Movable walls, luminous rocks, mirrors, ramps, and unexpected dead ends. These are just a few of the obstacles players face at Ultrazone Laser Tag, a two-level, 5,000-square-foot arena that, much like a spring-break DJ’s apartment, is always flooded with black light and fog. Before separating up to 36 players into three teams and setting them loose in the arena, a game master delivers rules and moves teammates to the vesting room, where they grab laser guns and flashing vests. As the beat of pulsing music hammers the arena, players stream into the field, launching beams at opponents and attempting to seize their strongholds. When players are hit they aren't eliminated from the action; a computer keeps a running tally of points throughout the mission and awards champion status to the team with the highest count after the game. The facility also includes an arcade packed with video games as well as air-hockey tables, pinball, and a snack area.
In 1976, Joan Barnes—a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children’s’ cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
At Inflatable Kingdom, kids can explore a whimsical empire built with color, imagination, and lots and lots of air. Inside the sprawling facility, children can bounce on towering castles, then careen down cushy slides. Inflatable Kingdom opens its world to the public during open-play sessions and birthday parties, which can be tailored to a special theme, including pirates, carnival, westerns, and obscure Secretaries of State. And Inflatable Kingdom also uses its shape-shifting space to host dances, weddings, teambuilding events, and other adult-related functions, which can be customized to your specifications.
For its 2012 Halloween season, Four Horsemen Haunted Attractions treats fright-seekers to a double helping of scares with two connected haunted houses spanning more than 18,000 square feet. The gut-wrenching walkthroughs kick off with Grimtales, a ghastly spectacle that brings out the horror hiding beneath the surface of the Brothers Grimm’s famous fairytales. Dressed in macabre interpretations of such characters as Little Red Riding Hood and the Pied Piper, Four Horsemen's actors elicit screams through dialogue and shocking reveals, elevating the genre beyond cheap-and-dirty scare tactics, such as jumping out from behind a door or dressing up like each guest’s high-school gym teacher. Pestilence plunges already on-edge patrons into a necromantic nightmare, walking them through the story of an evil cult that has begun to reanimate the dead. Scripted live-action sequences and seamlessly integrated video back up roving monsters, creating a uniquely immersive haunted experience.
Pump It Up's two indoor inflatable arenas bounce socked younglings high off the ground with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Trained, amiable staffers supervise fun-filled visits where parents can leap around with their kids through gargantuan, air-filled bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an air-filled obstacle course. Attendees can also focus their free play for special events, such as custom birthday parties and private team parties. These themed soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. Both giant arenas are climate controlled and maintained according to rigorous guidelines enforced by the well-trained staff and local police. Supplementing its thorough rule enforcement with expert installation and anchoring, Pump It Up holds itself to strict safety standards.
Close to half a century of history seeps through the ice at Winterhawks Skating Center, as evidenced by the wooden beams still arching across its ceiling. As the official practice facility of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks, the center echoes with slap shots, bodychecks, and figure eights throughout the year, hosting recreational hockey leagues and clinics for youths and adults as well as public skating sessions and lessons for all experience levels. Off the rink, an onsite pro shop helps players to upgrade their old equipment or replace the paisley furniture and shag carpets in the penalty box.