6 Modern Playgrounds to Make Your Inner Child Lose Its Mind
Childhood never really dies -- it just gets repressed. So while we're grinding away in an office from 9 to 5, we may allow ourselves some video games in our spare time, but we have to give up the really fun stuff -- the climbing, the jumping, the pretending to be at war with the Nazis in our backyard.
That is, unless you know where to look. Maybe it's time to reclaim your childhood at ...
The World War II Paintball Re-Enactment (Oklahoma)
When we talked about playing war above, some of you immediately said, "Well, we have paintball!" But it's just not the same when it's a dozen guys running around behind some hay bales. No, we were picturing something more ... large scale.
Fortunately there's Oklahoma D-Day, the massive paintball war in which you can get shot by a goddamned tank.
And this thing is much more durable than a real Sherman.
Oklahoma D-Day is, quite simply, the largest paintball game in the world. It's a recreation of World War II in paintball form, and it draws nearly 4,000 people annually. That's more than the British brought into the Battle of Bunker Hill.
It also contains significantly more giant American flags than Bunker Hill.
By taking the idea of war re-enactment to its absolute legal limits, Oklahoma D-Day faithfully recreates battles and scenarios from the Normandy landings in which participants go head to head against paintball tanks, paintball air raids, and paintball machine guns.
As well as hundreds of paintball bayonets* (*brushes).
The contestants are divided into Axis and Allied teams, assigned to units, and invited to experience the hell of war in a mostly non-lethal environment. Luckily for all involved, the organizers opt not to end the tournament each year by detonating a paintball atom bomb.
The Wanton Destruction Club (New Jersey)
Admit it: How many of you play a game like Grand Theft Auto purely for the chance to just roam around and wreck shit? For most of us, there is a primal satisfaction in destroying things, an impulse that society is really big on suppressing, for some reason. Well, friends, we want to tell you about the Destruction Company of New Jersey, a private club that enabled its members to go medieval on any item they wanted, more or less.
We'd kinda like to sledgehammer that kid on the right. What the hell is with his neckline?
There are a few rules: You can't kill anything (or anyone) or destroy any documents, and you can't use firearms, because that would just be dangerous. Apart from that, pretty much anything goes. Want to destroy a piano with a chainsaw? Take a crowbar to a Chevy? Just tell the Destruction Company what turns you on, and they'd set it up for you. If you're not sure, they even had a menu that included flat screen televisions, couches, guitars, and something that looks like what Victorian-era women kept their undergarments in.
And an antique statue, because you can't fake the thrill of destroying art.
The club had access to an old warehouse and rooftop space where the orgy of destruction took place. They report that their most popular items were technology, like computers, laptops, and iPads, which seems completely reasonable for anyone who's ever wanted to chuck their bricked PC out a four-story window.
"Eat concrete, guitar. That'll teach you to make me play badly."
Perhaps surprisingly for those who assume this madness is fueled by an overabundance of testosterone, the club also claimed that 40 percent of their members are women, including one who signed up so that she could destroy a bunch of her ex-husband's stuff.
Smash all you want, that vase won't turn into genitals.
Apparently, wanton destruction does have a therapeutic benefit, as therapists from Spain have already known for years. "Destructotherapy" is a legitimate form of therapy that lauds the curative power of beating random objects to a violent pulp, which proves that psychology is finally catching up to what we've been telling them for centuries.
The World's Biggest Climbing Wall (Switzerland)
Kids like climbing things. It's another passion that decades of spirit-crushing office work tends to squeeze out of you, but the popularity of climbing walls at gyms attests to the fact that dragging our bodies up a vertical incline is still something we yearn for. Why not take it to the limit and visit Switzerland, where you can tackle this bastard? (Note: Those tiny dots are people.)
The reservoir below holds enough fear urine to keep all of Germany in water sports.
Holy shit! The Diga di Luzzone is the closest you'll ever come to climbing the wall from Game of Thrones. The largest artificial climbing wall in the world is actually built into the side of a dam above a pants-soiling free-fall drop of 540 feet.
Voted Worst Place to Scratch an Itch 2013.
The plastic climbing pegs that scale the dam begin several feet above the ground to discourage random tourists from attempting the ascent, because Switzerland doesn't need that on their conscience. For around the price of a sandwich, experienced climbers are outfitted with climbing gear and a ladder and sent on their way.
And for $500 an hour, you can fire paintballs at these people.
The climb gets more difficult as you slowly ascend into the stratosphere -- beginning at an incline, the wall eventually turns vertical and then bends back a little so that you're on an overhang and feeling like Stallone in Cliffhanger. At this point, you're up so high that you can feel the weight of your own safety rope dragging on you. Really the biggest challenge is not emptying your bowels on the poor guy below you.
