Benjamin Allen believes outdoor pursuits can positively influence those in need. This belief has led him all over the continent, building a ropes course for an orphanage in Mexico and setting up two courses for troubled youth at Provo Canyon School, a bit closer to home. Wanting to share his knowledge of nature with the public, he set up a course, CLAS Ropes Course, near Utah Lake nearly 20 years ago. Benjamin and his crew have since erected more than 50 ropes courses around the country, continuing to inspect ropes and train others how to run them.
CLAS Ropes Course continues to grow each year, creating obstacles such as a giant swing that releases passengers 40 feet in the air, a 400-foot zipline that whizzes through forest canopy, and a "leap of faith," where adventure seekers jump from a treetop platform to a trapeze. A log balance beam hung 30 feet above the ground and a 24-foot-tall rock-climbing tower test agility and endurance, and a fleet of 20 canoes lets paddlers navigate a mile and a half of river. Many of these structures play host to team-building activities focused on developing a group's creativity and tolerance for hearing one another sing. Staff members tailor their instruction to families, dating groups, or athletic teams. They often apply their approach to athletes, such as a professional golfer who traveled all the way from Texas hoping to conquer her fear of not qualifying for tournaments. She defeated the log balance beam, departed victorious, and qualified during her next tryout two weeks later.
When a great white shark approaches with opened jaws, the last thing you want to do is swing a golf club. But when that same scenario presents itself at Laser Assault, swinging a golf club is exactly what you should do—the path through those jaws leads to one of nine holes on the black-light mini-golf course. Other menacing creatures such as snakes and T-rexes guard the remaining eight holes, which wind their way through murals of aquatic critters and verdant jungle brush.
More creepy neon wall paintings illumine Laser Assault's two-level laser tag arena, whose labyrinthine corridors twist and turn past clusters of barrels and through clouds of fog—a one-minute video grants a vivid tour. Outside the arena, only an air hockey table glows inside the arcade, a non black-light space with classic games such as Hoop Fever—the more exciting sequel to Hoop Indifference.
At each of Fat Cats' five locations, strikes and spares light up the screens of automatic scoring systems. Bowling balls roll and skip down lanes in normal conditions, against retractable bumpers, or under the fluorescent glow of Thunder Alley, when the facility transforms into a music-filled fusion of a bowling alley and dance club. Each lane's crashing pins echo the softer clacking of putters at the glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course and the ringing lightshow of the arcade. Elsewhere, the scents of pizza and deep-fried bowling balls waft through the fun haven. Each Fat Cats location partners with different restaurants, including The Pizza Factory at its Salt Lake facility and Champzz Bar at the Westminster location.
The photographers of fortune at Kiddie Kandids Portrait Studio are seasoned kid-wranglers, and will prove their prowess at capturing high-spirited younglings in their oft-rumored but rarely seen "still" state—capturing smiles at their finest. To avoid the stiff, artificial poses that so often result from preserving offspring in carbonite, Kiddie Kandids Portrait Studio's shutterbugs get the wee ones relaxed and comfortable so that the special spark of their personality shines through naturally. After the session, (session fee normally $14.99), the best poses will be reassembled into striking 10"x13" and 16"x20" wall portraits ($19.99 and $59.99, respectively) complete with your choice of portrait enhancements ($9.99 each) such as black and white, sepia tone, or Robocop-vision.