Salt River Shuttle's chauffeurs run a fleet of SUVs, vans, and party buses between the metro Phoenix area and the picturesque shores of Salt River. They safely drop off families of fun-seekers and groups of friends or coworkers at a stretch of placid riverfront flanked by massive red-rock formations and open fields. After disembarking, passengers are free to spend lazy afternoons floating down the gentle current in tubes or the mouths of friendly sea monsters before drivers reappear to transport them home.
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
So goes the nursery rhyme. The creative team behind Jack and Jill's Haunted Hill, however, has added its own petrifying twist to the famous stanza. Though its Jack and Jill made the pentametered trek up the hill for water, the search led to an abandoned mine. Overcome by curiosity, the two entered and never left. The haunt's proprietors invite intrepid guests to venture into that mine to discover the sinister forces that claimed Jack and Jill, and to learn more about how rhyming leads to imminent death. The mine's terrifying secrets frighten visitors until 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on Friday and Saturday, though family-friendly sessions from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. let patrons embark on less spine-tingling tours.
Arizona Hot Air's gravity-defiant captains usher passengers across awe-inducing desert landscapes inside a multicolored balloon. An air balloon pilot slings trivia factoids from ballooning history as the ground crew prepares the afternoon's air-filled transport. Then passengers—equipped with a first-flight certificate and a precautionary jetpack—ascend into the skies for a gentle flight over North Phoenix's picturesque desert, clinking glasses with the pilot during a complimentary toast. The balloon's intimate cabin offers passengers unhindered views of the seemingly endless terrain during a personal ride, devoid of large groups of spectators or throngs of mail haulers training their carrier-pigeon flocks.
The trainers at Ultimate Body Boot Camp forage through the workout wilderness to curate a fitness omnibus. They pull from multiple exercise styles—including Pilates, plyometrics, kickboxing, yoga, and core work—to build workouts that combine the benefits of cardio and resistance training. This earned the program a top spot on Arizona Foothills magazine's Best of Our Valley list for 2012.
To keep clients' muscles from hitting the wall, getting bored, or taking off in the dead of night to pursue a career as an anatomy textbook model, coaches change the routine each class and give campers personalized tips to fuel individual journeys. Body-composition tests and nutritional plans augment the sessions, inspiring long-lasting habits for healthy physiques.
The legend feeds on superstition. Many buildings avoid numbering a 13th floor for fear of welcoming disaster or deterring those susceptible to paranoia. Yet even when the number is lacking the floor still exists, so many contractors have taken to hiding it underground. There, the dead walk alongside those seeking asylum from society as well as rats, snakes, and spiders.
When the brave enter the 13th Floor Haunted House, the elevator that meets them at the front of the line heads down instead of up, revealing a subterranean network of expertly orchestrated haunts and special effects. Hollywood-quality makeup and effects transform a 60,000-square-foot labyrinth into a world full of torment. Fear-stricken explorers run through a chainsaw forest and an asylum packed with bloody, screaming patients. From cobwebbed graveyards to a disorienting tilted room and open elevator shafts, the ghoulish settings leave explorers panting and ready to trade in their night light for a spotlight.
After the 13th Floor, groups stumble up into a second grisly site: Zombieland. This post-apocalyptic world presents a city swarming with more than 100 undead that pursue trespassers past dilapidated storefronts and street intersections, craving a meal of human flesh with a light caesar salad. Paired with the haunted underground, this panoramic experience earned the 13th Floor a spot on Hauntworld.com's Top 13 Haunted Houses in America in 2011.
Fire and wind: that’s all it takes to fly. Hot air ballooning’s sheer simplicity sparked pilot Scott Appelman’s interest in the sport 30 years ago. “In a lot of ways, it’s the exact opposite of the way the world is today,” says the Rainbow Ryders, Inc. founder. “And I think that gives it a certain degree of romance.”
Further evidence of ballooning’s inherent romance can be found in the number of proposals and weddings that have taken place aboard Rainbow Ryders’ fleet of 19 balloons, earning the company a spot on Yahoo’s list of top five places in the nation to pop the question. Even if engagement is not on passengers’ agendas, the crew still strives to ensure a memorable expedition. Guests can join the launch crew to help inflate the balloon before takeoff, and upon landing, pilot and passengers clink glasses in a champagne toast to celebrate another successful flight.
Though whimsy and romance may prove the biggest draw, Rainbow Ryders’ untarnished safety record is what ultimately keeps the balloons hovering. Since 1982, experienced pilots have safely floated 160,000 people over the Rio Grande Valley. Pilots not only helm top-tier equipment, but carefully monitor the region’s weather patterns to ensure smooth thermal drafts and minimize hitchhiking requests from migrating geese.