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.
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.
Starplex Cinemas Forney Stadium 12 adds a little extra shine to every screening with modern technology and screening rooms. Viewers are thrust right into the action of the film by 3-D projectors. Plush chairs—stacked stadium style—envelope audience members in comfort while also providing them with the unobstructed sightline required to see every production assistant’s name in the credits. Other welcome amenities include wall-to-wall screens, digital surround sound and projectors, and a concession stand that serves the theater’s signature $1 hot dogs.
The trusty team of Quarter Horses at Broken Bow Ranch escorts visitors over the sprawling pastures and winding trails that grace the 1,400-acre working cattle ranch. Their owner, Gay Leigh Bingham, draws upon 25 years of experience when teaching new riders the subtleties of proper horsemanship. During private and group riding lessons, she aims to teach riders the proper way to confidently command a horse so they can ride comfortably on trails or help equine companions practice self-control when trotting through apple orchards. Not content to stop at the saddle, Ms. Bingham also invites visitors to enjoy her land for such pastimes as dove and duck hunting.
There are few places left in the world where humans and hippopotamuses can swim peacefully side by side. In fact, Wet Zone may be the last. Haley, the loveable mascot, wanders around the water park in a floral-print dress with pink eye shadow accentuating her smile while she high-fives birthday boys and girls at on-site parties. Like a queen in her castle, sculptures of her speckle the park's various splash pools, look out over the geysers and showering pipes, and welcome aquatic adventurers to Turtle Cove and the colorful Kiddie Playground. And Haley also lends inspiration, fortifying wee ones with the gusto necessary to tackle the park's two giant water slides or age-specific swim lessons.
While kiddies splash on multi-level playhouses, adults can sneak away from the large lap pool to gear up for aquatic battle at the Water Wars game. Then families can reunite on land for a game of volleyball, or head over to Haley's Hunger Hut for some nachos or hot dogs. Private, grass-roofed cabanas give sun-shunners a place to dodge the heat as they chow down, and free Wi-Fi allows furtive check-ins with work or information transmissions with the mother ship. Yet no one has an excuse to stay dry for long?an on-site gift shop is stocked with bathing suits and towels to equip the ill-prepared for a day spent swimming.
The aquatic playland at Surf and Swim aims to bring the quintessential beach experience to a controlled water park. Inner tubes and their passengers float atop a wave pool's sprawling waters, splashing as the sun lovingly stares deep into their eyes. Pipes, plastic animals, and fountains pepper the kids area, and the aptly named Chill and Grill Cafe serves up burgers and fries. On select nights, the park transforms into an outdoor movie theater, where groups can swim and bob for their ticket stubs while watching a full-size screen.