A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village is a hands-on children's museum spread across three historical houses that reside in Riverfront Park. It is named after A.C. Gilbert, a Salem native, toy magnate, and inventor of the Erector Set. True to a life spent creating educational and scientific toys, his namesake museum provides a place for kids to interact with exhibits that encourage play and provoke thought. From a giant model of an animal cell to a faux paleontological dig full of ancient bones to musical instruments like a South American rainwheel, the museum's stations encompass a number of scientific and cultural disciplines—though little ones might only interpret each activity as fun. Furthermore, youth can heal stuffed animals in the Village Vet Room or scale a 52-foot edifice that is one of the world's largest Erector Set towers, boasting three slides, and a maze.
Blanketed in wall-to-wall trampolines, Sky High Sports delights barefoot fun seekers with 45,000 square feet of springy terrain. Guests can hone front flips, backflips, and belly flops during intense free-bounce sessions. Each trampoline comes equipped with a specially designed spring-loaded frame and 2-inch-thick safety pads that grant patrons a landing cushier than a corner office at a marshmallow factory. Pintsize aerialist posses can safely practice their synchronized salchows on 360 degrees of trampoline walls while court supervisors watch from the sidelines and award hard-earned praise with oversize scorecards. Sky High also offers AIRobics fitness classes and monthly dodge-ball tournaments to help jumpers explore the outermost stratospheres of trampoline possibilities.
Inside both of JJ Jump's two locations lies 7,000 to 12,000 square feet of inflatable challenges and bounce-based entertainment for children. The jousting arena settles sibling rivalries in a civilized and laugh-filled fashion, and giant slides send little ones safely toward the ground. But there's more to JJ Jump than jumping: each facility also boasts a creative play zone that is ripe with construction toys and a stage where children can let their imaginations run wild.
From time to time, the Clackamas facility morphs into JJ Extreme, where a kid wearing a harness can be suspended from the ceiling by a rope to swing back and forth under neon lights. Harnesses also come in handy for a slightly more competitive activity, during which youngsters zip past one another, running toward a basketball hoop and hoping to make a shot before a bungee cord pulls them each backward across a soft, inflatable mat.
While many go-karts look like miniature versions of Formula racecars, the similarities usually stop there. This isn’t the case at Malibu Raceway. Atop a fully independent wishbone-suspension design, Malibu’s Indy-style Virage rumbles with an 18-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine inspired by its professional, full-sized brethren. Youngsters that didn’t get Playskool’s My First I.D. Forger for Christmas can whiz around the half-mile outdoor track in a 9-horsepower Sprint kart, which keeps little riders safely strapped in with a four-point, race-style harness. Blinking battalions of arcade machines stand guard over a game room underscored by the din of clacking pool balls, and a snack bar sates cravings with corn dogs, cotton candy, and popcorn.
Movable walls, luminous rocks, mirrors, ramps, and unexpected dead ends. These are just a few of the obstacles players face at Ultrazone Laser Tag, a two-level, 5,000-square-foot arena that, much like a spring-break DJ’s apartment, is always flooded with black light and fog. Before separating up to 36 players into three teams and setting them loose in the arena, a game master delivers rules and moves teammates to the vesting room, where they grab lasers and flashing vests. As the beat of pulsing music hammers the arena, players stream into the field, launching beams at opponents and attempting to seize their strongholds. When players are hit they aren't eliminated from the action; a computer keeps a running tally of points throughout the mission and awards champion status to the team with the highest count after the game. The facility also includes an arcade packed with video games as well as air-hockey tables, pinball, and a snack area.