Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

Currently: 80° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Las Vegas’ next thrill: High-flying balloon ‘bumper cars’

Image

Provided by One Giant Leap

Concept art for Parabounce Vegas, pictured here, showcases the 100,000-square-foot facility near the Strip that would allow visitors to power helium balloons hundreds of feet in the air. Stephen Meadows, the concept’s inventor, hopes to debut Parabounce Vegas in 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Stephen Meadows' Parabounce technology was on display at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Meadows is planning to debut "Parabounce Vegas" near the Strip in 2011.

In Stephen Meadows’ imagination, the sky isn’t even the limit. The innovator of Parabounce balloon technology is planning to bring his high-flying version of human-powered flight to the Las Vegas Strip next year.

Imagine this: 20 people, strapped to 22-foot helium balloons, floating and soaring about hundreds of feet in the air in a 100,000-square-foot “bubble dome.” Dubbed “Parabounce Vegas,” the venture will give its visitors an unforgettable experience, Meadows said.

Think of it as “3-D bumper cars,” he said.

“You’re flying. That’s the biggest thrill,” said Meadows, underlining the experience’s visceral appeal. The balloon’s design allows riders to navigate themselves, offering a complete sense of control in the air.

“It’s not an elevator ride,” Meadows said.

Meadows patented the Parabounce technology in 1996, initially using it for charity fundraising events. In 14 years since, Meadows and Parabounce have been featured on “The Today Show,” at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and landed on the White House lawn to greet then-President Bill Clinton.

The idea was born, Meadows said, when he was a child, tying plastic Army men and wads of paper to helium balloons. One day, he said, he wondered, “Why can’t I be the wad of paper?”

Decades later, Meadows said he is excited — “I have to contain myself” — to share the experience with everyone, regardless of physical prowess or disability.

Parabounce Vegas received preliminary approval for a lot near the Strip in 2008, and Meadows said he has investors at the ready.

With more than 40 million visitors a year and its reputation for the unexpected, Las Vegas is “probably the best place in the world” to launch Meadows’ new vision for the technology, he said.

“People here are very accepting of new ideas,” Meadows said. “They come here for new experiences.”

Meadows also plans to debut a new ParaBike — a flying bicycle — at the complex, as well as adding arcades and other features to supplement the “otherworldly experience.”

For those fearful of heights, Meadows was quick to point out that after 10 years and more than 1 million riders, Parabounce technology has never caused an injury.

Although “nothing is set in stone,” Meadows is planning to begin construction in May with an opening date later next year.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 5 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Hey! The circus is coming to town!

    This should be really exciting and a day to remember for the kiddies...until the first balloon pops!

    Then of course...it's time to bring in the clowns.

  2. "Hey! The circus is coming to town!"

    The circus is already here. The clowns change daily.

  3. It looks like you guys are trying everything possible to get visitors back. And you try it without making gaming more interesting, but everything else. Not that I have anything to complain about this balloon idea, looks pretty cool actually, but I have some concerns about it:

    - gaming revenenues are the 1+1 of this city, everything else is popcorn or the cherry on the pie. As long as casinos cut down on the payout percentages, gaming revenues will go down as visitors will rather spend their money on ballon flights or dining than on expensive zero-chance gaming. And if this can make up for the interest payments the casinos have to pay,...I really think not.

    - Just like this new ride on Fremont Street, the ride on a wire, it looks pretty cool, but it's something for non-casino visitors. Inside of the casinos, everything else has not changed to the better. To the contrary, actually. And that's why the Plaza is shutting down hotel operations, just like Binions did already. With the Vegas club (probably) to follow soon, and then , what comes next?

    I vote for legalized and controlled prostitution in your city, as it already exists and the police is just looking away, knowing that it's impossible to prohibit. However, I have no vote right, so this has no relevance.
    Good luck with this new ride. I am sure some heavy bank loan will only allow that, and good luck to the people giving out these loans. Looks to me like another bankruptcy project for 2017 or so....

    From Switzerland

  4. This looks like fun.

  5. "In a wreck? Need a Check?"