H.G. Wells first imagined a ray gun in his 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds. It took almost a century, though, before Milton Bradley’s first Star Trek-inspired electronic phasers allowed people to zap someone else with a ray of light. Now officially living in the future, these light-wielding marksmen settle their duels in the darkened halls of Lightning Lazer Tag, downing opponents with a mixture of Wild West bravado and whiz-bang space-age weaponry.
If players tire of navigating murky passageways and blasting friends, they can decamp to a nine-hole indoor miniature-golf course, which challenges bodies and minds with devious obstacles cast in the permeating glow of a black light. Competitive shouts and digital chatter drifts from linkable video game systems, which let players choose from more than 40 games.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Multicolored holds dot the climbing walls inside North Wall, granting visitors a variety of gripping surfaces and seemingly limitless routes during their scaling expeditions. Since 1994, the rock-climbing haven has been beckoning climbing enthusiasts to its sprawling confines, where it offers classes and private lessons for climbers of all abilities. Participants can even join teams, in which they can boost their skills for competitions or leisurely scrambles up the noses on Mt. Rushmore.
Featuring an abundance of indoor inflatable slides, jumps, and obstacle courses, Monkey Joe's caters to energetic kids 12 years and younger regardless of the day's forecast. Today's Groupon lets an adult and their youngster swing by for a bout of supervised bouncing during any of the gym's open hours, which take place every day of the week. Adults always get in for free, but are asked not to jump on the play equipment unless they are watching a child four years or younger or just won bingo. Instead, accompanying elders can relax while monitoring little ones in Monkey Joe's amenity-laden parent nook, which features comfortable seating, free wireless Internet, and flat-screen televisions that never need you to wipe their noses. Kids three years and younger can scoot confidently about the super-soft surfaces of the separate Mini Monkey Zone. After battling through inflatable obstacle courses and contending with bouncy minotaurs, kids can scuttle over to the arcade to use their six tokens for games of skee-ball, basketball, or jump rope; most games require one token.