Wayne Standefer, the head pilot at Balloon Adventures, is well versed in Dallas-area scenery and topography, knowledge that helps him regale passengers with information during flights. The adventure begins as the aircraft is brought to life before your eyes. Once his balloon reaches its full height—more than 10 stories—Standefer invites you inside the tightly woven wicker basket to soar above rooftops and trees and dip low over fields and rivers. Total flight time is usually around an hour, though the whole experience can take three times as long from start to finish.
Balloon Adventures also charters its services for weddings, arranges surprise flights for special occasions, and offers instruction in specific tasks such as rigging the balloon, navigating in-flight, and shooing away flocks of paper airplanes. In addition, the company participates in hot-air-balloon festivals, where clouds of bright purple, orange, and yellow balloons fill the daytime sky or illuminate the festival grounds at night.
Several years ago, Branndon Bargo and his brother set out on a mammoth adventure. Not sure what they were after, they biked 4,000 miles to Baja, Mexico from Alaska and found themselves submerged in the open waters of the Pacific, scuba diving with great white sharks. After a harrowing climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska, Branndon began questioning his motivations for staying at his desk job. So in 2005, he gently kissed his cubicle goodbye and founded Live Adventure as a means of encouraging others to challenge themselves while discovering deeper connections with the world around them. Within Cedar Hill State Park, Brandon organizes team-building programs and encourages groups to kayak, synchronize swim, and fish on Joe Pool Lake. Other expeditions include rock-climbing outings and custom guided jaunts around the planet.
Since its opening in 1988, Ellen's Amusement Center has provided visitors with a full range of family fun, including mini golf, go-karts, and paintball. The 18-hole miniature golf course is littered with such whimsical obstructions as a diminutive oil rig, a mini rollercoaster, and the obligatory windmill. Racers negotiate hairpin curves on the tire-lined go-kart track. A crossfire of chromatic projectiles enlivens four paintball fields, where players dive behind bunkers on the speedball courses or camouflage themselves as commando squirrels on the woods field. The facility also boasts batting cages equipped for hardball and softball as well as a redemption arcade filled with two stories' worth of video games.
In 1956, the owners of Cedar Hill Roller Rink stuck a sky-blue sign on the edge of Main Street. With only the word "Skating" displayed in retro block lettering, the sign called out to travelers, urging them to stop inside for classic four-wheeled entertainment. Today, the rink's hardwood surface provides smooth gliding after five decades upkeep, upbeat music, and upstanding gentlemen who know how to ask a gal to dance despite having untimely sweaty palms.
House of Courage exists as one of the area's only schools certified in C.O.B.R.A. self-defense, a method intended to promote personal safety and confidence with techniques that anybody can learn and store in their bag of tricks. Halt potential attackers after six hours of training, which is based on law-enforcement tactics and criminal-psychology theory and intended for use in plausible situations, such as being mugged or thwarting an evil genius from illegally double-parking his zeppelin. House of Courage's versatile instructors boast experience in karate, CPR, mixed martial arts, and righteous one-liners. The one-day clinic generally takes place on Saturdays, and the school's full schedule is available here.