It may sound clichéd, but ask the staff members at The Play Station about their most memorable experience, and they'll probably say a new one happens every day. Specifically, it's the moment when a child walks in, sees the three-level play center, and lets out a gasp of excitement. The 12,000-square-foot facility's tube slides, ball pits, and other recreational equipment blossomed from the owners' relatively simple idea: create a place where our kids can be active whenever it's yucky outside. Today, kids 12 and younger climb, crawl, and slide through the play center or hit the game room to win tickets redeemable for prizes such as toys and an all-inclusive weekend in Moon Vegas.
While kids expend their energy, parents can relax nearby and socialize, watch television, or enjoy a menu of snacks, such as mozzarella sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, and nachos. The Play Station's crew includes a team that organizes children's parties and books the facility for field trips, fundraisers, and private rentals.
Sponges and brushes glide across unfinished works of art beneath shelves brimming with more than 150 forms and 60 glazes at The Potters’ Obsession. Visitors thumb through inspiration books and wield stencils to color and paint mugs, bowls, and Gumby when he is going into witness protection. In the art-dappled space, warmth bleeds from a kiln, where the staff completes pieces and locks glazes into a sleek finish. The Potters’ Obsession also hosts special events, birthday parties, and painting packages to help Girl Scouts and Brownies to earn art badges.
NickelWorld hosts a selection of more than 100 games to entertain adventurous imaginations and quick-digited game wizards—and they all either cost just a nickel per play, or are free. While meandering through an arcade of more than 20 video games, patrons can slay aliens, henchmen, and the occasional evil cottontail along the way. Classics include Pac-Man, Galaga, and Frogger, in which amphibians halt oncoming traffic through persuasive arguments. After that, they can set off to visit more than 60 redemption games, in which sure-handed prowess translates to great prizes. And for those who just can't get enough of NickelWorld, the arcade also offers parties for up to 40 guests.
An award-winning organization, the Iowa Children’s Museum engages and expands the imaginations of youngsters with interactive exhibits and hands-on programs. The Move It! Dig It! Do It! event invites pintsized minds to stretch themselves around the enormous equipment wielded by construction professionals, farmers, and bus drivers, and then witness how each vehicle fits into the next to defend the galaxy as Voltron. More than 40 activities and machines ensure all-day entertainment. Tots can scramble into the driver’s seat of a fire truck for a hero’s-eye view of the engine’s three-alarm chili dispenser or enjoy a haystack ride. Create your own cement garden stone before retiring to the Volunteer Guild’s Dig It! Café for purchasable snacks and water divvied up out from under a big tent.
A procession of blips and blinks marches through Planet X's arcade room. The noise and neon spills over and accents the facility's surroundings, where guests can zap their least favorite cousins during laser tag, release pent-up road rage in bumper cars, or just stand, flabbergasted by the number of activities available. Though interactive entertainment is its bread and butter, Planet X also features a sports lounge with flat-screen TVs, beer, wine, and views of the kitchen staff tossing pizzas by hand.
Between the dark, black walls at The Lazer Maze, green beams of light stretch from one wall to another, striking anyone willing to venture through their neon labyrinth. Levels of difficulty vary as beginners and pros nimbly crouch, tumble, and Macarena over and under laser beams, trying to beat the best time. The staff also equips a 3000-square-foot party room with party lighting, music, fog, and bubbles for birthday parties and other social events.