Concealed by glowing dividers, combatants creep along the AstroTurf, hunting for a clear shot at an opponent's battle suit. Inside the 6,900-square-foot arena?one of the largest in Syracuse?lasers, black lights, and shadowy corners call to mind a real-life video game or a haunted discotheque. Skirmishes typically run for 15 minutes, pitting the red team and the green team against each other in a tactical contest. During cease-fires, laser combatants can fire quarters into an assortment of arcade games.
Big Don is boredom's worst enemy. Located on a large chunk of land in Cicero, Big Don's Wild River Mini Golf wipes out monotony with nine different activities, including miniature golf on an 18-hole course that weaves through a wilderness setting. Groups can trade in their golf clubs for laser tag guns and charge into battle in a 40,000-square-foot arena, or attempt to navigate through the 5,000-square-foot Amaze'n Maze without help from GPS systems or cars that can smell their way home. Even treasure hunters can get their fix while panning for gems in the facility's mining sluice or digging through sand for keepsakes such as fossils, seashells, and exotic coins.
At Clubhouse Fun Center, everything seems to be in motion. Go-karts zip and roar around an outdoor speedway, arcade games spit out streams of tickets, and dimpled balls roll over the greens of two 18-hole mini-golf courses. Visitors join in the commotion by hopping into single, double, or rookie go-karts to race each other or attempt to catch up with their own shadows on a track featuring a double-fly-over bridge. Nearby, the mini-golf courses lure putters with a sparkling cerulean waterfall, a giraffe stretching its neck high into the air, and the pink and purple towers of a lilliputian castle. Before hitting the arcade, guests can refuel with snacks or lunch at the Treehouse Cafe or the Sugar Shack, where they can plan out future birthday parties to take place in treasure-cove- or treehouse-themed rooms.
Balls hurtle down slick lanes toward clusters of pins at the family-owned Spencerport Bowl. Leagues duke it out at least once daily, and Friday and Saturday nights host the Famous Rockin' Bowl from 9 p.m. to midnight, when disco lights illumine an alley awash in fog. Revelry spills over to CJ's Pub & Grill, where frequent karaoke sessions supply a festive backbeat for burger-and-pizza feasts. Those who still have an appetite for entertainment after bowling can refuel at the on-site arcade.
The locomotives were just becoming commonplace in the early 19th century, when the New York Central and Hudson River railroads were completed. A member of the legendary Vanderbilt family, Dr. William Webb capitalized on unfolding innovations by privately financing a railroad to his hunting preserve in the Adirondack Mountains. The route wound through treacherous terrain via 17 bridges and numerous service buildings, some of which still are still used to trick time-travelers into thinking they're finally home. Despite these complications, the tracks materialized within just 18 months and were soon whisking the Vanderbilts and other wealthy families to their opulent wilderness estates.
After several decades in disrepair, the tracks were rehabilitated by the railroad enthusiasts of Adirondack Scenic Railroad, who resurrected an initial four-mile stretch in 1992. Since having the railroad officially declared a Historic Place, they continue to unveil new sections, eventually securing routes from Utica to Carter Station, and between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Today, retro locomotives, some built as early as the 1940s, chug through the rippling rivers and wildlife-rich forests of 600-million-acre Adirondack Park, letting passengers drink in the view. Though the railcars boast vintage touches, such as mahogany paneling haunted by the ghosts of Franklin Pierce, they are equipped with modern touches including air conditioning and fully loaded kitchens.
Many Adirondack Scenic Railroad rides provide other entertainments to supplement scenery. In the Doo Wop Train, waitresses from ?50s-themed The Soda Fountain in Remsen pump up patrons for a mid-century feast at the eatery while en route to Remsen Station. Other themed excursions ooze with intrigue, including murder mysteries and train robberies, while some more laid-back jaunts simply convey riders to historically-rich towns such as Old Forge.
The ECHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, the Elmira Jackals skated onto the scene in 2000 as a member of the United Hockey League. After a successful seven-year run in the UHL—including a playoff appearance in their very first season—the Jackals moved to the ECHL in 2007–2008, where they've remained since. Although the Jackals are still in hot pursuit of their first Kelly Cup, the team has earned a playoff berth in every season, highlighted by an Eastern Conference regular-season title in 2011–12. Off the ice, the Jackals remain active in the community with efforts led by mascot Blade, who's often spotted mingling with fans at parties, retail stores, and while getting his eyebrows waxed at local spas.