What do you get when you take the newest gaming consoles, 55-inch televisions, classic games, and load them all up inside a giant truck? That's what Jason and Wendy Brines decided to find out when they founded Mobile GameDen in 2011. Unlike traditional arcades, Mobile GameDen brings the excitement straight to customers' doorsteps. Their gaming truck can fit up to 24 players inside, but the fun doesn't stop there. They can also bring games of laser tag and archery tag (a combination of paintball and archery) to inspire even more competition. They even offer rides in a 10-foot human hamster ball that sends guests spinning.
Now Mobile GameDen has expanded its gaming reach by organizing events that extend beyond the virtual fun zone. In 2013, its inaugural Pumpkin Palooza festival in Sedgwick County Park includes costume contests, pumpkin chunkin and painting, candy stations, and a live DJ.
At The Strike Zone, batters of any age can practice their baseball or softball swings against the pitches of fast- and slow-speed machines. Machines' pitching height can also be adjusted to accommodate guests' varying heights or a child's minute-to-minute growth spurts. When the batting cages aren't being used, kids can practice their form with the help of a T-ball stand. Shaved ice in 60 flavors keeps batters cool and refreshed throughout the day.
There are dragons in central Kansas. Granted, they're pet bearded dragons, not the fire-breathers from myths, but that doesn't stop people from clamoring for them. The dragons—lovingly called "beardies"—will join other be-scaled brethren at the Central Kansas Reptile Expo.
This two-day convention will showcase snakes, lizards, and insects at the Best Western in Wichita. Guests can pet a live gecko or watch a python curl up in a massive spiral like the most adept yogi. The expo will also feature vendor booths with reptile supplies from business such as K-State Insect Zoo, Netta's Scaly Babies, and Night Glow Reptiles, as well as accessories for human companions that include jewelry and snakeskin bags. Proceeds from an onsite auction will benefit the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, which protects and raises awareness for herpetofauna.
In 1989, The Strike Zone owner Darrin Paxton won the College World Series with Wichita State University, and afterward, went on to play major-league ball for the Expos and Mets organizations. According to the Derby Informer, he imparts the knowledge garnered during his career to players of all ages and levels at his 5,000-square-foot facility, helping them to improve their mental and physical game.
Atop astroturf fields, 5-to-1 indoor batting cages and a video screen allow hitters to analyze their swing, and private lessons enhance hitting and pitching skills. The space also hosts birthday parties for up to 30 guests, who can play dodgeball and kickball, watch movies, and quietly contemplate Mark McGwire.
Neon beer signs cast blue, green, and red light across the black ceiling, and tables populate with okra, mushrooms, and cauliflower starters—all deep fried to a golden crunch. An enormous projection TV broadcasts the latest game amid the pulse of a jukebox, and several flat screens promote revelry at the weathered wooden bar.
For more than 20 years, this casual sports bar has unleashed its signature third-pound burgers on Derby, topping them with everything from whole grilled-cheese sandwiches to chili and nacho cheese. After two-handing hot dogs or brisket sandwiches, guests can test their motor skills with the bar's free Xbox 360 with Kinect game base, or improve their coolness quotient by ordering the trendiest new summer drink: water on the rocks.
At Derby Family Entertainment Center, bowlers coast toward high scores atop 24 lanes outfitted with automatic scoring and bumpers for younger guests. On the weekends, cosmic bowling casts a celestial glow across frames. And during karaoke Fridays, competitors exchange balls for a microphone to serenade nearby pins until they fall over or at least pick up the bar tab. Away from the synthetic playing field, a 1,100-square-foot arcade jingles and jangles with games for all ages, and cheers leak out from inside Kegler's Sports Bar and Grill, which often broadcasts WSU or Kansas City Chiefs games on a massive, 60-inch screen.