A Look Back: Visiting Bounceland at the Beltline Drive-In
There was a time when there were several Drive-Ins located in the West Michigan area. One of those drive-ins, the Beltline Drive-In on 28th Street in Wyoming, had a trampoline park in the front of the theater. It was called Bounceland. Do you remember it?
Now days, it is not unusual to see trampolines in the backyards of homes. There are also businesses that offer a opportunity to bounce on trampolines -- inside and year round. Back in the 70s and early 80s, if you wanted to try your moves on a trampoline your choices were pretty limited.
Bounceland was a Popular Place
That's why Bounceland at the Beltline Drive-In was so popular. Here you could bounce with your friends or even play a game of Space Ball.
In a recent post on the If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids/Kent County, then you remember.... Facebook page, Karen Larkin posted a couple of old pictures of Bounceland.
Angie Demott posted a picture of her sitting on one of the trampolines...
Many People Remember Bounceland
Mark Brown commented: "I sure do. I was at Rogers HS just walking distance, and on the gymnastics team. Some of us would go there together and turn the managers hair gray jumping from one to another."
Joel Wabeke pointed out the safety issues: "Exposed metal springs, area to have your leg go between the fabric and side, lots of gravel to land one and if I remember correctly some had chain link fence around them. What could go wrong?"
A Closer Look at the Pictures
It is interesting to take a closer look at what is in the pictures...
First, look at the movies that were playing at the theatre at the time: "The Sting" and "Pete 'n' Tillie". Both of those movies were out in the early 70s. "Pete 'n' Tillie" was released on December 17, 1972 and starred Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett. "The Sting" was released about a year later on Christmas Day, December 25, 1973 and starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford. I'm guessing the photos were probably taken in the summer of 1974.
Also, across the street you can see the old General Tire Service store. Right next to that was (I think) Sveden House restaurant.
The End of Bounceland
Rumors have always been that Bounceland was closed because of all the liabilities that injuries could bring to the company. I've heard stories of broken bones from kids landing the wrong way or sometimes even bouncing off the trampolines altogether.
I was able to find an ad for Studio 28 and the Beltline Drive in that went back to 1983. It still mentioned Bounceland and Space Ball in the ad, so although I don't know what the exact closing date was, I'm sure it was sometime in the early 80s.
Live has it's ups and downs! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
And then there were the toys we all grew up with...