Two elephants guard a new fortress behind Winnipeg’s Punjab Cultural Centre.
The animals — and the towers, slides and stations they protect — are inflatable. So is nearly everything within the roughly 13,000 square foot space.
Organizers say it’s Canada’s largest outdoor inflatable bounce park, or inflatapark.
"(I’m) waiting desperately to open it," Nikhil Dutt said Wednesday.
He stared at the deflated structure covering the lawn of 1770 King Edward St. He and friends customized the park themselves, he said: everything from the 345 ft. obstacle course to the nearly 20 ft. tall slide to the "Leap of Faith," where users can jump from 25 ft.
There’s a king’s chair to sit on and a rabbit’s face to crawl through. A DJ booth stands in the middle. Infinity signs emblazon the park to symbolize a lasting presence, Dutt said.
The Big Bounce Park was supposed to open earlier this month, but there have been delays — supply chain backlogs, a longer than expected set-up process. Now, Dutt is waiting on an electrical permit.
He said he hopes the permitting process finishes this week so he can open before July.
"This (bounce park) was my dream when I was a kid," the 22-year-old said.
He graduated from Vincent Massey Collegiate and spent two years working for Spice Circle East Indian Restaurant, his family’s St. James business.
Along the way, he convinced his parents to support him: he wanted to create the country’s largest inflatable bounce park.
"The biggest thing for me is to bring something new to the community," Dutt said. "I’m trying to bring a bit of fun, especially for the family’s kids… they can go away from their PlayStations and all those sorts of games."
Dutt found a website which allowed him to create a bounce park. He wouldn’t disclose where he got the structure but said it travelled overseas.
In February, Dutt began talking with Navtej Bains, owner of the King of India restaurant at 1770 King Edward St.
Bains rents three acres behind his restaurant and event centre. The space was ideal for Dutt’s dream.
"He talk(ed) to me about this idea," Bains said. "I like this idea… He’s also a young guy, so I like him."
Bains said he’s known Dutt’s family for around two years through the restaurant industry.
He’ll charge Dutt rent if the entrepreneur makes money this year, he said.
"He’s a new guy, so I don’t want to push him," Bains said.
He noted Dutt has already gotten a lot of calls.
Dutt said the bounce park cost near $1 million — a ballooned price due to pandemic-era inflation pressures.
Spice Circle is financing the project, Dutt said.
"Right now, the prices are touching the sky," he said, noting the diesel and electric-powered park goes through more than $1,000 worth of fuel "every second, third day".
Twenty-four blowers inflate the structure, which is anchored in the ground via metal hooks.
Dutt didn’t appear stressed over finances.
"My aim is to keep making it bigger and bigger," he said with a smile.
The City of Winnipeg granted a permit to The Big Bounce Park on April 22. It allows for up to 400 people to attend at a time until Sept. 30.
The park can fit 400 customers, but Dutt said he’s capping capacity at 200.
"That way, it remains more like an open space," he said.
A rotation of paid workers and volunteers — largely friends and family — will run the park, which will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Monday through Wednesday mornings will be for kids age four and under, and their parents. Otherwise, all ages are welcome, Dutt said.
Youths under age 16 must bounce with older caregivers. People can buy tickets in one, two and three-hour sessions.
"We’re excited about (The Big Bounce Park) as another draw in our cache of experiences," said Linda Whitfield, Travel Manitoba’s vice-president of communications.
The Crown corporation didn’t have many details on the new attraction Wednesday, but Whitfield said she was "excited to learn more".
Morden, Pinawa and Minnedosa have inflatable water parks. They’re quite popular with families, Whitfield said.
Canada’s first inflatable theme park, The Bubble, opened in Toronto last summer. The 10,000 square foot site is filled with obstacle courses and climbable walls.
The Big Bounce Park is not affiliated with The Big Bounce America, which touts itself as the world’s biggest bounce house.
Tickets for a one-hour slot at the Manitoban attraction cost $21 for kids under age seven and $31.50 for everyone seven and older. Tickets can be purchased at www.thebigbouncepark.com.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.