The Temple Where You Play With Actual Tigers (Thailand)
Forget regular zoos, where, if you're lucky, you can cuddle a koala or touch a conveniently defanged snake. At Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, aka the Tiger Temple in Thailand, you can cut right to what you've always dreamed of doing and snuggle a full-grown tiger, rocketing you instantly to the status of Beast Master (or at least top-tier Cat Person).
Just don't break out the laser pointer. It'd be the last mistake you ever made.
The temple was commemorated in 1994 as a forest monastery and a sanctuary for a variety of animals, not just tigers. If you're lucky you can also sometimes ride elephants or play with bears, because why limit yourself to one potential near-death experience in a day?
Now, shout "BOO!" and goose his belly.
The tigers are allowed to roam about freely once a day, which is when tourists get a chance to interact with the animals. The monks are currently trying to gather up some more cash to upgrade the facilities and create an atmosphere for the tigers that's as similar as possible to what they would experience in the wild. Biologically, tigers are just really huge kittens, so if you treat them right, you can belly-rub them without too much risk of them removing your face with a single playful swipe of the paw.
Honestly, half a swipe would probably do it.
At the Tiger Temple, you can even hand-wash a tiger cub or have some fun with one with a variety of tiger toys that the temple will provide you. Or just put your baby on it, whatever.
It's probably cool to just leave him there if you need to visit the gift shop or something.
The temple's utmost dedication to the welfare of these animals was rewarded with a Golden Jubilee Buddha Image, a statue in Buddha's image made of 80 kilograms of gold. Incidentally, the statue went missing the same week one of the more senior monks bought a new Audi.
The Inflatable Water Park (Germany)
At some point in adulthood, the beach becomes less about splashing around and laughing your ass off and more about sitting quietly and working on your tan. And a German company called Wibit Sports says fuck that shit:
Or ficken that scheisse, whatever.
Yep, they sell giant floating inflatable play sets that allow you to set up an impromptu water park wherever you damn well please. The structures can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 100 people and inflate fully in a couple of hours, depending on size and level of pimpery. You can order individual pieces and completely customize the layout of the final product.
"Wait, what if we make it look like a dong?"
The company's catalog comes with literally dozens of components for you to build your own version of Wipeout right in your swimming pool, including swings, trampolines, slides, and climbing towers. Or, if you like, a balance beam where you can make your sexy female friends battle for your amusement.
Note the body language on the only man in that picture.
The feature that's sure to cause the most unintentional belly flops, however, is the flipper, which is basically a combination catapult and seesaw. You stand on one end while your fattest friend jumps on the opposite end, flinging you up into the air.
You can even order a lifeguard outpost, which is available in Wibit's product list due to drunk people's propensity to accept dangerous bets.
"Hey, you guys think a Jet Ski could tow this?"
The Real-life Mario Kart Track (Texas)
If Grand Theft Auto taught us the joy of going on a rampage of vehicular destruction, Mario Kart showed us the joy of cruelly sabotaging fellow drivers. It's not the sort of thing you could ever do in real life, of course. Yeah, you can get some go-karts and drive them around until everyone gets bored, but it's not like you can shoot projectiles at each other and make your best friend fly into a rage by nailing him with a blue shell right at the finish line.
Or can you?
No way this goes more than 10 minutes without a fatal stabbing.
A bunch of engineers at Austin's Park in Texas wanted to figure out if they could put their nerd knowledge to good use and jury-rig an ordinary go-kart game to follow the rules of Mario Kart, complete with power-ups. That meant they had to alter the kart mechanics so that, for example, the brakes would fail if someone lobbed a turtle shell at your face. And you know what? They pulled it off.
If this isn't the new national sport inside a decade, we don't know America.
By installing RFID (radio frequency identification) chips into a bunch of plush power-ups and some ordinary go-karts, they managed to program the karts to respond to making contact with certain items. So, just like the game, you collect a power-up from a floating box ...
... and drop a banana peel to watch your opponent's brakes fail ...
The digital version of those yellow bastards ruined more fraternal relationships than the American Civil War.
... fire a turtle shell out of a built-in cannon to lock the steering and brakes of an opponent ...
Or their head. Probably their head.
... or pick up a golden star to give your kart a boost of speed:
"Ow! Was that ... a syringe full of meth?"
Unfortunately, this was a one-time project, and they haven't put their gadgetry into use in the form of a real-life Mario Kart park we can all enjoy (because they have something against becoming instant billionaires, we guess?). Still, we're holding out hope.
Related Reading: Ready to drive your inner child insane? Click here! The obliteration room is heaven for any kid who loved to draw on the walls. One awesome thing about our future full of old people is playgrounds for the geriatric. If you're ready to behold the most terrifying playground in history, click this link.