With horrifying haunts designed to elicit new shrieks each year, House of Torment Haunted House keeps bones chilled well below room temperature. HauntWorld.com ranked House of Torment in its Top 13 Haunts in 2011, praising it as a "dynamic and ultra-creative attraction" that is "widely considered to be one of the most innovated haunted houses in the country." Other rave reviewers include the Travel Channel and the Wall Street Journal, who call the haunted house "20,000 square feet of terror." Among the many interactive events The House of Torment hosts are the Christmas Blackout, Valentine X, and Apocalypse, Live-Action Zombie Experience. Though House of Torment's attractions change annually, its wall of shame exists as an immortal photo catalog of all those who have squealed in fright or received bunny ears on its premises.
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.
For 25 years, Texas School of Bartenders has minted professional-grade mix masters in its hands-on classes held in classrooms that simulate real bars. The school's training labs brims with 42 bar stations loaded with up-to-date equipment, including touchscreen registers and serving trays made of hover boards. Full 40-hour courses run throughout the day to accommodate people with designs on pursuing bartending as a career. Covering drink recipes, customer service, and mixing techniques, introductory crash courses throw students into bartending in the same way Spartans taught their children to swim—by throwing them into a shark tank.
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.
In 1928, Art B. Thomas opened a carnival in South Dakota in the hopes of luring locals with wholesome family fun and exciting spectacle. As the carnival’s popularity grew, so did its vagabond spirit, now touring across 10 states with a caravan of 50 rides, 50 games, and 15 food concessions.
Though the fourth-generation family members now running The Thomas Carnival work to retain the festive, family-centered ambiance of the original show, they aren’t afraid to complement their classic staples with more modern attractions. Near the vintage Ferris wheel, which follows the same grandiose climb and ascent as the original model built for the 1893 World’s Fair, stands the fast-paced bumper cars and a tilting and twirling spider ride decked out in futuristic green LED lights. Regardless of the era they evoke, all rides are kept in safe working condition by traveling maintenance crews and inextinguishable magic spells. Since 2004, the carnival has held a spot in the Circle of Excellence on its OABA quality assessment.
Texas Jumping Beans launches earthbound kids into orbit from eight colorful inflatables housed in a 12,000-square-foot entertainment epicenter. Jumpers can come and go throughout the day to scramble across a pillowy caterpillar's rainbow frame like remorae over a shark. Sheath toes in socks before offspring scale a scarlet castle's knotted ropes or tiptoe through passageways that melt underfoot into steep slides. Blue, crimson, and yellow tones dominate a bouncy carousel stenciled with horses. Parents can surf the web on WiFi-enabled typewriters as pintsize patrons explore the bouncy terrain.