Dave Link boasts an extensive background in the sculpture and design industry—he's sculpted toys for Mattel and Hasbro, and worked with gaming-industry giants such as Sega and IGT. Mike Skodacek has spent more than 10 years designing and founding haunted houses, when not acting as a ghoul in full makeup or custom-building his own demolition-derby cars. These two artists have combined their visions into the 45,000-square-foot multilevel Asylum Xperiment Haunted House, blending Dave's affinity for intricate, movie-quality sets and Mike's unique brand of psychological horror that plays on real fears and phobias that could actually happen.
Their indoor haunted attraction spans 40 rooms and three haunts brimming with 40 animatronic monstrosities, realistic props, and film-style sets—where more than 100 actors present gory and spooky vignettes. Many of these sets pay tribute to classic Hollywood horror films, forming a show that culminates in a surprise ending and features a montage of the monsters trying on clothes.
In The House, adventurers navigate rooms and a graveyard crawling with zombies and ghouls. In Blackout, they feel their way through the black halls of a winding maze, body hairs standing up as they wonder whose hot breath just kissed their necks. The Armageddon attraction throws visitors into a post-apocalyptic cityscape replete with streets on fire, ruined buildings, and zombies disobeying traffic signals.
With an armada of kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards at their command, Midwest Paddlesport Adventures' team spearheads expeditions to bodies of water across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Frequent trips include calming floats down the Fox River––which is densely populated by local wildlife––and Lake Andrea, a former quarry characterized by local rocks. The expert navigators safely guide groups to their destinations, pointing out animal tracks and majestic waterfowl and they commute to the office.
The instructors at Law Weapons & Supply believe intelligence is as vital to responsible firearms handling as attitude and technical knowhow. That's why each of their classes, from basic pistol training to the Glock Operators and personal protection in the home courses, teaches beginner through advanced marksmen with a combination of classroom lecture, live-fire instruction, and approving head nods. Beyond the training facilities, Law Weapons & Supply extends to a pro shop and gunsmith, whose customization services include bluing and detailed cleanings.
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.
Artist, instructor, and The Genuine Article owner Betty James Hoppensteadt provides students with artistic and practical guidance during classes that cover a variety of mediums. Turn chaotic piles of beads and stones into harmonious arrangements with a two-hour lesson on bead stringing, where crafters of all abilities can learn how to properly wield jewelry-making tools and create interesting patterns and designs on cord, wire, or thread. A large selection of finishing notions completes each adornment, allowing each student the opportunity to leave class sporting one-of-a-kind body ice.