Terrapin Adventures never fails to live up to its name—even their swing set gets the stomach fluttering with excitement. To be fair, though, the swing in question is anything but the traditional apparatus you'd find at a city park. It seats three people and starts its trajectory 40 feet above the ground, generating 2Gs of force as it swishes riders back and forth over the landscape. The park's other attractions are equally exhilarating. On the high ropes course, visitors attached to sturdy safety harnesses cross 18 traverses situated between lofty platforms; some must be tackled via a rickety bridge, while others require leaps of faith. The 43-foot high climbing tower offers 10 routes up and down, including a head-first downward climb over the Rainbow Serpent. Otherwise, the 330-foot-long zipline sends visitors gliding through the treetops at speeds of up to 20 mph, fast enough to beat the USA track team's star squirrel.
This sort of deft dodging is required at the 5,000-square-foot arena in Owings Mills. Teams compete in one of ten missions during each game of Frontal Assault tactical laser tag, which are inspired by popular video games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.
The snack bar at XP Laser Sport reenergizes players with Polar Shock slushies and personal pizzas. Meanwhile, windmills, loops, and carousels obstruct the path of LED mini-golf balls tumbling down the nine-hole indoor course. The facility's projection screens broadcast the latest angry faces of professional sports coaches, and two 25-foot screens let up to eight guests compete in Xbox 360 games such as Mortal Kombat.
It's not enough for the inflatable jungle gyms at Marley Bounce Party to cushion kids' bouncing feet; they also have to tickle their imaginations. In one circular bounce house, cushy palm trees and dinosaurs whisk kiddos to the prehistoric tropics. Four turrets surround a castle-style house, where tykes can careen down one of two slides while pretending to flee from a Medieval dragon or a somewhat more intelligent Enlightenment-era dragon, all while three new bouncers keep everyone safe. In addition to its plush playgrounds, Marley Bounce Party offers two party rooms that can host up to 25 kids and their parents, as well as a baby-changing station and cold drinks and juices available for purchase.
Go-Kart Track is precisely what it sounds like?an outdoor go-kart track designed for drivers and passengers of nearly all ages. Broken up into six-lap sessions, each turn on the windy track lets visitors put the pedal to the metal as they hug corners and zip past stacks of tires, which serve as a reminder to the go-karts what happens to them if they misbehave.
Open on weekends year-round, plus weekdays from March??September, Go-Kart Track hosts single- and double-kart races both during the day and beneath the lights and the moon's rubbernecking at night. Visitors ages 8 and older and 54 inches or taller can drive the single carts; however, only visitors ages 18 and up can pilot a double kart, but kids as young as 3 can ride along.
Many of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks feature sparkling springs, rolling countryside, and wooded trails. Others, however, feature 230-feet waterslides and giant plastic mermen. That?s because NOVA Parks includes a handful of recreational splash havens with towering slides, giant dumping buckets, and pristine pools.
Each waterpark is characterized by its own theme and unique whimsical d?cor, from the massive parrot that watches over Pirate's Cove to the lofty palm trees and grass huts that speckle Volcano Island. The latter location even boasts a landscaped mini golf course with 18 holes and challenging obstacles. All of the parks feature their own snack bars, where servers sling kid-friendly treats such as funnel cakes showered in sweet powdered sugar and popsicles with homework answers written on the sticks.
It?s 1:29 p.m. and the wave pool at Great Waves Waterpark has been calm for nine minutes. The mood on the surface, however, is anything but. An anticipatory energy has been transmitted through the water as sunbathers migrate from the sun deck, giddy youngsters from the various kids? areas, and thrill seekers from one of the park?s waterslides. The anticipation ends at 1:30 p.m. when three 80-horsepower motors begin to churn the large fans that whip the pool?s 475,000 gallons of water into waves as high as four feet for 10 minutes. This increment of waves?10 minutes on, 10 minutes off?runs like clockwork at the 20-acre facility, which also features dry attractions such as miniature golf, batting cages, and grassy areas for practicing the backstroke.
In addition to offering sun-soaked thrills of simulated waves, the park's Paradise Play boasts 30-foot slides, pogo sticks, rock walls, and a non-aqueous playground area. A faux beach with sand invites revelers to unwind while snacking on a funnel cake purchased from Riptide Caf?, while a nearby play pool with pint-sized slides lets little riders get into the summertime mix. After a full day of sliding and swimming, guests may purchase souvenirs from the Shark Shack gift shop.