Val Lanes Recreation Center has been in business for more than 50 years, and its knowledgeable staff draws upon a wealth of knowledge and history while overseeing the alley's 36 lanes. Automatic scoring tracks bowlers' progress and ability to silence pins singing 10-part show-tune harmonies during daily open-bowling hours. Automated bumpers buffer gutters against sore egos and upset youngsters, and upbeat rock music serves as a sonic backdrop to the jovial thunder of scattering pins.
Bowlers who revel in the crashing cacophony of well-flung bowling balls can find solace in Ankeny Lanes' 12 wooden alleys. The family-night package bundles a quartet of goodies that fulfills every basic human need: food, drink, recreation, and two-toned footwear. On arriving for an evening of fun, up to four participants first check in at the alley’s shoe section to find the appropriate bowling shoes ($12.64 value). Once tastefully shod, customers are each entitled to a pair of bowling rounds ($33.52 value), giving them two great opportunities to finally break the 300-point barrier that has been the bane of professional rollers for decades. Also included in the Family Night deal is a hot pizza ($10.10 value) and a pitcher of soda ($4.25 value) from Ankeny Lanes’ full-service snack bar. The package is also available for Glo Bowling nights, when the alley trades its normal ambience for an explosion of colorful glow-in-the-dark lights and up-tempo music.
Premiere Bowling and Entertainment features 24 pristine lanes with 32-inch LCD screens and their own seating areas. Families and friends face off during 10-frame games as high-fives blend into the din of music and pin crashing, creating a lively, upbeat atmosphere. Things turn cosmic on weekends when Laser Bowl adds lasers, black lights, and fog machines to the mix until 2 a.m. Premiere Bowling also features optional bumpers to help kids compete and a sports bar for players to refuel with food and drinks.
Owner Darlene Olson holds court over Merle Hay Lanes’ sleek bowling lanes, where the sounds of laughter and pins crashing fills the air. An Olson family heirloom since 1993, Merle Hay caters to amateurs and pin-toppling veterans alike with open bowling and league play for a variety of age and skill levels. Bowlers quench competition-induced thirsts at Bowlwinkles Lounge with a formidable lineup of drink specials. The bowling alley also plays host to a variety of special events including birthday parties and corporate outings, preventing coworkers from having to bowl in the alley behind the office.
In 2012, Bowlerama Lanes upgraded its equipment and emerged with its 28 lanes now covered in sleek synthetic material and bumpers that can be called into action at will. Overheard, 40-inch LCD screens flicker with scores that have been calculated on high-tech Qubica Bowland X auto-scoring machines instead of dad's trusty finger abacus. Between frames, bowlers can grab a bite or a drink at the snack counter, where they serve up a menu of sandwiches, pizza, and shareable snacks.
Throughout the week, Thunderbowl puts its signature twist on the classic game of bowling with a lineup of themed leagues and events. Orchestrated by the alley's staff, the league roster includes the Golden Agers senior league, the Ladies Night Out league, and the Have-A-Ball league, which comprises teams of one adult and one child. Events include a carnival day held in August, which includes revelry and a chance to win prizes. At Thunderbowl's snack bar, the kitchen crew fuels bowlers to prevent them from hiding marshmallows in the finger-holes of their bowling balls by crafting specialty burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches such as a patty melt with grilled onions and a chicken philly.