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East County Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 1 month ago

Lakewood Ranch businessman rides in rare air with his Inflata Park

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Entrepreneur hopes to spread joy, and make money, with Jumpin Fun Inflata Park.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Amy Morrow was asked if her husband, Brett, would be willing to ride the AirRider Zip Rail Coaster for a photo in conjunction with the opening of their Jumpin Fun Inflata Park in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park.

"Of course he will," Amy Morrow said with a smile. "He's a big child and this fits him well."

It wasn't long before Brett Morrow had climbed to the top of the zip line ride which runs a length of 250 feet, 28-feet above the huge inflatable park.

The entire ride lasts about 21 seconds, but it seemed much longer as Brett Morrow was twisted to the right, then back to the left while hurtling forward. His face had a variety of contortions, but his smile was ever present.

"I would ride the AirRider all day," he said after finishing the ride. "But I probably would get in trouble for jumping the line."

Being the owner, Brett Morrow probably could get away with it, but seeing children frown isn't why he got into the business.

Quite the opposite, actually. He said his biggest enjoyment from the entertainment business, whether that means his previous Jumpin Fun Sports trampoline park or the new Jumpin Fun Inflata Park, is watching families walk away from the facility after seeing a child's birthday turned into a memorable experience.

"We get to record the joy it has brought the family," he said.

Brett Morrow then bounced forward as he offered a tour of his 26,000-square foot park, seemingly frustrated he couldn't spend time playing on each of the 16 interactive inflatable attractions or the 26-foot rock climb or back on the AirRider.

"This park was built by a kid," Amy Morrow said of her husband.

If, at 55, Brett Morrow wants to experience a little goofy fun, why not? He's been the serious businessman as part-owner of Venice-based Absolute Window & Shutter. That firm had 30 employees and $12 million in annual revenues at its peak in the height of the boom, in 2010. Eventually, though, Morrow sold his ownership stake and started looking for something different.

From 2009-2013, he owned The Shooting Zone, a basketball training facility, in Sarasota. He sold that business and began looking in the Business Observer's Entrepreneurs section. He wanted to make sure he was doing something that no one else in the area was doing.

"He did so much research," Amy Morrow said. "Then trampolines popped up. Away he went. I trust his judgement."

Jumpin Fun Sports opened in November of 2012 in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park and operated until August, when it gave way to the inflatable park. Brett Morrow said both ventures made perfect sense to him.

"I graduated from Punxsutawney High School (Pennsylvania) in 1982," said Brett Morrow, who has lived in Florida since 1982. "I was the class clown. Try growing up in a place that worships a ground hog. See how you turn out."

Being fun-loving doesn't mean Brett Morrow doesn't have business acumen. While his trampoline park was popular, he wanted to keep progressing.

In this industry, if you aren't innovating, you're disintegrating," he said. "You always need to be adding attractions. In this case, it was a total redo."

Inflatable theme parks have become big in Europe the last few years, he said, so he studied the models and went forward after securing a financial partnership with Lakewood Ranch's Marc Rosenthal.

He stresses his inflatable park, which will employ 48 part-time workers, isn't just for kids. "People who come here are 6 to 86," he said. "Pick an age."

Someone suggested his park is made up of bounce houses.

"That's like calling a Lamborghini a car," he said. "We are the area's most unique entertainment center."

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