With paintball gear on, 10,000 sq. ft. can seem like a vast jungle. Specifically, one where the animals have figured out how to operate paintball markers. The outdoor paintball arena at Celebration Station hosts friendly competitions between players of all skill level, who fire salvos from behind obstacles. That competitive zone only makes up a small portion of the fun, however. Outside alone, visitors find a towering rock-climbing wall, batting cages, and a go-kart track that twists and turns across a quarter mile. Bumper boats collide nearby, while waterfalls cascade down the landscapes of an 18-hole mini-golf course.
Arcade tokens take over indoors, where 100 games present visitors with a challenging dilemma: should they master every one of the racing simulators, or take a break for a game of laser tag? Luckily, they can ponder their choices over a meat lovers pizza at the onsite restaurant.
Splash Kingdom Waterparks bring a bit of the ocean to Texas and Louisiana. Well, that's if the ocean was filled with twisting water slides and the occasional snack stand. The Splash Kingdom family consists of waterparks in Canton, Texas, Hudson Oaks, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, with another location set to open in Greenville Park, Texas in 2015. Lazy rivers take visitors on leisurely floats around each of these parks, while giant wave pools simulate ocean tides and shake up floating inner tubes.
Each park also houses a kids' area as well as its own set of unique aquatic thrills. At Canton, The Royal Flush takes riders down a fast, twisting body slide that ends in a 4-foot free fall. Shreveport's side-by-side Bonzai slides send dueling riders down steep, face-first descents. A Wild West theme defines the attractions at Hudson Oaks. At the park's Snake Pit, five slides take the form of giant snakes, including a green mamba and a copperhead. Each species goes through a different set of twists and turns.
Splash Kingdom Waterparks is a Christian-run organization with a straightforward mission statement: "To glorify God while providing a safe and fun recreation experience for families."
Gators and Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo invites all ages to watch gators wrestle each other in the water and chomp down their meals. The zoo was established in 2006 to raise awareness about the habits and survival techniques of wild animals, giving visitors a better understanding of all creatures, from alligators to pet hamsters to the turtles who fight crime from the sewers. The facility doesn't just contain reptiles, either; it also keeps kangaroos, capybaras, goats, and a Scottish cow.
Each weekend through the harvest season, YesterLand Farm welcomes visitors of all ages to explore several acres’ worth of classic country activities, whether they’re just experiencing their first falling leaves or feeling nostalgic for autumns of old. More than 30 attractions spring up around the open fields, from a restored 1952 miniature train to a small ferris wheel and a vintage rollercoaster. As explorers try to navigate a corn maze’s dense stalks, guests can head to collect gourds to make into smaller pumpkins. Both when the sky starts to darken and during the day, Yesterland stays aglow with handheld beams in the flashlight maze and campfires, around which visitors roast hot dogs and s’mores over terrifying tales of ghosts and deciding college majors.
Sometimes, it only takes one family to ruin a neighborhood. In the case of the Voodoo Bayou in 1901, Baron Michael Verdun and his wife, Lady Cassandra, were the ones to blame. The psychopathic werewolf and his vampire bride set about building a menacing Antebellum-style mansion atop an old cemetery, where they began creating twisted human-animal hybrids. Enraged, the townsfolk set the mansion aflame, burning its inhabitants in the process. But the Baron and his wife never truly left.
Today, their spirits still inhabit Thrillvania Haunted House Park's nearly 50 acres, which encompass four distinct haunted attractions. A giant brain controls the clowns who rule Cassandra’s Labyrinth of Terror, a twisting maze of black-lit hallways and neon colors. Monsters roam outdoors at Sam Hain’s Trail of Torment, and Mortimer Thorn continues to perform cruel experiments within the run-down church known as Thorn Hall. However, the epicenter of terror remains Verdun Manor, the decaying—and occasionally flame-throwing—mansion.
Spooky origin stories aside, the manor is actually the invention of the late human Lance Pope. Mr. Pope grew up fascinated by old mansions, monsters, and haunted houses. So together with a design team—including former Disney Imagineers—Mr Pope built a sprawling park with more hidden scares than his childhood self could have imagined. His creations have garnered many fans and led to ample media attention, including a feature on Travel Channel's America’s Scariest Haunted Attractions.
At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.