At Magic Lantern Theatres, darkened auditoriums with flickering screens draw audiences into magical worlds where fish can talk, motorcycles leap canyons, and love comes even for those who eat crackers in bed. The partnering multiplex theatres and cinemas show recently released blockbuster flicks at 15 locations spread across Canada, each of which retains its own unique personality and honours any historic roots. In Edmonton, the Princess Theatre’s original 1915 auditorium, complete with balcony, golden drapes, and red walls, accommodates moviegoers with babies or pet hyenas inside a soundproof cry room. In Saskatchewan, the circa-1930 Roxy Theatre preserves the ambience of a Spanish courtyard. As guests find their auditoriums at the Ontario locations, they can admire giant murals by local artist Fred Harrison.
Little Ray's Reptile Zoo is a grand hotel for cold-blooded critters overseen by animal enthusiasts Paul "Little Ray" Goulet and his wife Sheri Goulet. At their new location in Hamilton, they host one of the largest sanctuaries in Ontario for unwanted reptiles. Meanwhile, the renovated Ottawa location features 25 permanent exhibits, a nature centre, and a hands-on room. Born from the joy Little Ray experienced sharing his personal collection of reptiles with school children, the zoo now encompasses a variety of exhibits and daily feeding demonstrations showcasing more than 150 animals.
The expert staff—which has trained keepers at other animal facilities on proper husbandry and correct presentation—safely introduces visitors to the animals which include giant snakes, tarantulas, and more. The zoo is open daily for corporate groups, birthday parties, and everyday animal lovers to tour the reptile environs and educational displays. The reptile zoo hosts large private-party and function rooms and a jungle spa where pythons receive hydrating wraps to combat scaly skin.
At iPlay, gamers of all ages shoot, race, and dogfight on 34 networked PC gaming systems that play a library of more than 400 games. Escape zombies in Left 4 Dead 2, or use a racing-wheel controller to drift, brake, and quickly drop off laundry in Need for Speed: Underground. Golfers tee up in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008, and strategists go online to fight futuristic battles in StarCraft II. Meanwhile, fingers furiously fly over buttons, while eyes gaze at a 65-inch HDTV attached to an Xbox 360 console and an out-of-use antenna with separation issues. Parents can entertain kids on a hot or rainy afternoon by sending them racing in a virtual 750-horsepower stock car or by strapping them into a computer chair to dogfight over the South Pacific.
Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners attending Monkey Around Play & Learn Centre for daycare might wonder whether they're awake or dreaming. Sure, they get to participate in fun educational activities led by qualified staff, such as crafting family trees or staging an outdoor car wash with play vehicles. But … a roller rink? A multilevel play structure that looks like a jungle gym? A 50-foot inflatable obstacle course that ends with a triumphant luge down a mega-slide? Kids might think the place was designed by Santa Claus himself, or the culinary genius who invented peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
They're not far off. The family who created the centre came up with the idea while on vacation, after taking shelter from inclement weather at a recreation facility in Granby. They spent countless hours researching different types of facilities and suppliers, and finally decided upon an innovative business model that combined entertainment with learning. The results of their hard work—and insight gained from their own family experiences—are little details that make the place a favourite of both adults and kids. Bathrooms without entry doors prevent germ spreading and finger pinching, and multiple windows in each room allow for an abundance of spirit-lifting natural light. All the exits of the custom-designed play structure lead kids to one central area that allows parents to relax in the snack-bar area while still keeping an eye on their kids.
In addition to child care, the centre offers annual memberships and hosts birthday parties during which tikes can play arcade-style games and redeem tickets in the Stuff Shop.
Dedicated to fostering imaginative playtime for children, Midway Family Fun Park?s 50,000-square-foot space bustles with young adventurers with climbing, jumping, and riding on a slew of indoor attractions. Well-trained employees oversee the indoor kiddie train and helm two 25-foot rock-climbing walls to ensure the safety of all scalers; young sprouts can also hone flexibility and balance amid the jungle gym?s ball pit and slides. Outfitted with a number of entertaining and challenging obstacles, the nine-hole black light mini-golf course grants clubbers a chance to show off their putting prowess on scaled-down greens.
Guests also have access to the bustling arcade, which requires tokens for play, or can stop for sustenance such as a speciality pizza at Max's Bistro. Midway Family Fun Park also offers full-service party planning for birthdays and other special events. Staff swoop in to take care of everything from set-up and activities to cake and goodie bags, allowing parents to shoot home movies and stage bloopers for the DVD extras.
A laser-tag arena, a miniature bowling alley, and a jungle gym. These dissimilar locales, as well as a slew of other interactive attractions, come together at Funhaven. Webs of neon-green lasers fill the confines of Laser Frenzy, where players solve an ever-changing puzzle amid glow-in-the-dark decor. Similarly, the laser-tag arena encloses warring squadrons in a stylized jungle filled with walls, leaves, and actors researching roles as Tarzan. Back under normal lighting, double-redundant auto-belay systems help climbers creep up a 20-foot climbing wall, and a three-storey jungle gym features Ballocity cannons. Funhaven also boasts an array of video and prize games, simulators, bumper cars, and more. The center hosts birthday and group events, and serves up fresh-baked pizza and other treats?such as 10 flavours of frozen yogurt with more than 50 topping options?at an on-site restaurant.