Housing whiz-bang activities sprung to life from the mind of owner and game designer J. Richard Oltmann, Enchanted Castle & Haunted Trails coax thrills from the young and young at heart. As bumper cars clunk together and an arcade rings with the peal of 250 games, Enchanted Castle’s 60,000 square-foot space fills with scenes fit for dream-like days of timeless tomfoolery. A laser tag arena hosts light-based combat, a miniature golf course tests putting mettle, and an indoor go-kart track lets driver reenact the time that the Indianapolis 500 was hosted inside a local gymnasium. Platefuls of wings, pizzas, and sandwiches dot tabletops in the dining area, where visitors can feast in front of karaoke, big screen TVs, and an animatronics stage show featuring in-house band the Jammin’ Jesters. Amusing on a larger, spookier scale, Haunted Trails ushers guests into a 14-acre entertainment complex with two 18-hole miniature golf courses, three outdoor go-kart tracks, batting cages, laser tag, and ghoulishly themed rides for youngsters, including the Monster Hop or Boneshaker. Five acres of picnic grove invite up to 2,000 guests to celebrate events, munch on the restaurant's desserts, or the participate in the world’s third-largest game of duck-duck-goose.
A green flag cuts through the air, signaling rows of Sodi RX7 karts to throttle up their 200cc Honda GX engines and roar around the quarter-mile track. Inside the 40,000-square-foot facility that houses these karts, Chicago Race Factory's staff provides safety briefings and protective helmets to drivers, scheduling track time in advance or penciling walk-ins into the next available race. The track is also open to parties for birthdays, social gatherings, and corporate team-building events. Recognizing man's natural need for speed, they have formed competitive and league racing for true gearheads who want more laps around their racer-designed track, whose tire border prevents captive Michelin men from escaping back into the wild.
At Fleetwood Roller Rink, skaters glide across a lustrous 75'x165' floor under a rainbow of vibrant lights that have illuminated patrons for 50 years. Furnished with rental equipment, patrons can swiftly perform tricks or recite the complete works of Homer before refueling with pizza, hot dogs, and candy dispensed from a fully stocked snack shop. The full-service facility is a frequent site of fundraisers and events, and staff members can devise comprehensive birthday party packages that include such merrymaking accouterments as cake, balloons, and tax forms filled out in the style of Mad Libs. Skaters of all experience levels can sharpen their skills during weekly lessons and open skating sessions.
The delighted squeals of playing children reverberate off of Little Monkey Bizness’s brightly hued walls, imbuing the space with an atmosphere of joyful energy throughout the day. The indoor play space welcomes youngsters age 8 and under to scurry in for hours of unstructured play on its well-maintained equipment, and an art room keeps imaginations fired up. A separate space for babies grants kids aged 6 months to 1 year a safe space where they can practice their crawling skills. Private party rooms facilitate rousing renditions of "Happy Birthday," and an onsite café keeps tummies from grumbling thanks to a collection of kid-friendly snacks and adult-friendly coffee.
After health, the most important thing parents want for their children is a good education, and that means learning inside the classroom and out. But if learning becomes simply memorizing facts in a textbook, it quickly turns into a chore, leading kids to lives of mindless entertainment and ignoring the last 12 mystery ingredients on junk-food labels.
To combat this, The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn exposes children to the arts, sciences, and industry with a series of engaging exhibits that uphold the standards set by the Illinois State Board of Education. These exhibits occupy every inch of their two-story facility, giving kids hands-on experience with concepts such as cause and effect, gravity, and motion. Painting and dress-up theaters cultivate healthy imaginations, and the infant tummy-time zone allows even the tiniest guests to flex their neck muscles and reach stuffed-animal friends. In addition to daily visitors, The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn welcomes school field trips and family birthday parties.