Housing whiz-bang activities sprung to life from the mind of owner and game designer J. Richard Oltmann, Enchanted Castle & Haunted Trails coax thrills from the young and young at heart. As pins are knocked over throughout the 66 mini-bowling lanes and an arcade rings with the peal of 250 games, Enchanted Castle?s 60,000-square-foot space fills with scenes fit for dream-like days of timeless tomfoolery. A laser-tag arena hosts light-based combat, bumper cars clunk together around a giant track, and an indoor go-kart course lets driver reenact the time that the Indianapolis 500 was hosted inside a local gymnasium. In addition to rides and games, kids can bounce around in the Inflatable Kingdom, visit the new Softplay area, or search for treasures in the prize redemption center. Platefuls of wings, pizzas, and sandwiches dot tabletops in the dining area, where visitors can feast in front of karaoke, big-screen TVs, and an animatronics stage show featuring in-house band the Jammin? Jesters.
At any moment, visitors to Wilderness Falls might run into the resident moose. He isn’t grazing: Maddux the Moose, the family fun center’s fuzzy mascot, spends his time playing its two 18-hole, outdoor mini-golf courses and accepting high-fives and hugs from enthusiastic guests. Maddux isn’t the only fixture that may make guests feel as though they’ve wandered into the woods¬; the two mini-golf courses are pretty rugged themselves. The Bear Course, which hosts the annual Chicago Mini-Golf Championship, leads putters past a 35-foot waterfall, into a dark cave, and across creaking wooden walkways, just like the race all of Harrison Ford’s clones run to determine which one will get to play Indiana Jones. Alternatively, the Eagle Course leads players around winding rivers and on a climb to the top of a 40-foot mountain of rock.
Of course, it’s not all roughing it. In the middle of the greens sits the tented arena that holds Wilderness Falls’ batting cages, including six baseball cages and three softball cages. An arcade lights up the indoor space with the glowing screens of video games, and party rooms hold birthday and team celebrations.
Since 1981, families have flocked to the attractions at Jus-Fun Amusements. They zip around the 1/5-mile go-kart track, drifting around its three hairpin turns, then douse each other with water balloons in the Water Wars arena, where arguments ensue over which bathroom the loser has to clean. A more leisurely pastime can be found on the grassy expanses of the mini-golf, where the obstacles are changed once a month to challenge repeat visitors.
Today's side deal gets you trackside seats, an official program, all-you-can-eat dinner, and heart-racing harness-racing with real live horses at Maywood Park Racetrack for $15 (a $30 value). The racing starts at 7:20 p.m. on December 4, but the delicious eats and premature boasts get started at 6:30 p.m. Your Groupon includes trackside seats in the enclosed and heated Winner's Circle Dining Room, free valet parking, and a live race program.