Madame Tussaud began crafting wax likenesses in 1770s Paris, and a sense of history clings to her wax museums around the globe today?according to the Travel Channel?s Ghost Adventurers, the location is haunted by unsettled spirits. By day, the collection of wax sculptures fills the serene exhibits with characters ranging from daredevil Evel Knievel (complete with his original Harley Davidson and good-luck teddy bear) to Lady Gaga and Whoopi Goldberg. A Hugh Hefner figure, wearing the Playboy magnate?s signature smoking jacket, reclines on a bed, and a nightclub-themed section of the museum honors Las Vegas?s entertainment history with a waxen Elvis and Wayne Newton.
Velvet ropes no longer cordon figures off from the public, granting guests up-close-and-personal photo ops. As the world's best-known wax attraction, guests can experience the glitter and fame of their favorite stars first-hand by walking down the red carpet, striking a pose for the paparazzi, getting on stage with pop stars, addressing the world alongside famous leaders, or challenging legendary athletes in faux competition. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas honors its spooky roots with special late-night Scream events, a shriek-inducing tour through a maximum-security prison set interspersed with ghoulish wax figures and live actors. Today, visitors can experience the wonders of Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and beginning in 2015, Orlando.
The surf culture of the 1960s lives on at Cowabunga Bay. A wood-paneled station wagon, bright floral beach umbrellas, and a 1967 Volkswagen bus parked alongside the lazy river all showcase the water park's vintage aesthetic. The 35,000-square-foot wave pool even features a backdrop inspired by drive-in theaters, allowing visitors to debate the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey while swells roll into shore.
Despite its sunny vintage trappings, Cowabunga Bay boasts thoroughly modern attractions. The Zuma Zooma slide, for instance, drops riders from a launch capsule 73 feet above the ground and sends them flying around a 360-degree horizontal loop before they splash into a pool. The Point Panic slide provides a different sort of thrilling experience, as visitors twist and turn within a pitch-black slide illuminated by occasional bursts of color. A separate section of smaller slides and splash pools welcomes younger guests, and casual snack shops and cafes serve pizza, nachos, and classic pineapple whip.
Sun Buggy Fun Rentals’ dune buggies shred the sand all around the Las Vegas area. Designed and built in-house, these buggies are ideal for exploring off-road locales—including Vegas’s dunes and Valley of Fire State Park—without getting stuck in the sand or pulled over by the sand police. Customers can choose whether they want to ride with a guide, or maneuver a dune buggy themselves. Sun Buggy also organizes signature chases, during which visitors pursue one of Sun Buggy’s expert “dunies” through more than 15,000 acres of dunes, gravel, hills, valleys, and trails. Other rentals include ATVs and exotic cars, ranging from Mini Coopers to Ferraris.
Strap on your unthinking cap and let loose on Primm Valley Casino Resorts' family-friendly attractions, ranging from thrilling coasters to the gentle, youngster-bouncing Frog Hopper. Riders taller than 4 feet can take the plunge on the Turbo Drop, which boasts a 170-foot vertical free fall at 45 mph, or The Desperado, a twisting coaster with more banks than a financial district and more giggle-induced glee than insider trading. The Adventure Canyon Log Flume refreshes riders with water while stimulating their trigger fingers with laser-light target shooting in splashy surroundings. If brick-and-mortar amusement doesn't crank your cerebral cortex, take a ride in the Maxflight Cyber Coaster, which virtually simulates an authentic rollercoaster down to the last detail.
Pump It Up of Reno/Sparks is a private, indoor recreation facility that houses all things bounceable and specializes in both private parties and public open-play sessions. Parents can promote social development and physical fitness as wee ones jump around like pint-sized pinballs in any of the many bounce houses, obstacle courses, and inflatable slides.
Inside Bouncerz Indoor Party Center, kids can plunge down cushy slides, vault off of springy bounce-house floors, or reign over pumped-up castle turrets that are spread over a 6,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility. Bouncerz also keeps tykes occupied with an arcade and dodgeball games, and parents can kick back with free WiFi. Each day, staffers clean and inspect the facility to ensure safe, sanitary conditions and to rescue abandoned action figures. It's also possible to set up parties at Bouncerz, or you can turn your own front yard into a mini carnival by renting inflatables from the facility.