  • Your Defy Gravity socks!: After you've purchased them the first time, you won't want to have to buy more.
  • Water: You're allowed to keep a water bottle on the side of the trampoline area.
  • Snacks: When you're done, you'll find you've worked up quite an appetite.

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