Housing whiz-bang activities sprung to life from the mind of owner and game designer J. Richard Oltmann, Enchanted Castle & Haunted Trails coax thrills from the young and young at heart. As bumper cars clunk together and an arcade rings with the peal of 250 games, Enchanted Castle’s 60,000 square-foot space fills with scenes fit for dream-like days of timeless tomfoolery. A laser tag arena hosts light-based combat, a miniature golf course tests putting mettle, and an indoor go-kart track lets driver reenact the time that the Indianapolis 500 was hosted inside a local gymnasium. Platefuls of wings, pizzas, and sandwiches dot tabletops in the dining area, where visitors can feast in front of karaoke, big screen TVs, and an animatronics stage show featuring in-house band the Jammin’ Jesters. Amusing on a larger, spookier scale, Haunted Trails ushers guests into a 14-acre entertainment complex with two 18-hole miniature golf courses, three outdoor go-kart tracks, batting cages, laser tag, and ghoulishly themed rides for youngsters, including the Monster Hop or Boneshaker. Five acres of picnic grove invite up to 2,000 guests to celebrate events, munch on the restaurant's desserts, or the participate in the world’s third-largest game of duck-duck-goose.
At any moment, visitors to Wilderness Falls might run into the resident moose. He isn’t grazing: Maddux the Moose, the family fun center’s fuzzy mascot, spends his time playing its two 18-hole, outdoor mini-golf courses and accepting high-fives and hugs from enthusiastic guests. Maddux isn’t the only fixture that may make guests feel as though they’ve wandered into the woods¬; the two mini-golf courses are pretty rugged themselves. The Bear Course, which hosts the annual Chicago Mini-Golf Championship, leads putters past a 35-foot waterfall, into a dark cave, and across creaking wooden walkways, just like the race all of Harrison Ford’s clones run to determine which one will get to play Indiana Jones. Alternatively, the Eagle Course leads players around winding rivers and on a climb to the top of a 40-foot mountain of rock.
Of course, it’s not all roughing it. In the middle of the greens sits the tented arena that holds Wilderness Falls’ batting cages, including six baseball cages and three softball cages. An arcade lights up the indoor space with the glowing screens of video games, and party rooms hold birthday and team celebrations.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award for best haunted house two years in a row from readers of Chicago Haunted House, Disturbia Torment of Fears sets spines to tingle with an arsenal of creepy attractions. Guests equipped with a V.I.P. speed pass skip to the front of the waiting line, receiving rapid entry and skipping otherwise-mandatory pat-downs from the house’s werewolf security guards. Upon entry, complete darkness envelops visitors as terrifying characters and nightmarish scenarios coerce screams out of hiding. Free parking keeps cars safe from the frights, and an indoor waiting area shields visitors from wind, weather, and jack-o’-lanterns that have developed self-awareness.
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