Jump!Zone’s indoor playgrounds envelop kids aged 2–12 in an inflatable world filled with challenging obstacle courses, fun slides, and cardio-boosting bounce houses. While navigating the plush courses under the watchful eyes of air-filled dinosaurs and superheroes, kids burn off extra energy and participate in activities that may help develop motor skills. Jump!Zone’s energetic staff supervises all play as kids climb on pirate ships and trampoline inside princess castles. Specific inflatables may vary by location but often include towering bounce houses shaped like fire trucks or octopi as well as party rooms, games, pizza, soda, and other festive fare. The bouncy center also hosts birthday parties, fundraisers, and special events.
The year was 1899. Renowned psychologist Doctor Francis, disgusted with the inhumane practices in place at the Danvers State Hospital, decided to leave his position at the so-called "Hospital Hell" and start his own clinic in his family's backyard. For six months, all seemed perfect for the Francis family and their 13 patients. But the doctor was so consumed in his work that he failed to see the tragedy that was befalling his beloved wife and daughter. By the time he could tear himself from his clinic, it was too late—his family was dead. Half crazed by guilt and grief, the once kind-hearted doctor forgot his patients, dooming them to neglect and starvation, and dooming himself to a grisly death that awaited him once his wards escaped from behind the asylum's doors.
Today, the scene of this terrible tragedy draws thrill-seekers to brave the halls of the mansion where the ghosts of Dr. Francis and his family linger on. Those foolish enough to ignore the warnings from the guardian at the door endure more than 25,000 square feet of twists and turns, coming face to face with more than 60 terrifying specters and at least one jaw-dropping hospital bill. Those lucky enough to survive the mansion can head home to hide under their beds––but only if fate smiles twice and guides them safely past the tortured souls still confined in the backyard insane asylum.
Equipped with an average of 10 years of teaching experience, the knowledgeable instructors at Fox Meadow Farms teach bipeds to tame galloping four-leggers on a tree-lined 68-acre property. Encompassing two indoor arenas, eight all-weather paddocks, and a 1/3-mile cross-country course, the facilities provide plenty of space for students to get a feel for the saddle. During the one-hour group lesson, experienced equiners tutor both beginners and advanced riders on how to walk, trot, and parallel park. The farm limits classes to groups of five or fewer to make sure teachers can interact with each student personally.
Parent-chaperoned youngsters take their first, wobbling steps on ice skates while the hockey stars they may one day become whiz around the rink, perfecting their technique. Skaters of all skill levels practice side by side during open skates at Rocket Ice Arena. Their nonskating supporters can look on from the Lake Placid Lodge, sipping drinks from the onsite café and using the lodge’s free Wi-Fi to check an app that tells them whether their glass is half empty or half full.
Home to the Sabres Youth Hockey Club, the rink also offers instruction in icebound sports. Their hockey instructors can introduce novices to the sport or train more experienced skaters how to compete on high-resistance synthetic ice. A separate team of instructors specializes in figure skating and synchronized skating, which is the art of synchronizing your feet to go in a single direction. Youngsters can also explore the rink during skate parties, which come with an on-ice instructor, decorations, and balloons.
Kids and adults sound out their musical and rhythmic prowess with individual and group lessons at Allegro Music and Dance Academy. Led by experienced teachers and supplemented with at-home video instruction, music classes encompass an array of styles and techniques to establish a foundation for jazz combos and kitchen utensil bands alike. Group guitar classes teach picking, strumming, and shredding methods to 6–13-year-olds with weekly classes of up to eight students ($240–$299 per 16-week session). Groups form according to age, with older crowds also delving into songwriting and basic rock star moves such as windmilling, power sliding, and trashing an expensive hotel room. Group piano lessons also convene weekly, with up to 10 novices imbuing fingers with basic tickling techniques, as well as theory and repertoire ($240 per 16-week session). Songbirds aged 9 and older stretch their vocal chords with one-on-one voice instruction, while younger warblers learn in the company of a piano’s finely tuned tones. The music class schedule showcases all group meeting times, but private instruction in keys, strings, or vocal chords can also be scheduled Monday–Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Mike Semerau and the instructors at Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons have a trick up their sleeve. In addition to in-person tutelage, they provide professional pre-recorded take-home videos of proper drumming techniques for students to refer to while practicing. This kind of constant visualization and repetitive watching is what the instructors claim makes their students so successful as they drill new techniques such as double bass, ostinatos, and stick control. During lessons, teachers also cover subjects such as soloing, learning a student’s favorite song, creating original beats and fills, and teaching yourself. Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons has a play-along machine stacked with more than 1,000 songs, all of which have no drum track so that students can provide their own percussion and experience the sensation of playing and keeping time with other instruments.