Since 1981, families have flocked to the attractions at Jus-Fun Amusements. They zip around the 1/5-mile go-kart track, drifting around its three hairpin turns, then douse each other with water balloons in the Water Wars arena, where arguments ensue over which bathroom the loser has to clean. A more leisurely pastime can be found on the grassy expanses of the mini-golf, where the obstacles are changed once a month to challenge repeat visitors.
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.
Odyssey Fun World's attractions aren't confined to its 45,000 square feet of indoor games and rides?they also sprawl across 11 acres in the fresh air. Inside, a ferris wheel, bumper cars, and a roller coaster host both kids and adults, and more than 250 arcade games and a laser-tag arena foster friendly competition. The indoor Gamers Lounge allows youngsters to practice their PS4 and XBox One skills, while kids up to 10 years old fling themselves into ball pits, slip down slides, or dispute the physics behind make-believe-ore extraction in tunnels at the four-story Exploration Adventure play structure.
The Tinley Park location also boasts an Odyssey Fun Farm from September 27 through November 1. The farm, which is located across the street from the main park, includes a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and a 5-acre courtyard filled with activities such as pig races and a petting zoo.
Outside, at the Naperville location, the staff keeps the Kidz Adventure Park's inflatable bounce houses and slides properly puffed. At the Tinley Park location, they pretend to manicure the faux turfs of two 18-hole mini-golf courses, including one that's wheelchair accessible. Their bumper boats encourage friendly jostling, but the speedboats?limited to drivers aged 16 and older with a driver's license?are all about crossing the finish line first. As trips down the zipline peak adrenaline and appetites, Chipper's Cafe counters hunger with pizza, wings, and burgers.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.99 value).