Awesome Party Idea – Get a Dunk Tank! [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Aug31

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Awesome Party Idea – Get a Dunk Tank! [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

Every summer, I’ve thrown a small get together for my local friends. A few years back, I was looking to do something different to truly make my event stand out. After an interesting brainstorming conversation with friends Mike and Josh – a dunk tank was rented.

I’ve seen these things at charity events and celebrations, but never gave a hard thought to getting one for myself. Turns out, it’s one of the greatest party ideas, ever!

The device is simple; a person sits on a seat over a large tank of water.  Throw a baseball, hit the target, and the person falls into the water – getting instantly soaked.  A fence like metal cage encircles the tank, protecting whoever is sitting on the seat from getting hit by a wildly thrown ball.  Once in the water, the dunkee simply resets the seat and climbs back on up, and is ready to go again!

With over a month until my gathering, I Googled ‘dunk tank’ and ‘party rental’ places in my area.  The first decision I had to make was which kind to go with… turns out, there are several options.

An Easy Dunker 2 type dunk tank.

A standard dunk tank is a large 500 gallon model, with the most popular brand known as an “Easy Dunker,” manufactured by Twister Display. These are the larger tanks used at fairs or for large outdoor areas. Most of these tanks feature a built-in ladder, a step inside the tank, and a large plastic viewing window in the front. These can hold about a 250 lb. person. The plastic tub is several feet wide and often requires towing with a trailer to the location.

While this would work if my party were in an open field, I needed one that could fit onto a back patio.

Fortunately, there is a metal folding version is manufactured by Bouncin’ Bins.  While it functions the same as the large “Easy Dunker,” this version is made of a collapsible metal cage that you simply pop open into a square at the location.  A large vinyl tub is unfolded and Velcroed to the side of the cage. When finished, this version easily collapses and can even be stored in the back of a large car. There is no ladder to get out of the tank, so you do have to perform a little balancing act climbing in and out. Just make sure to hold onto the side rail at all times. It’s easy to get hurt if you fall out, so move slowly and carefully.

A portable cage type dunk tank.

That was the one I went with. The first time I rented it, it cost $225 for the day, but the company I use, The Party Factor in New Jersey, has offered me a deeper and deeper discount and sales specials with each returning year.

Once the unit is assembled, you simply drag the garden hose around, and fill it up. It took over 2 hours to fill completely and you may want to let the water sit awhile to warm up before you get started. The water is freezing cold right out of the garden hose water.

Before the party, I had a rough estimate of who was going in the tank, so I didn’t have to worry about long periods of inactivity. Many chose to wear some outrageous costume. My friend Anthony has gone in as a Ninja Turtle, Popeye, and Mario. (Captain Lou Albano would have been proud!) I was pretty much talked into wearing my full Yankees uniform in.  Other friends wore sports jerseys & shirts, their full clothes, or just a bathing suit. It is very satisfying to dunk a fan of a team that you hate! More than just satisfying – I think it might actually somehow be therapeutic!

As for footwear, some people wore shoes, some didn’t. I did, just so I had some traction climbing back up on the thing.  Some of the rental agencies I researched online, recommend wearing some type of footwear.

I found the whole experience quite refreshing on a hot day. I don’t own a pool, so it was nice to cool off in the hot sun.  It’s just tap water in the tank, so you don’t really have to worry about ruining your clothes, unless you fall off the ladder or something.

I definitely got a kick of out heckling my friends. For the most part, it worked… especially, once I started taunting people about their favorite sports team or where they are from. It was all good until I got mouth full of water going down at one point! You would be surprised how fast adults turn into kids when they desperately want to hit the target, just to shut you up. Of course, that never really works for me. This attraction quickly becomes the center of attention, with most of the party-goers watching the entire show.

When the night is over, the plastic version has a plug to pull or just un-Velcro the tub and let it drain. No worries and your lawn will thank you.

The only big drawback is the large amount of water use. If there is a serious drought going on, there are other options besides wasting hundreds of gallons of water.

An alternate version dunk tank with water released from above.

A water balloon version exists, known as a “PitchBurst,” where a person sits underneath a balloon and it is popped when a player hits the target.  There is also a similar version with a small tank or bucket of water suspended overhead that has the same effect. Yet another version features jets that will spray the dunkee sitting in a chair when the target is struck.

Besides party fun, these are an excellent revenue generator for a group or fundraiser. After eating the cost of the rental, a group can charge per ball, earning money for their group or charity. Fundraisers like these for fire companies, scouts, cancer research and schools are common year around.

For virtual fun, you can visit this new website that has just launched,, features live performers sitting over a dunk tank via webcam.  Players pay for virtual balls and try to hit a virtual target that is generated via Java code.

In some countries, and on game shows, instead of filling the tank with water, the tank can be filled with beer, slime, or mud. 7-11 did a promotion a couple of years ago where one was filled with red Slurpee. Sam Adams beer company features a commercial dunking their CEO in a tank full of beer. Good luck, cleaning up that mess!

Even though summer is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean that you can’t add a dunk tank to your party. You can fill it with warm water and use indoors such as a garage or basement. Fundraising events of this type continue on throughout the winter. Just make sure if you are using one in the colder temperatures, the dunkee is provided with a place to warm up, and plenty of warm towels.

Oh, and make sure your guests have their cameras, ready! People love to Facebook and Tweet pics!

THE 411

Name: dunk tank
What: game where by hitting a target, a dunkee is dunked into a tank of water
Uses: fundraisers, charity events, parties
Cost: Rentals start around $250 per day… an “Easy Dunker’ can start at $2,500 to own, with the portable version starting at $2,150 and under.
Also known as: dunking booth, dunk seat, dunking machine


If you have a party – go for one.  Just keep an eye on the kids!  Also, make sure no one is getting hit with a ball.  Little children should not go into the tank if they cannot stand above the water line.  It is not a pool.  Keep an eye on your friends that have one too many adult beverages and decide to climb in.  You can fall out of these if you make a wrong move.  I try to place my against a back fence, so there’s something to hold onto getting in and out.  Also, don’t park any cars nearby or place near a window.  Whoever is in charge of this thing will most likely be responsible for any damage from a wild pitch – and it does happen.

When renting, call and negotiate, just like purchasing a car.  Some companies also charge delivery fees.  Take a look at the various party supply companies in your area and ask for several quotes.  But, don’t miss out – these things are a definite blast!

Image credits:Roswell Park, fridayn

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