We Tried It: Knockerball Hawai‘i

Get the summer rolling at this socially distanced bubble ball bump zone.


Knockerball Arena In The Ball Photo Laura Dornbush

Photos: Laura Dornbush


What: Inflatable bubble ball pop-up

Who: A mom and her energetic 4-year-old son

Where: Mauka Center Court at Pearlridge Center

When: Thursday at 11 a.m.


“Mom, what are we doing today?” School’s out and finding activities to fill the summer days can be daunting. So on a drizzly morning when going to the beach wasn’t an option, my son, Duke, and I decided to check out the limited-time Knockerball Hawai‘i pop-up at Pearlridge Center. I’d seen videos on social media from the previous setups there and thought it would be a safe way to let Duke burn some energy and get us through to naptime.


As we entered the mall, Duke immediately spotted the extra-large black and red inflatable arena that dominates the Center Court and excitedly ran toward it. We were in luck, no line! We checked in, paid for a five-minute session, and filled out the online waiver via a QR code on my phone. Just like entrance to an amusement park ride, we had to check our height against a measuring stick to determine which size ball was right for us, small or medium. Heads-up: This bump zone is designed for keiki, so only those between 3 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches are allowed to participate. We both just made the cut!


Knockerball Measuring For Height Photo Laura Dornbush

Just made it! Photo: Laura Dornbush


After removing our shoes, we entered the inflatable arena, which resembled the largest bounce house I had ever seen. It was time to don the inflatable clear bubble balls, but a sudden wave of claustrophobia washed over me. Needing a minute, I made Duke go first. He didn’t hesitate and followed directions on how to get inside, which is trickier than it seems. Hands in first, slip backpack-like straps over your shoulders, then grab onto handles in front of you. The two Knockerball staff members were helpful and patient as I fumbled inside and got the feel of it.


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Duke had no fear. Once he was taught how to do a somersault, he was hooked and started rolling around. I even mastered the upside-down maneuver! We were like two kids in a candy store—I mean, bubble—giddy and laughing. Duke loved charging at me from across the arena and knocking me over and vice versa. Actually, I’m not sure which scenario he preferred because he was smiling the whole time.


Knockerball Arena Photo Laura Dornbush

Photo: Laura Dornbush


The hardest part was standing back up again after being knocked over—it took a lot of leg strength. I thought I was in shape, but after five minutes of play we were both huffing and puffing and out of breath. It was a creative workout. The five-minute session goes by quickly, but honestly, I don’t think I would have the stamina to go much longer. Of course, Duke would have stayed all day if he could.


We exited the arena, put our shoes back on and headed for a well-earned lunch at the food court. It included Duke’s first ICEE, which ended the adventure on a high (a sugar high, that is)!


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Knockerball Arena Running At Each Other Photo Laura Dornbush

Photo: Laura Dornbush

Our 5 Tips

  1. Measure up at home. Avoid any on-site tears by double-checking how tall your kids are beforehand. Only those between 3 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches are allowed to participate due to the size of the bubble balls. The company does offer rentals and private parties for adults, if you are game.
  2. Bring friends. Duke and I had a blast with just the two of us, but the fun would have been multiplied if he had a chance to bump his buddies. Maximum capacity is eight at a time.
  3. Wear breathable face masks. Masks are required, and we were breathing heavily. The good news is that the activity is inherently socially distanced with each player literally in his or her own bubble!
  4. Consider grip socks. We went barefoot, but if you prefer socks, you’ll need ones with grips on the bottom to avoid slipping. Knockerball Hawai‘i doesn’t sell or provide them.
  5. Stick around for more fun. Pearlridge Center is a keiki entertainment hot spot right now with Pups of War foam dart arena, Hawai‘i Escape Challenge, and Glow Golf Hawai‘i.


Knockerball Hawai‘i is set-up in Pearlridge Center at Mauka Center Court now through June 27 from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily, except Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $7 for 5 minutes. 98-1005 Moanalua Road, ‘Aiea. (808) 388-0587. knockerballhawaii.com @knockerballhawaii