Owner Darlene Olson holds court over Merle Hay Lanes’ sleek bowling lanes, where the sounds of laughter and pins crashing fills the air. An Olson family heirloom since 1993, Merle Hay caters to amateurs and pin-toppling veterans alike with open bowling and league play for a variety of age and skill levels. Bowlers quench competition-induced thirsts at Bowlwinkles Lounge with a formidable lineup of drink specials. The bowling alley also plays host to a variety of special events including birthday parties and corporate outings, preventing coworkers from having to bowl in the alley behind the office.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Boston Brass enthralls audiences with stylized performances of eclectic musical arrangements. Like sailors to the Sirens, assorted audiences are drawn to the group's diverse horn-blowing backgrounds, including classical compositions and contemporary jazz numbers. No strangers to the limelight, Boston Brass has performed in 49 states and 21 countries, been featured on The CBS Early Show, NPR's Performance Today, and The Great American Brass Band Festival, and recorded several albums.
Inside the historic, renovated Waverly Palace Theatre, first-run releases splash across three screens as guests gobble snacks from the concession stand. Seats equipped with lumbar support prop up weary backs as the sounds of screeching tires, exploding fortresses, and wisecracking babies escape from the speakers of a Dolby Surround Sound EX system. As guests exit, they can take in the brick exterior of the theater, which maintains its classic, glowing marquee and art-deco façade.
For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.
So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.
During galaxy bowling, Cadillac Lanes turns futuristic with the help of a space-age-evoking light and sound show. Even under the glow of traditional lighting, the alley brims with modern technology, such as automatic scoring and retractable bumpers. A trove of lightweight to heavy bowling balls allows players of all muscle masses to scatter pins without straining their muscles. In between 10-frame games, patrons can maneuver joysticks in the arcade or refuel at the snack bar. The venue also welcomes birthday celebrations with party packages complete with decorations that create a joyful atmosphere, rather than celebrating with impromptu bowling-ball confetti.:m]]