Costumed actors hide inside Heaps Haunted Corn Maze, ready to scare all those who dare enter. Alternatively, the flashlight maze is completely unhaunted and challenges visitors instead with a series of dead ends, switchbacks, and branching paths that they must navigate armed only with a flashlight. After walking through the maze of their choice, guests can unwind during a half-hour moonlight tractor ride, staying in the mood by singing the Scooby-Doo theme song under their breath.
Family Fun Zone packs a spectrum of entertainment catering to ages 14 and under into one hub complete with roller-skating rink, laser-tag arena, and an arcade. Multicolored lights sweep over the roller rink where birthday-party guests practice figure 8s or 44s, fueled by pizza and soda. Visitors transition from gliding to ducking beneath laser rays, and watchful parents can enjoy free WiFi from the comfort of the snack bar. Guardians also dole out tokens for the arcade, where glowing machines spit out tickets to a soundtrack of buzzing TVs and family-friendly music.
Enchanted Castle coaxes thrills from the young and young at heart. As pins are knocked over throughout the mini-bowling lanes 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, bumper cars clunk together around a giant track, and an indoor go-kart course lets driver reenact the time that the Indianapolis 500 was hosted inside a local gymnasium. In addition to rides and games, kids can bounce around in the Inflatable Kingdom, visit the new Softplay area, or search for treasures in the prize redemption center. 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.
How to Survive a Day at the Amusement Park Without Having a Meltdown
"Write your parking spot on your kid's forehead," and other (actual) amusement park tips from those with the most experience: theme park workers.
It's the pull of the plunger, the release of the ball, and the battering of the bumpers. It's the clacks of the flippers, clapping to keep that silver streak careening across the board as the scoreboard lights up like Paris at night. That's the magic of pinball, a visceral, immersive, and inherently tactile experience that all of the virtual reality in the world couldn't duplicate.
The mystical silver ball reigns supreme at Chicago Street Pinball Arcade, an electric shine to the godfather of video games. Founded by hobbyists and collectors compelled to share their joy with the public, the downtown Joliet funhouse has blossomed into a fairway for die-hard enthusiasts and first-time tilters alike. An array of machines from different eras reside within. Retro electro-mechanical games from the '60s and '70s mix with digital and solid-state machines from the early '80s, modern electronic games from the '90s, to current incarnations. A few classic video games and a foosball table also enhance the old-fashioned arcade vibe. All of the machines are lovingly maintained by the dedicated staff, who view their work as a birthright; 90% of the world's pinball machines were designed in Chicago by the wizards at companies such as Gottlieb, Stern, and Williams.
A hailstorm of paint projectiles rains down upon CPX Sports' more than one dozen fields, each of which poses different challenges and requires specialized tactics. The crown jewel of the park is the Town of Bedlam, a massive maze of small-town 1950s buildings that jut out between streets dotted by paint-splattered cars and streetlights. There, snipers poke their heads out of the central city hall's tower as the opposing team hides out or checks for abandoned shampoo samples inside the post office. The Jungle of Doom drops teams into a heavily wooded field to vie for control of a central temple, and chromatic combatants weave between desiccated cars in the Wastelands, attempting to collect the most gas cans. A full pro shop outfits players with markers, protective gear, and Sesame Street coloring books for target practice.
In the newly-built indoor paintball facility, meanwhile, combatants can compete on an over 35,000 square-foot field no matter how bad the weather outside is. The location also features private rooms for birthday parties, or corporate outings for effective team-building exercises that don’t involve gluing the marketing staff to people in sales.
By highlighting the goings-on in the community of Joliet, The Joliet Area Historical Museum scans the entirety of American history from the perspective of the town's inhabitants. Housed inside the former Ottawa Street Methodist Church, multimedia exhibits artfully assembled from audio-visual displays, touch screens, and life-size models illustrate the stories plucked from the eventful timelines of the town and its people.
Occupying two full stories, permanent exhibit The Soaring Achievements of John C. Houbolt honors the life and work of former resident Dr. Houbolt, who had a primary role in NASA's race to the moon. The exhibit's life-size Lunar Lander even allows guests to step inside and glimpse the accommodations and controls, revealing a control panel more complicated than a single button labeled "Go to Moon." In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also keeps an active calendar full of special events.