Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

World's first Bounce X to open in Dubai Festival City - in pictures

The venue spans more than 5,000 square metres over two floors

To jump or not jump. That’s what I find myself asking as I stand upon a platform overlooking a giant airbag. Even though I’m only 1.5 metres above the ground, there’s a sudden fear that’s crept inside me, freezing my brain from thinking rationally and making me unable to take the leap.

I am at Bounce X, which opens at Festival City Mall in Dubai today. The venue spans a sizeable 5,000 square metres over two floors and is perfect for those looking for an adrenalin rush. As I test out the adventure course, I find myself faced with a few more fear-inducing challenges. It turns out I might be more scared of heights than I had thought. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun, less daunting obstacles ahead.

“The idea was to take freestyle sports and make them accessible to children, but also cool for elite athletes,” says Doran Davies, chief executive of Bounce Middle East. “The venue is double the size of our Bounce venue in Al Quoz, so it’s on a scale that’s never been seen before. It’s actually the biggest Bounce in the world and the world’s first freestyle terrain park.”

Australian parkour athlete Sam Carter was brought in to design the space, and the project took three years to finish. “I’m overwhelmed – I can’t believe they actually built it,” Carter says. “The initial idea was to take a regular Bounce venue and put it in a blender and kind of see what would come out. We really wanted to radicalise what was offered in a trampoline park and see what a version 2.0 would look like.”

While some elements in the park are familiar, especially those taken from the X-Park Ninja Warrior obstacle course, others are new and exclusive to the venue. For example, there’s an area called The Valley which features “floating obstacles” – including a slackline, balance beam and stepping stones – that are 6.5 metres above the ground, thankfully with protective netting.

“It’s a bit of a thrill. Most of the obstacles are very simple, but it’s the idea that you are up high that will hopefully scare some people and make it a bit more exciting,” Carter says. “That whole back area, we wanted it to feel like you are over this big drop. But you’ve got nets to catch you.”

The set-up for the park is unusual, too. While most trampoline parks are rectangular and boxy, Bounce X is circular, making its layout more of a challenge. “This is the first time with a Bounce venue that there’s more of a landscape as opposed to a flat plane,” Carter says. “That was important to us, to try to get a landscape kind of feel, so when you come in it’s an immersive experience instead of being: ‘Oh, there’s some more trampolines’.”

We have designed it to be accessible for all ages and abilities. It’s equally accessible and designed for little kids, first-time enthusiasts and athletes.

Doran Davies, CEO of Bounce Middle East

Upon walking in, guests are greeted by a reception area that’s designed with wooden finishing, giving the park a rugged, outdoor atmosphere. Across from that, there’s the end of a drop slide that starts 8.5 metres above the ground. An updated dodgeball arena comes with basketball hoops, so guests can play a version of SlamBall, while tightrope walking, a parkour area and a zip-line are some of the other attractions.

There’s also a cafe that oversees the Junior Jumper section (for children under 1.1 metres tall), so parents can watch their young ones play. It has a mini climbing wall, small trampolines and a funnel ball, a basketball game for children. Bounce X has many ways to reach the second floor, including by lift or via a climbing route. It’s not only the freestyle terrain that’s different; guests are now asked to wear sneakers or can rent shoes if they show up without proper footwear – a policy that’s different from the first facility, which has guests wear socks while on the trampolines.

Even though Bounce X is described as “top-tier”, Davies reiterates that it’s for people with varying levels of fitness. “We have designed it to be accessible for all ages and abilities. It’s equally accessible and designed for little kids, first-time enthusiasts and athletes,” he says. “I would love mums and dads to jump around with their kids. I do it with mine. The great thing about this place is that no prior skills are required.”

Most of the obstacles have differing levels of difficulty, so it’s really up to guests to choose how to tackle the park. Whether you opt for a challenging or simple route, it’s still a blood-pumping and thrilling experience – especially when it comes to overcoming any personal fears. “A lot of it is mind over matter,” Davies says. “I want people to learn and have new experiences when they come here.” Such as finally jumping off a 1.5-metre platform, say, and moving on to the next.

Updated: March 11, 2020 07:54 PM

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