Appealing to casual skaters as well as serious athletes, Chaparral Ice shares the passion of its patrons by embracing a broad spectrum of ice-skating activities such as the rink's popular theme nights that include zombie prom to beach parties. The rink offers public-skate times every day, and both friendly and competitive hockey leagues to cater to players of all ages and skill levels. The rink's figure-skating program includes freestyle sessions for aspiring figure skaters to practice their jumps, spins, and choreography?either with or without a training coach. Chaparral Ice is even home to the Austin area's curling club, which welcomes interested spectators as well as new participants.
At Hot Lava Obstacle Course, adults recapture the fun of playing on a playground. But instead of whiling away recess time with pals, these folks are training for some of the toughest obstacle courses in the world. Hot Lava Obstacle Course's trainers show students around the 2,500 square foot space, which is chock full of dozen of rotating obstacles, similar to those found at challenging events such as Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash. Students then have the opportunity to learn everything from climbing ropes and cargo nets to army crawling beneath barriers to hurdling over napping fellow competitors. All the action takes place on a well-supported foam floor along with a spring-loaded gymnastics floor section, which helps protect joints and even provides the opportunity to learn maneuvers such as cartwheels and flips to intimidate your opponents.
At Capital Music Center, the piano isn't a low-fi instrument. At least, not necessarily. The music store stocks digital pianos as well as more traditional acoustic pianos, keyboards, and V-drum kits. The teachers embrace technology in their teaching style, too. During lessons, they use everything from iPods to YouTube videos to help their students master tricky chords.
The opened jaws of a great white shark are usually no place for a child. But at Kidz 'n' Play, the shark is just another air-filled component of an inflatable playhouse, where kids can race friends down slides or scamper through a Finding Nemo-themed escape tunnel. Designed for ages 10 and under, Kidz 'n' Play's indoor playground includes giant Legos for building, toy tea sets for pretend snacking, and a reading nook stocked with picture books. Though they can pass the time surfing free Wi-Fi or building a pillow fort around their minivans in the parking lot, parents are encouraged to play with their sock-clad youngsters.
Texas School of Bartenders pours knowledge into students’ brains with in-depth, personal instruction from experienced bartenders behind fully operational bar stations. The school’s award-winning classes, taught at six locations in Texas and Oklahoma, place students in a real-life environment as they introduce concepts such as operating point-of-sale terminals, handling several orders at once, and dodging tennis balls fired by American Gladiators on their night out. A computerized job-placement program provides assistance and leads for graduates as they seek employment.
When discussing the motive behind opening an old-school arcade, Darren Spohn told reporters from the Austin American-Statesman, "People have lost that social experience—they sit on couches with [their] Xbox, they never talk to their kids. You want to come to a place where you can play together with your kids, too, and find something that the whole family enjoys. I wanted to recreate that experience in an arcade again.” The arcade enthusiast had been collecting pinball machines all his life before opening Pinballz Arcade, hoping to reintroduce the magic of the classic arcade to a community that's gravitated toward impersonal gaming consoles and lonely one-man games of ping-pong.
Today, Darren's arcade has blossomed into a 13,000-square-foot space with more than 200 classic and modern games. The pride of the arcade is its collection of more than 100 pinball machines—colorful blinking, clattering, and beeping apparatuses dating as far back as 1966. The facility is home to time-honored video games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, as well as cutting-edge shooting and dancing games. Some games—such as skeeball and Hungry Hungry Hippos—earn players tickets that can be redeemed for knickknacks and electronics.
After a round of Tron or Mortal Kombat, guests can gather at the onsite BYOB café to compare scores over burgers and pizza. All of the video games at the arcade are for sale, so customers can purchase pinball machines of their own to play in their home, office, or voting precinct.