It was HOT!
As a runner, I’m willing to accept that most race conditions come as they are. The weather being the one major thing that no one can control. So when we found out the July temps were going to +96°F with high humidity and a warning for an excessive heat index, we dressed appropriately and decided to roll with the punches. After all, what did we expect for summer weather in the NorthEast? So for this review, the weather (even though it was as hot and humid as the sun) won’t be the focus.
The Good Stuff
I feel like I should start off with all the good stuff about the Great Inflatable Race because I love the concept and it genuinely got the kids fired up for race day.
Despite the hot hot heat, the kids gave it a hearty thumbs-up. Even though the sun-scorched the slides into lava rocks, and we all experienced brush burns from hell, a hyper-extended/rolled ankle, and sweat beyond belief, we had a good time. After all, it’s the GREAT INFLATABLE Race, how cool is that?!
The kids were really pumped for the race, and I’m glad their excitement felt contagious because my experience at packet pickup (the night before) and the race day vibes left me rather apprehensive – more on that later.
Raceday Vibes (the other good stuff)
We arrived early and got out to the course before the sun had a chance to bake us alive. As we formed a massive crowd at the starting line I couldn’t help but check out the surrounding obstacles and get sucked into the hype of starting our wave. We were near like-minded, there for a good time and ready to go.
The first obstacle was a two-story climb up one side of a huge triangular obstacle, followed by a long slide down the backside. I guess there is a reason most inflatables have you remove your shoes- as I slid down the slide, my shoes kept wanting to grab making it hard to really slide down. But this course wasn’t a bouncy house in the yard for your niece’s birthday, this is the Great Inflatable Race- shoes required.
The course was fun for the most part, and we had a variety of obstacles to clear. This “race” didn’t feel like a race at all, more like just have fun and enjoy the experience.
The kids really had a blast.
Races Vibes Part II (The unfortunate stuff)
I can’t say I speak on behalf of all the Great Inflatable Races, because from the looks of it, there are Inflatable races all over. So, I’d like to think, that I’m sure my experience is exclusively limited to our experience with the Great Inflatable Race hosted by Spooky Nook Sports. In fact, I’m going to say my review is solely on my experience with Spook my Nook.
First, packet pickup was the night before the race, and they had advertised for those picking up their swag the night before the race was to receive $5 credit for the merchandise. I’m not sure what merchandise they were talking about, because the packet pickup was literally just that. Maybe they meant $5 credit for Spooky Nook gear? I’m not sure, again, no big deal but it drives me a little nutty when things are advertised and not followed through on. The person who checked me out literally handed my stuff and said: “see ya tomorrow”…
Second, let’s talk about parking. Spook Nook charges $10 a car for this event, which I kind of agree with and yet at the same time don’t agree with. People are not only paying for the race but on top of that have to pay to park. I suppose since the race isn’t right on the massive Spooky Nook property, the parking fee pays for the shuttle service that runs back and forth. However, they really like to force the $10 fee down your throat.
**Sidenote: we paid $10 for a souvenir sticker that was our “parking pass” which not a single person asked to valid at any time.**
Third, the event seemed very mismanaged. We showed up and just funneled into a massive line waiting for the shuttles. Once off the shuttles, there wasn’t much of clear direction on what was what, we just walked like a herd of cattle to the starting area. The start which had signs indicating “Current Wave” and “Next Wave”… which would have been awesome to see, had they not been 2 ft tall and hidden from plain sight. So, as we clearly stood in the wrong line at the beginning, I felt bad when I noticed the signs and realizing we basically cut off all the people patiently waiting to start in our 9:30 am wave. (It all worked out, during the start the 9:30 wave got in line with us and we spread out enough to not make us feel like complete jerks… I still avoided eye-contact).
Lastly, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a 5K or not? But the course was under 1.5 miles. Maybe it was the weather, but had it been a super nice day out, we would have been done this course in a fraction of the time with nothing to really show for it. Value for your money? I think not. I think the fact that it was 1,000°F outside and it took us so long to finish lessened the burn. Like I said when it comes to getting value from your money (over $120+ for a family of four a few minutes of jumping on bouncy inflatables) it seems hardly worth it.
Anyway, I feel really bad for complaining, as I genuinely try to see the good in everything, but the entire event seemed under-managed and under-whelming. It felt like Spooky Nook was just there to sell their merchandise and collect money. Even though the kids had fun, I’m rating this 2 out of 5 stars.
On the way out there was a lady selling parking tickets and telling us to come back in the fall for a much better course, (a.) stay at their hotel on-site, (b.) enjoy their on-site dining experience, and (c.) receive preferred parking for being a guest… basically, they want you to come back in the fall and give them your money for an event where they can sell you more of their own merchandise. I don’t know, I felt soured by the experience, and it just came across tacky on part of Spooky Nook.
Bottom line: I’m glad the kids had fun, but for a family of four, we have (and will continue) to spend less money on an all-day adventures where people aren’t cramming their merchandise down our throats.