By day, The Bounce House Amusement Center's bouncers, slides, and obstacles courses are what you'd expect them to be: colorful inflatable surfaces where kids climb, clamor, and jump. At night, though, they function as cover for laser tag combatants, who sneak and shoot their way around the inflatable arena during 10- to 15-minute games. On Friday evenings and during full moons, patrons can enjoy the arcade, with The Bounce House switching on its nine 50-inch televisions for rounds of Xbox 360 and Wii games such as Lego Harry Potter and Call of Duty .
Along with open playtimes, the center hosts camps, as well as birthday parties built around its inflatable, laser tag, and video game attractions.
Over the course of Winners Circle’s 12 years of entertaining those young and old, families have raced around go-kart tracks, practiced putts on mini-golf greens, and zapped each other with lasers. They’ve also been able to race against each other, the clock, and Christopher Lloyd in running shorts in the Time Freak obstacle race, and more recently, have been able to perfect their swings in indoor and outdoor batting cages. For birthday parties, families can take advantage of a party room, arcade tokens, and pizza from Papa John’s.
"Tread softly," say players on Insane Paintball’s outdoor forts course. No matter how careful you are on the ground, opponents likely lurk atop the field’s 14 one- and two-story buildings, waiting to strike on the unsuspecting players below. More buildings tower above the wooded field, where teams can take cover behind mounds and old, paint-splattered cars. On the facility’s regulation field, meanwhile, only inflatables stand between you and incoming pellets.
Those pellets fire from Insane Paintball’s semi-automatic rental guns, part of gear packages that include face masks and compressed-air bottles. Snacks await players after long stretches of recreational, scenario, or tournament games, as do shopping sprees inside an on-site 3,500-square-foot retail store. Besides stocking new gear, the store hosts certified technicians, who repair malfunctioning equipment such as guns that only let players load crayon nubs.
A motley collection of secure and sanitized play structures dominates each Catch Air location's indoor play arena to sate the lively imaginations of children as well as the safety concerns of their parents. Each of the four locations opens its doors seven days a week to unique lineups of attractions, including three-tiered castles covered in colorful nets and padding, with space shuttles attached to appease every child's love of anachronism. Tykes 12 and younger can wade through ball pits or take to an interactive, light-up dance floor to practice moves before they reach the age when practicing becomes embarrassing. The staff maintain a watchful eye at all times and clean every play structure daily before opening. Staffers also host parties to celebrate birthdays or the end of second-grade finals week.
In WhirlyBall, participants maneuver free-range bumper cars and use a handheld scoop to collect wiffle balls to launch at the overhead targets located on either end of the court. You'll work together in teams of up to five at a time (up to 20 players are allowed on the court at once, and at least 10 are required) to crush your opponents in a whirlywind of scoops and balls. Surrounded by safety bumpers, your vehicle enjoys a complete range of motion with powerful steering that allows you to turn on a whim or a dime. If more than 20 Whirlers are in the party, players can be rotated in and watch from the comfort of leather lounge couches instead of gathering posterior splinters on the end of a rigid bench.
At Great Play, kids are encouraged to break bottles—virtual ones, arranged on virtual shelves—in the center’s Interactive Arena. They are part of a hand-eye coordination game for kids, in which sensors track their “throws” and the computer-generated bottles projected onto the walls fall accordingly. Another version sees kids honing their throwing arms by aiming for an animated strike zone while a simulated crowd cheers.
But regardless of the specific games kids play on any given day in the 3,000-square-foot arena, each activity hews to the play center’s overall goal: to build kids’ motor skills and athletic abilities from an early age. Programs for younger kids focus on fundamentals, such as running, skipping, dodging, and tumbling. Meanwhile, athletic camps for older kids build skillsets that come in handy during pick-up games on the playground or at their first Olympic trials at age 3.