It’s commonly accepted that it’s not a good idea to build castles in the air, so the team at Monkey Zone built castles with air inside them instead. At their 40,000-square-foot indoor playground, they supervise tots expending energy as they ricochet off the walls of the Dora the Explorer inflatable and other air-filled fun houses. Good for kids aged 1–10, the Toddler Town bouncy house lets little ones roll about as bigger kids race invisible tractors at the barnyard blow-up. In the game room, kids delve further into their imaginations while playing arcade and crane games and sip soft drinks from the snack bar. Monkey Zone also hosts birthday parties with pizza, pop, and play for up to 50 guests in their fanciful space featuring jungle, circus, and aquatic murals.
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.
Mid-America Raceway's slot-car facility stocks everything from parts and paints to motors and controllers. These items include JayGee controllers, Falcon motors, Open-12 chasses, and Sonic gears that enable miniaturized drivers to shift quickly through sharp turns. Elsewhere, the shop's winding racetracks buzz with activity during races, as new and experienced racers test their skills while precise electronics track their lap times. Staff members—including the shop's track dog, Marshall—also host special events for racers of all ages.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
By the early 1920s, nearly every major metropolis in the United States and abroad had an aquarium. But while Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo housed an impressive collection of freshwater fish, civic leader John G. Shedd and his colleagues wanted to build a standalone aquarium swimming with saltwater species. Shedd’s contribution of $3 million paid for nearly a million gallons of seawater, which were transported by rail from Florida’s coast before filling tanks large enough to accommodate sea mammals as well as fish. Even though Shedd died before the aquarium’s construction, he will forever be remembered for creating the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater collection. His dream continues to thrive with the Shedd’s scores of undersea creatures, from sharks and dolphins to vibrant sea cucumbers, all showcased in educational, eye-catching exhibits.
Glowing monkeys scamper toward a neon waterfall, and a knight bearing a radiant yellow lance rides past a bright orange octopus emerging from the ocean. What appears to be a time-traveling session gone awry is really the evolving environment within Putting Edge’s indoor black-lit mini-golf course, which whisks players to deep seas, Aztec jungles, and medieval times. Since opening its original location in Canada, Putting Edge has now expanded to 17 North American locations, all of which invite guests onto its challenging 18-hole courses to seek victory over opponents and the forces that keep their teeth from not glowing as brightly as they could. Elsewhere, the facility houses private party rooms, concessions, and an arcade filled with gamer favorites such as air hockey.