The sound of feet slapping on the padded ground and little voices twisted by constant motion fill Xtreme Play. Jeff and Julie Austin, owners of the play center, have five children, so they are familiar with the busy chorus. The duo and its staff are also well prepared to keep an eye on youngsters as they bounce from inflatable obstacles or squeal down slides. At a miniature arcade, small hands grab Wii and PlayStation controllers, simulating adventures through castles and the civil-service tests to become a castle inspector. The babble of special events drifts from private party rooms, where pizzas fuel fetes.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
For more than a decade, The Hitting Zone has helped baseball and softball players hone their slugging skills with top-notch batting cages. Its newly renovated facility includes seven new batting cages, new token machines, professional-quality turf, and enhanced lighting. While three cages devour tokens and spit out speedy pitches, schedule-savvy batters claim one of four regular cages for a designated hour of ball-pummeling against a Cy Young android lookalike.
Northcross Lanes at the Lake facilitates friendly competition for families, groups, and individuals with 40 bowling lanes, a laser-tag dome arena, and a full video arcade. Bright lights ricochet from skee-ball and air-hockey games, where players compete for tickets they can redeem for prizes at the game counter. Birthday party packages include food from the onsite kitchen, which serves cheeseburgers, hot sandwiches, and made-from-scratch pizzas. The 41st Lane Lounge hosts several pool tables along with regular karaoke and occasional sets from live bands.
An abundant number of recreational activities fill the space at Purple Planet 3-D Mini Golf. With black lights illuminating patches of neon paints, the indoor and always air-conditioned cooled mini-golf course bends the mind with challenging greens and mind-bending visuals such as aliens and floating satellites. As they navigate the course’s vortex tunnel and fog-filled corridors, golfers wear 3-D glasses, making obstacles appear to pop out and transforming every hole into an even deeper hole. Purple Planet visitors can also hone their billiards skills with games of pool or try their hand at the games at an on-site arcade.
Kids have free reign over Busy Bodies Exploratory’s indoor playground. Inside the carpeted expanse, children can clamber around a school-bus-shaped play structure, lay out a toy meal on a child-sized dining room set, and solve rainbow-colored puzzles to impress the parents of other little ones, in addition to participating in arts and crafts and painting. While the playground's myriad stations are often the site of supervised, unstructured play, the center also hosts preschool from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. During class, students learn about a variety of topics, from science and math to arts and crafts, music, and reading.
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