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.
Gusts of steam blasting out of vents, the eerie black eyes of neon-green aliens, and fiery-mouthed craters set the stage at Outer Zone Laser Tag’s 5,000-square-foot arena. Within this extraterrestrial combat zone, players scurry up a 175-foot ramp system and duck behind columns to avoid enemy fire or any existential crises that crop up when aiming the phaser at a best friend. Flickering of strobe lights and swirls of fog hamper vision as players crawl through tunnels and aim their lasers at opponents’ LED-lit vests, hoping for direct hits and big points. Before each session, groups learn the game rules in a briefing room and gear up with the help of a zone commander in the vesting room. Outer Zone Laser Tag also welcomes birthday parties, inviting celebrants to shimmy on a dance floor after taking down enemies in the arena.
Putt-putting through a pirate ship might normally result in the putter walking the plank. Not so at FunPlex Fun Park, where on the 18-hole mini-golf course, players navigate ocean-themed greens populated by alligators, a lighthouse, and one grounded speedboat. Thirteen attractions, including a bounce house and bumper boats, promise diversion for kids of almost any age. Go-karts spin around an eighth-mile track at up to 20 miles per hour, and kids aged 3?10 zip around at 6 miles per hour on the mini go-kart track. In Captain Hook's House of Fun, kids clamber inside the tunnels of a multilevel play structure, descending tube slides and diving into a pit filled with plastic balls, more fun than the ones at school that are filled with homework.
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 2013 Schoharie County Sunshine Fair is a weeklong celebration of farm life and summertime. This year's entertainment lineup includes everything from tractor pulls and monster trucks in the grandstand to live music and dancing every night in the party tent. By day, kids and adults can traverse the grounds to enjoy Rosaire's pig races, a petting zoo, juggling demonstrations, and the works of Brian Ruth, a chainsaw sculptor. The fair's parade, which takes place on Wednesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m., will be led by the Beekman Boys, Schoharie County natives and winners of the The Amazing Race.