Laser Quest's mazelike, multi-level arena lets up to 39 players weave through the clouded fog with the grace of a skydiving basket-maker—taking cover behind barriers, swooping around corners, and raining beam-bolts down from the upper decks. Players can compete either as friendly teams or as lone wolves. Once they are surrounded by intense crossfire rarely seen outside of stormtrooper raves, players must use strategy, stamina, and well-timed hand-mirror shields to defeat the opposition.
Nearly 50 years old and recognized as one of the Best Zoos for Kids by Parents magazine, the Lincoln Children's Zoo continues to foster an exciting educational atmosphere that encourages kids to interact firsthand with their furry, scaly, and leafy neighbors. There's already an ample, varied herd of animals that will be joined by the rare Humboldt penguins—the zoo is one of only 16 zoos nationwide to feature the warm-climate tuxedoed birds—and the mischievous squirrel monkeys. Curious kids and professional petters will want to flock to the hands-on exhibits. Feed a llama from your hand and listen closely for his penny-stock tips at the Firsthand Farm, or watch a friendly ZooCrew handler parade small creatures before youngsters at Critter Encounter. Because plants and animals are still reconciling creative differences, you can visit bodacious buds separately at the nearby botanical gardens, where a wide variety of plant species bedeck their expansive green areas.
Go-karts hug the twists and turns of a 1/4-mile track. Six batting cages hurl baseballs and softballs at speeds between 50 mph and 80 mph. An 18-hole miniature golf course coaxes putted balls down greens ranging from 75- to 185-feet in length. Elsewhere, water balloons fired from a launcher soak opponents stationed at battle zones. For 20 years, Papio Fun Park has enraptured families with abundant outdoor and indoor activities and games.
The indoor facility hosts trampoline-hopping players at Spaceball or Jumpshot, while an arcade brims with quarter-operated air hockey, pool tables, and laundry machines disguised as video games.
During BounceU's parties, kids bound through inflatable play structures—and occasionally glow in the dark. At the center's Cosmic bounce parties, the main lights are replaced by special-effects lighting, which coaxes light from glow-in-the-dark accessories. The center's new location, in operation since May 2013, complements its shindigs with open-play sessions and more structured classes, appropriate for kids aged 2 and older.
Otte Golf and Family Fun Center is a perennial fixture in Golf Range Magazine’s list of the country’s Top 100 Golf Ranges. Its 300-yard driving range houses more than 50 stalls—guests can choose between grass and mat hitting surfaces—set under high-powered lights that keep the target greens illuminated at night. The range provides a venue for independent practice or preparation for rounds on the center's 18-hole executive course, a circuit of par-threes and fours that takes a convenient 2.5 hours to complete, which gives golfers more time to trick out the vintage golf carts in their garages.
A lighthouse stands sentry over the 18-hole miniature golf course, where guests advance through flowerbeds, willow trees, and tidy rows of shrubs and hedges. Those interested in striking balls that aren't placed on tees or the noses of their best friends can visit one of nine batting cages, where pitching machines dispense a steady stream of baseballs and softballs at various speeds.
Though its name implies a focus on inflatable attractions, the all-ages indoor playground at Pump It Up of Omaha also gets kids active on an 18-foot rock-climbing wall and building with huge imagination blocks. These attractions stand among a sea of air-filled slides and climbing structures, some designed by members of the management team. The bounce castles propel jumpers into the air; and the Chaos obstacle course lets racers run side-by-side or practice shaking hands while walking. The playground also holds special programs such as day camps for young and medium-young children, private birthday parties, and field trips. Many of Pump It Up's staffers are university students working toward education degrees; they often organize contests and games, and supervise visitors while playing on the same level as their smaller guests.