Totter's Otterville emulates a friendly village filled with vast exhibits dedicated to educational entertainment. Children can frolic within the train room, which hosts two Thomas the Tank Engine tables and a road-map carpet, or waddle to a live-performance area where staff members present daily shows involving puppets, story time, and tales of the tooth fairy's unhealthy obsession with small-size teeth. Do-it-yourself face painting encourages creative portraiture, and a construction zone encourages playing with giant trucks and a remodeled ball pit and climber area soaks up excess energy and teaches valuable lessons to children with loose car keys. Additionally, a café serves pizzas, wraps, salads, and a variety of healthful snacks.
Paul Miller has been laughed at for most of his life. Not in the sad, pity-inducing way, but as a touring member of the Ringling Bros. Circus where he steered the clown car and strode upon stilts, charming audience members with his comedic exploits. Eventually, however, he wanted to extend the circus's reach—not only to those who yearned for a chance to fly on the trapeze, but to people who, by virtue of their age, background, or disability, doubted their capacity to do so. He created Circus Mojo as a noncompetitive venue for absolutely anyone interested in the big-top arts to discover and showcase their own “mojo,” conducting lessons with a joint emphasis on physical feats and creativity.
Circus Mojo's staff boasts the equipment and expertise to lead classes on plate spinning, clowning, and acrobatics, among several other performance styles. In addition to holding workshops and summer camps at their studio space, they parade their comedic and aerial talents at special events, such as birthday parties and protest rallies against gravity. In keeping with Paul's vision of circus outreach—a goal that has earned the circus considerable press coverage—they travel to hospitals and incorporate residents into the act through the Mojo Medicine program. Paul also works with struggling youth from high schools and detention centers, striving to impart the sense of accomplishment and inspiration that stems from owning the spotlight.
Star Lanes pits ball-bearing customers against precarious pins on 22 lanes lining an upscale, modern bowling lounge. Customers begin their sojourn into the strike-based arts by lacing up their rented alley kicks, which protect floors from scuffing and toes from wanton manicurists. Bowlers launch their colorful orbs down the neon-lit, shiny hardwood tracks, knocking pins asunder as scores pop up on the high-definition video screens. Between frames, players relax into sleek, mocha-hued leather couches to bask in the glow of sculptural hanging lamps and colorful artwork, and late nights invite bowlers aged 21 and older to linger beyond the 10th frame for dancing, pool, or the occasional séance. Though not included in today’s deal, Star Lanes keeps bowlers fed with a full-service restaurant and seven full bars flanked by sleek mirrors, plush booths, and nightclub-like lighting.
Scallywag Tag's arena dazzles eyes with a black-lit, neon-tinged pirate ship and 18th-century Caribbean village, which provides a labyrinth of fluorescent walls for marauding swashbucklers. After being split into two competing crews, participants receive a vest, a phaser, and instructions to tally as many points as possible by tagging opponents, swarming the enemy's home base, or holding a referee hostage until he or she doctors the score. The score itself is broadcast on wide-screen LCD scoreboards, but those who are too busy taking out the adversary to look at them can take heart knowing that at the end of the game, the referees announce the winning team.
Outside the fast-paced laser-tag arena, Scallywag Tag encourages visitors to recharge with a drink or a slice of pizza from the snack bar. The arcade sections also distract patrons by featuring perennial classics such as air hockey as well as new favorites, including Time Crisis 3 and Find That W2 Form.
The West-side location additionally lures younger passersby with a pirate-themed jump house and a 35-foot-long slide in the family entertainment center. The West-side’s black-light miniature golf tests hand-eye coordination skills, leading guests through a gauntlet of 18 holes that similarly embrace the pirate theme.
The firefighters of Engine Company #45 Firehouse extinguished their last blaze in 1962 after 56 years of fearless public service. Although the team dissipated, the elegant, 1906 firehouse—with Renaissance Revival details and three doors wide enough to accommodate horse-drawn fire engines—remained, languishing as a city storehouse until 1980, when the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati moved in. The building was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with special exhibits. It was also filled with antique firefighting gear that is in excellent condition in spite of years of smoke inhalation.
The collection reveals early 19th-century firefighting tactics with an alarm drum that once warned of fire from the roof of a carpenter shop and was later used to provide rhythm during disco infernos. In the Safe House exhibit, families diagram their homes and create personalized emergency plans while learning tips about fire prevention.