LIFE The Place to Be is like a chameleon in the form of a giant 25,000-square-foot building. The space can serve many different purposes: a venue for weddings, the site of Sweet 16 parties, and a fun center with activities for all ages. Aside from the event space—which incorporates amenities such as projection screens and a sound system—the facility houses a rock-climbing wall, four mini AMF bowling alleys, and 3,000 square feet of arcade games.
In the middle of the floor, surrounded by 150 blinking and dinging arcade games, a 24-foot rock-climbing wall stretches to the ceiling. That's how jam-packed Sportime USA is with attractions. As if all those games weren't enough, there's the XD theater—a 4-D virtual ride that combines 3-D movies with specialized motion seats. Neon-lit laser tag continues the tech trend, and bumper cars and roller coasters provide old-fashioned fun. Batting cages, billiards, and a multilevel playground are only a few of the other attractions ready to entertain families and friends of all ages.
Fitness Cell Collective's disciples don't work out in a gym. Dubbed "The Compound," the Collective's roomy studio encompasses familiar fitness devices, such as kettlebells, as well as some unconventional equipment. Olympic-style rings dangle from the ceiling alongside suspension systems and ski machines, and a 40-foot-long set of monkey bars facilitates intense workouts and high-speed banana relays. With these tools, the certified trainers—who range from martial artists and professional weightlifters to dancers and triathletes—lead classes for all fitness levels. The classes—featured in New York magazine—range in scope to include kettlebell fitness, mixed martial arts, yoga, Pilates, and boot-camp training. The Compound houses more than just modern fitness equipment; postworkout, exercisers can purchase and refuel with fresh, locally made, organic snacks and signature protein drinks.
Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Beyond its roaring arcade and indoor amusement park, The Funplex decrees that 8,000 of its 100,000-square-foot kingdom be annexed to the Realm where fantasy game MagiQuest disperses Magis on heroic adventurers through an interactive and spellbinding semivirtual lair. Carefully choose your Magi alias and grab your secret-yielding loaner wand (a $2 value) before embarking on a fantastical adventure filled with distinguished wizards, enchanting pixies, and cunning dragons. Seasoned with mystical spells and motion sensors, wands respond to trees, mountains, and flat screens sprinkled throughout the Realm, sharing clues so Magi can complete honorable tasks or surprise wicked goblins with an unexpected hug. With unlimited play (a $14.95 value), Magis can entreat the hours to swallow them into the transformative wormhole of role-playing bliss.
The multitalented staff at Sweet & Sassy allow girls to walk in the slippers of their favorite fairytale princesses with an array of salon and spa services. Youngsters get gussied up for special occasions, such as tea parties with stuffed animals and UN delegates, with spa packages that include colorful manicures, soothing facials, and expert makeup applications. Sweet & Sassy’s birthday celebrations treat girls aged 4–13 to themed outings such as a Pop Star party, during which the birthday girl and her friends get dolled up to film a music video, which they can take home on a DVD.