Visitors traveling through Challenger Learning Center's exhibits may feel they've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. One moment, they're as tiny as a nanobot as they gaze at nanotechnology components developed for medicine, electronics, and space elevators. The next, they're giants who could bat the whole planet around with one well-aimed jump—that is, if the planet is the NASA projection globe across whose surface features of the sun, moon, and Earth flow in vivid color.
Other exhibits take visitors far out, with images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope or deep inside, with the Body Plaza's skeletons, x-rays, and organ models. A wide slate of interactive programming engages youngsters' problem-solving and teamwork skills with activities such as simulated space missions, where they keep the astronauts entertained over the radios at mission control or assemble probes in the spacecraft while hurtling toward Mars.
The locations that comprise Paintball Tickets challenge hue-happy gamers to a range of combative revelry fought with air-powered paintbrushes. During games, referees maintain a fun and lighthearted wartime experience while competitors engage in capture-the-flag style strategy. As players navigate the terrain on a quest to invade the other team's territory and avoid epidemics of trenchfoot, they covertly scope opponents and peg them with bright-colored pellets to dull their chance at victory.
When NASCAR drivers really want to have some fun?and often get back to their racing roots?they?get dirty. The adrenaline junkies power up racing machines and race around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 100 mph, sliding around the dirt corners and getting dirtier than a politician in a food fight.
Kenny Wallace Dirt Racing Experience lets speed-fiends?hop in the same type of Dirt Late Model or Sprint Cars the professionals drive and take off around dirt tracks across the country. They can ride in the passenger seat while an experienced driver careens around corners or take over the wheel after a 45-minute class. No racing experience is required, and family and friends are welcome to watch the race experiences.
When parents throw a party at Inflatable Fun, all they need to bring is the kids and a cake. A private party host serves up pizza and drinks, cuts up the cake, and even helps load presents into the family car. Meanwhile, all the parents have to do is kick back and look on as their kids bounce around the center's inflatable structures.
Inside the classic bounce house, kids learn what it would be like to live on a cloud or atop a giant's belly. In the 900-square-foot obstacle course, they ricochet through air-filled corridors as they search for the exit. Open play times never get too crowded, as the staff admits just up to 20 kids for each hour-long slot.
It's quite possible that many of the parents who bring their kids to RollerLand Skate Center spent their own childhoods at the rink. The Trevena family has run RollerLand for more than 30 years, long before America elected its first roller-skating president. In that time, the entertainment center has hosted countless parties, charity fundraisers, and regular skate sessions.
Today, RollerLand carries its past into the present. DJs play Top 40 hits as skaters roll across the 12,000 sq. ft. skating floor during open skates or Teen Nights on Fridays. Away from the rink, guests can find staple amenities, such as a concession stand that serves nachos and corndogs, arcade games that spew out redemption tickets, and colorful tubes that snake throughout a three-story play structure. One thing stands out, however¬—a large vault door that looks like something out of a heist movie. Inside waits the Laser Maze, an ever-changing game that challenges its participants to stretch and bend around bright green beams of light.
The community-minded Kiwanis club cut the ribbon on Kiddieland more than half a century ago, and with updates to the rides, the park continues to draw crowds for spirited family fun. A day pass to the amusement park lets kids jump into lines for unlimited enjoyment of the six rides, including the Go-Gator rollycoaster, a swirling track that speeds carts down hills, around curves, and through imaginary gazelle herds. Wee ones channel their inner Jeff Gordons on the car ride and their inner astronauts on the rocket-ship ride. A park classic, the train chugs along, taking passengers on a nostalgic trek through the lush Applegate Park grounds. Meanwhile, helicopter rides show off the thrills of flight, lifting and twisting with passengers, and the merry-go-round exudes carnival atmosphere with festive music and brightly painted horses who have luxurious manes of cotton candy. Though not included with today's Groupon, the snack bar offers younglings a break from dizzying heights and track-top fun.