Through curls of fog lit by ultraviolet light, players find vantage points to take aim at their opponents in Lazer X's bilevel, 6,500-square-foot arena. Wearing computerized vests, players blast each other with phasers while avoiding distractions caused by pulsing strobe lights, animatronic creatures, and up-tempo music that begs them to stop and do the macarena. After the game, vests tally up points, and players can review their scores on a printout that will also detail the hits they made and received. Alternately, patrons can follow-up games with a trip to the arcade where they can keep their trigger fingers in tip-top condition.
A buzzing crowd gathers around the entrance of the Zoppé Family Circus tent before each performance, straining to glimpse the wooden hands of a large clock that displays the next showtime. When the moment is nearly at hand, members of the family emerge from the cavernous tent to greet their guests. As they introduce their siblings, spouses, and children, an accordion exhales melodies first heard in 1842, when Napoline and Ermenegilda Zoppé traveled from Budapest to Venice for their first show.
Inside the tent, Napoline and Ermenegilda’s descendants effortlessly balance on wires and swing from trapezes. Just below their aerial stage, horses trot around a sawdust ring as equestrian ballerinas display a brand of showmanship worthy of comparison to John Wayne's performance in The Lone Leotard. Between acts, Giovanni Zoppé takes on the persona of Nino the clown—a lovable character whose earnest efforts to steal the show are thwarted by his own buffoonery.
When Rob Zombie set out to create the Great American Nightmare, he knew exactly where to go for ideas: his own movies. He and his spooky-smart team of technical wizards created three haunted houses, each inspired by one of the director's terrifying cinematic works. Haunt of 1,000 Corpses brings to life the horrors of exploitation film House of 1,000 Corpses. Thrill-seekers wander through a recreation of the movie's "Museum of Monsters & Madmen" before hopping on the Murder Ride, which puts them nose to nose with notorious serial killers. Inspired by Zombie's 2012 indie film Lords of Salem, Lords of Salem In Total Blackout toys with claustrophobia, fear of the dark, and the heightening of one's senses while wandering a maze. Lastly, guests don Chromadepth glasses to explore the world of animated horror-comedy romp El Superbeasto, immersing themselves in a world of vivid images, bawdy humor, and surprises that lurk around every technicolor corner.
Between attractions, or while waiting for nerves to settle, guests can wander up and down the Bloody Boulevard and take in other spooky sights. Each evening, the Great American Nightmare also hosts adrenaline-boosting musical acts.
If you've been bowling in Chicago, chances are pretty good you've been to a Chicagoland Bowling establishment. With member centers from 3700 N. Western to 12345 S. Halsted, the organization connects pin destroyers all over the city. The advantages of this network include tournaments that span the entire region, scholarship programs for talented youth bowlers, and a cornucopia of options for clowns who juggle bowling pins.
In the winter, it looks as though an alien spacecraft has touched down at Links & Tees Golf Facility. Within this futuristic structure—actually an inflatable golf dome whose three layers trap heat—PGA professionals teach lessons and golfers practice their snow-clearing swings. This impressive indoor facility—along with an outdoor driving range that boasts more than 50 hitting stations, a 10,000-square foot putting green, and a 5,000-square foot chipping green—has repeatedly landed Links & Tees among Golf Range Magazine's Top 100 Golf Practice Facilities.
After warming up at the range, golfers can take to the tees and bentgrass fairways of a nine-hole executive course, where three ponds snatch up balls and a smattering of sand bunkers tempt hungry golfers to stop and dig for clams. They can also head for Putter’s Peak, an 18-hole miniature-golf course where tiki statues line fairways, the rumble of a Lilliputian waterfall fills the air, and putters must venture into the dark depths of a cave. After either a miniature or executive round of golf, visitors can pull off the plate armor that protects against mis-aimed balls, put down their clubs, and pick up a hot dog or pizza at the 4,000-square-foot clubhouse.
Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole, par-27 course * Length of 1,709 yards * Course rating of 35.5 * Slope rating of 113 * Link to course layout
Choosing canvases, signs, or wineglasses to brush and decorate, groups of visitors to The Painted Party gather around tables for BYOB painting classes. At the behest of an experienced art instructor, each painter daubs, blends, and Jackson Pollocks their canvases, following a series of easy-to-follow directives. They can take the resulting work of art home at the close of class.