More than 50 years ago, Mr. John E. Connelly set his sights on cleaning up Pittsburgh's polluted three rivers and returning them to their former glory as the Steel City's heart and soul. As then-treasurer of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, John was in a prime position to complete his ambition. With the belief that he could get the public engaged and committed to a cleanup, he decided to give the local people access to the rivers via boat tours, knowing the city's characteristic architecture as viewed from the rivers would engender a genuine appreciation for the region's waterways and environment.
After getting his nephew, Captain Jack Goessling, on board, John purchased a 100-passenger fishing boat they would christen the Gateway Clipper, which would later launch from Monongahela Wharf for the first of its many pleasure cruises. Today, with Gateway Clipper Fleet, his dream of engaging locals and visitors in the city's history and waterways thrives with a fleet that has grown to five boats capable of accommodating 2,500 guests. Through the years, the fleet has ferried more than 25 million passengers, treating them to dinner cruises, sightseeing tours, and entertainment jaunts along the clean, blue waters of Pittsburgh's three rivers.
Adrenaline flows freely inside Laser Storm Pittsburgh's laser-tag battleground as teams of players wage infrared war over objectives and bases. In addition to hosting laser battles, Laser Storm offers an arcade filled with skee-ball, three big-screen arcade games, and other ticket-spewing machines. Any tickets won in the arcade can be used to purchase prizes from a well-stocked booth or attached to a fishing line to lure laser-tag enemies out of their hiding spots.
At Fun Fest Entertainment Center, friends and families come together for everything from bowling and birthday parties to games of pool or karaoke crooning over a few drinks. Five days a week, a cosmic bowling experience enhanced by neon lights, thumping music, and fog machines transports guests into a parallel universe where people must knock down pins before they sprout legs and start to dance. Adjacent to the bowling lanes, the Center’s arcade lures thrill seekers with novel amusements including air hockey, a giant Connect Four game, and a karaoke machine that can record performances on DVD. Incandescent murals of planetary systems and supernovas surround guests as they take aim at intergalactic enemies in the darkened corridors of the Cyber Quest Laser Tag arena. In between gaming, players can refuel on draft and bottled beer and food such as pizza, burgers, and chicken wings.
Wildwood Highlands serves an all-ages buffet of adrenaline-filled rides and fun-soaked activities that visitors can access with fistfuls of tickets. For five-minute intervals, go-karts whip through a winding, 1,000-foot course that challenges mini-motorists' reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and familial bonds with each cutoff to the inner rail. Visitors can captain bumper boats through the 5,000-square-foot Wildwood waters, thumping vessels as they pass fountains and circumvent the island. Woody's Den enchants small children with calliope music and magical animals who steer tots toward the spinning slime-bucket ride and old-fashioned train. Two 18-hole miniature-golf courses school putters in the principles of geometry and psyching out competitors with inopportune coughs and cackles.
Wildwood's arcade entices button smashers with more than 70 games that they can play to win tickets, which can be redeemed for prizes such as stuffed animals and action figures. While bouncing from attraction to attraction, thrill seekers can recharge their energy with pizzas, wraps, pretzels, and cotton candy at the snack bar.
Inflated structures and games fill the climate-controlled environs of the numerous BounceU locations that speckle the nation. At each site, staff members closely monitor all activities as little ones traverse obstacle courses and slides. The crew also invites parents to join in on the fun, letting them bounce alongside their kids or make sweeping edicts from atop a bouncy-castle throne. In addition to open sessions, the indoor-play haven sets the stage for the Preschool Playdate program, where instructors lead games and activities. Special events include family-bounce night, which lets parents join in the bouncing or relax in the party room and do grownup things, such as eat marshmallows with a knife and fork.
In theory, a family could visit Fun Fore All once a week for two months and always find something new to do. During one visit, they might putt their way past waterfalls on two 18-hole mini golf courses; during the next, they might race around the go-kart track or use a round of bumper boats to decide who has to pay that month's yacht insurance.
But if those seasonal and year-round attractions aren't enough, Fun Fore All has even more to offer in the form of batting cages, an arcade, and Ballocity—a three-story play area outfitted with 30-plus interactive features, including a four-story slide. For budding rock climbers or anyone looking for a challenge, there's 26-feet of rock to climb, and the Kiddie Rides include Mini Tea Cups, a Happy Swing and the Kiddie Coaster. Guests can stay properly fueled for all this action, too, thanks to a snack bar stocked with sandwiches, pizza, wings, and wraps.