One inch off the asphalt, roaring by at 65 mph. Because On Track Xperience houses a fleet of NasKarts powered by Honda engines, this kind of wind-in-your-hair action is possible. Helmets, of course, keep wind out of hair, though, while drivers 16 and older zip around Thunderhill Raceway's banked oval track. Each race burns up 10 laps and lasts about five minutes. Those looking to master their lap times can attend speed school and learn the ins and outs from a former pro racer and trainer. And those interested in a little competition can join eight-week racing leagues. Groups can also navigate the oval circuit for birthdays or corporate events that can accommodate up to 400 for team-building racing events where winners are showered in a business-card tickertape parade.
"It's like throwing a party every day," Byron Severance, who co-owns The Jumpy Place along with his wife, Cathy, told the Hays Free Press. "It's the most fun I've ever had in a job." Byron and Cathy's indoor playground—kept immaculate with a strict socks-only policy, daily disinfectant washes, and an unbudging ban on trashcan-dwelling Grouches—relieves the endemic of excess energy common to youths aged 10 and younger. As children bounce in and slide down air-filled fortresses, adults entertain themselves with complimentary coffee, WiFi, and cartoon-free television. Both locations are open every day except Tuesday, and each admission grants all-day access that allows families to come and go as they please.
Patrons descend upon the Buda Beer and Polka Fest to set eardrums in motion with lively accordion music and indulge taste buds in delectable German eats. Visitors roam the park imbibing in traditional German revelry as they fill their bellies with authentic cuisine such as schweinshaxe—the Bavarian-favorite roasted ham hock—or apfelküchle—a succulent dessert of fried apple cakes. An expansive pavilion shelters the stage from rainy weather and the sun's piercing gaze as traditional dancers do the hula to polka bands' spirited Bavarian oompah beats churned out in 2/4 time. In addition to German-inspired entertainment, such as arts and crafts, a gut-busting sausage-eating competition challenges visitors' stomach capacity and the sexiest-fräulein-costume contest encourages guests to don tantalizing lederhosen get-ups or ankle-revealing burlap sacks to impress the panel of judges.
Although Esther's Follies' variety show of music, magic, and comedy recalls the vaudevillian entertainment of yesteryear (albeit with a more acerbic modern bent), the nostalgia goes beyond just the performances. The longstanding venue and comedy troupe was named after Esther Williams, the Golden Age starlet whose career as a professional swimmer led to numerous iconic MGM films. Posters for several of these pictures are plastered throughout the space, and an undersea mural bustling with brightly-hued coral, kaleidoscopic marine life, and even a Loch Ness monster further contributes to Esther's otherworldly, aquatic theme. The magical environment, along with the shows themselves, have wowed audiences and Austin Chronicle critics alike.
On the production end, Esther's Follies busts guts in record speed with satirical quips on current events; relevant parodies; and high-stepping, fast-paced comedy sketches. Resident magician Ray Anderson keeps things light with levitation illusions known to dazzle crowds. As the Follies cast ignites into choral skewerings of front-page newsmakers, audiences will laugh so hard that giggles come out their noses.
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