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.
When award-winning percussionist Paul Peterson isn't showcasing his rhythmic skills live, he trains budding beat keepers at Backbeat Percussion Studios. During private lessons, he focuses not only on more common instruments, such as drum sets and snare drums, but on what he calls total percussion. This encompasses most of an orchestra's percussion section, from the rumbling timpani to the soft patter of two pillows banging against one another. Such well roundness lends Paul's students an advantage as they audition for ensembles such as drum lines or all-state orchestras. Equally useful are Paul's group lessons, where activities like drum circles help pupils adjust to playing with other musicians.
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.
A purely recreational facility, Frog Holler Paintball accommodates players age 10 and older across 25 acres of outdoor playing fields. The battle zone spans grounds of tall grasses and scrubby trees interspersed with sheltered hiding spots behind particleboard structures, tractor tires, and overgrown marshmallow bushes. Frog Holler Paintball supplies equipment, paint, and CO2 refills, and opens its fields to walk-on players during the weekend and groups of 15 or more on weekdays.