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.
Locomotion Inflatable Play disguises healthy servings of exercise with hours of fun and games at its colorful, indoor activity center. Inside, socked adventurers are set free to explore or count each of the facility's 12,000 square feet, which are covered in bouncy inflatables and themed play areas. Playrooms for toddlers keep younger guests separate from older kids, and a miniature town encourages its visitors to cook up their own scenarios at a theater, grocery store, and 1950s-style diner. In addition to open-play sessions, Locomotion hosts birthday parties, and also features a Stuffin' Station, where kids build their own stuffed lions, bears, and dinosaurs to play with when their imaginary friends are busy.
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.
Wazoo's 15,000-square-foot facility invites kids 13 and younger to let their imaginations loose while playing on eight inflatable attractions. The sound of laughter emanates from the bouncy castles, fills obstacle courses, and silences the pleas of candy-filled animals in the piñata zone. Towering over the facility, a 24-foot slide harnesses the power of gravity to create kid-friendly thrills. Elsewhere, the aptly named Toddler Town boasts age-appropriate toys and inflatables that let younger ones in on the fun. Wazoo's other features include a concession stand and big-screen TVs that keep parents up to date on the political climate of nearby bouncy castles.
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.
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.