Summer carnivals arrive once a year to brighten up a dull parking lot and transform it into a seven-day wonderland. But when the week is over, they take away the flashing lights and excitement and leave behind nothing but vagrant scraps of litter and shattered milk jugs. To combat that feeling of emptiness, each of the four Thunder Road Family Fun Parks features family entertainment the whole year through.
At their Sioux Falls location, families and groups gathering for a work outing or birthday party eternally zip around oval go-kart tracks that are slick and polished to recreate cinematic stunt driving on a small scale. An 18-hole mini-golf course offers a glimpse of what the world would be like if the Vikings had invented golf instead of coercing the Scottish into inventing it. Euro bungee jumping, meanwhile, combines straps and trampolines to induce a weightless sensation and enable flips and jumps dripping with adrenaline. Classic family activities such as batting cages and bumper boats flank a Thunder Road original attraction: Human Foosball. Recent upgrades have included the addition of a Tilt-a-Whirl, Screaming Dragon roller coaster, and laser maze, where players are challenged to navigate their way through a field of laser beams without tripping the alarm.
Though The Dharma Room is a yoga and wellness studio, it often reverberates with the telltale sounds of a comedy club or a dentist's office with leaky nitrous-oxide containers. Owners Jill Johnson and Sean Gallup put a playful spin on the ancient practice during Laughter yoga classes, a style that mingles breathing exercises with spontaneous giggles. The sessions reflect an overall commitment to finding joy through the studio's yoga and holistic health services, which include massage, reiki, and meditation in addition to the class curriculum.
The Dharma Room's staff endorses acceptance of all guests regardless of experience level or age. Their workshops often stretch beyond the scope of traditional yoga, tapping into happiness reserves with tai chi and crystal-singing-bowl meditation.
For nearly a quarter century, Ultimate Golf & Academy founder Chad Westra has been instructing golfers of all abilities while developing original methods for improvement in his book and instructional DVD, The Ultimate Way. Through Chad's methods, golfers discover the components of a balanced swing, including the turn of the clubface and the point of impact. By focusing on clubface connection, the instructor asserts that golfers can develop natural swings attuned to their unique form and golf bag full of modified soup ladles. Ultimate Golf allows visitors to practice their swings on its 22-acre facility, which features a well-lit driving range, 19-hole miniature golf course, and digital golf simulator. The simulator allows golfers to play on digital replications of 100 legendary golf courses.
Nestled within Empire Mall, Xcite Family Fun Center enraptures youngsters with inflatables, video games, and tasty treats. Sock-clad kids bound across the center’s ever-changing selection of inflatables—which frequently includes Batman- and Disney princess-themed bouncers—navigate obstacle courses, and race down slides. The arcade entices players with games such as air hockey, skee-ball, and Star Wars Racer, and the enclosed toddler zone pairs wee ones with age-appropriate inflatables, slides, and coloring-book versions of the tax code.
In between rounds of bouncing and gaming, kids can reenergize with grilled-cheese sandwiches, pretzels, or pizza at the snack bar. Open-play sessions run until 9 p.m. Monday–Saturday, and parents or grandparents can accompany their children for free.
Swiss army knives are famed for the many vital tools hidden in the nooks and crannies of their surprisingly small exterior; Star Performance Complex takes a similar approach to educating kids in fitness. Their instructors offer swimming, gymnastics, tae kwon do, and dance lessons to tykes who enjoy competitive athleticism. They also provide day and night care that combines structured activity with open play in their fun gyms, which feature not only gymnastics equipment but inflatable play houses. Other teachers focus on team sports, training kids to work together in softball, soccer, and cheer. All of this – excepting the swim lessons – takes place in their single, colorful facility full of squeaky hardwood, soft mats, and all the equipment a kids needs to build a strong body.
All manner of monsters prowl the halls of the Sioux Falls Jaycees Haunted House. Sadistic clowns smile from shadowed corners, herding visitors into a blood-spattered room where a ghoul in a straitjacket waits. Strobe lights and fog convince the senses that they've entered an otherworldly dimension or a very dusty camera, concealing the ghastly robotics and props lurking around each bend?such as a leering, demonic child named Hex. Though the attraction seeks to terrify, its ultimate goal is far more altruistic: ticket profits go to the Sioux Falls Jaycees, a community-service group whose volunteers don masks and gallons of fake blood to staff the entire house.