As planes come and go from nearby Windsor International Airport, grounded racers engage in their own form of high-speed action at Warp Drive Race Park. Strapped safely into one of four different 9-horsepower Honda-engine go-karts, helmet-clad passengers grab their steering wheels, don their racing nose plugs, and put their feet to pedals as they test the limits of speed. Up to 20 karts can take to the large 1,800-foot concrete track, currently organized into several straightaways, curves, and hairpins that drivers can take at up to 45 km/h. Little racers aged 4–10 can jump into child-sized single-pedal cars and roam around a smaller oval track, or parents and children together can strap into two-passenger cars capable of reaching 40 km/h. After the racing is over—or for quick breaks between speedy bouts—passengers can retire to one of the picnic area's 10 tables, partaking in sustenance or tall tales about close finishes.
The 200-foot straightaway comes to an end in one of six wheel-testing curves. The Honda 5.5-horsepower engine hums in anticipation. The moment foot touches pedal, hydraulic brakes give their answer and the racing wheels cling to the textured concrete as the go-kart deftly whips through the turn. Coming up on the end of an eight-minute streak of adrenaline, racers zip past the final stretch of the 1/5-mile race track, tearing ahead of each other as the computerized timing system clocks each score to fuel future bragging rights and rematch challenges.
From Kart 2 Kart's café and bar, applause rises as family, friends, and opponents sizing up the competition send their appreciation down to the track, which they've been watching as they nosh on a selection of snacks and beverages. Juniors, meanwhile, wait their turn to hit the blacktop in age-appropriate Formula-K karts. Before strapping in, all racers receive instruction and a safety lesson, during which they learn how to operate the equipment, then strive to set records that can earn them a spot on the website's scoreboard.
The Gameyard's LAN gaming center fuels hours of video vision quests with multiple platforms and custom gaming PCs. Terrorize alien terrorists on gaming consoles loaded with titles for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Challenge friends on 11 custom gaming PCs, powered by NVidia graphics cards and boasting 19- to 23-inch LCD monitors crisp enough to make hedgehogs appear dangerously huggable. Digital samurais do battle from comfy chairs beneath bright graffiti murals that span The Gameyard's cyborg-friendly sanctuary.
Zap Zone's seven locations in Michigan and two locations in Canada each feature a unique combination of attractions—anything from bumper cars to the Jump Zone's cushioned obstacle course. In the laser-tag arena, both kids and adults demonstrate their teamwork skills by outscoring opponents in fast-paced games that take place inside black-lit mazes of neon-tinged hallways. Arcades also round out every location's attractions, tempting passersby to drop a few tokens on racing games and skee-ball, or a lot of tokens on the claw game filled with Fabergé eggs.
Revelers of all ages visit Gamerz USA for battlefield laser tag, an arcade room with a Dance Dance Revolution machine, and kids zone. In battlefield laser tag games, pretend soldiers fire infrared bullets under the guidance of a commanding officer. Players don heavy-duty vests that emit 100% eye-safe light and none of the foul odors that accompany ordinary flashlights. The lazer maze challenge has players navigating a web of green lasers in a bank vault-like enviroment, and the the Kids Zone offers a play area with slides and a ball pit for younger guests. After a few rounds of arcade games, guests can choose a prize or reward themselves with burgers, pizza, soda, or fresh-squeezed juice or Bears2Go.
Voted No. 4 in the Top 10 Birthday Chains for Kid Birthday Parties in 2010 by Parents magazine, Pump It Up pulses with inflatable play sets and actually encourages kids to bounce off the walls. Within the indoor playground, a stalwart staff oversees the neighborhood of bounce houses and air-filled playthings, such as a classic bounce castle and slick inflatable slide that cushions children's heartfelt reenactments of Cool Runnings. Throughout the week, families can pop in for open play, or tote along their own mini entourage for birthday-party packages complete with private rooms and complimentary invites. Parties come as straightforward packages or as themed events that place the birthday child in structured story adventures where they take on the role of a mighty and clever superhero or pirate captain that drank too much saltwater.