Best Skee-Ball 2022 | The Little Woody | Fun & Games | Phoenix
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Luigi Richie

The two Baytek Beer Ball games at The Little Woody aren't as flashy or high-tech as the Skee-Ball machines found at garish family fun centers in the Valley, but that's sort of the point. The lo-fi game room at the Arcadia bar is a hipper spot for local Skee musketeers to roll for glory. Its old-school vibe fits the retro roots of Skee-Ball (which dates back to the early 1900s), the beer and libations menu is unrivaled, and there aren't any rugrats around to distract you. Plus, games are free every Monday night and local social sports group PHX Fray organizes Skee-Ball leagues throughout the year. And when you tire of ruling the ramp, there are darts, shuffleboard, a pool table, and board games to choose from. So if your aim is true, start limbering up your wrist and roll down to The Little Woody.

Carousels can be found spinning up quaint, innocent fun for the young, and the young at heart, at amusement parks and family-friendly attractions across the Valley. If you're looking for the best merry-go-round around, though, head for Mesa's Superstition Springs Center, where the double-decker Fun Zone Carousel is located next to the food court. Unlike other local carousels, it offers two levels of saddled beasts to ride, as well as twice the fun. Its menagerie of mounts includes such exotic and fantastical choices as a gorilla, dinosaurs, and dragons. There's also a proud bald eagle with its wings outstretched, talons extended, and perfectly posed if you want to pretend you're Gandalf rescuing Frodo and Sam from Mount Doom or stage some sort of humorously over-the-top patriotic selfie for social media. It's $4 per ride or four rides for $15, so pay up, hop up, and get ready to ride. Adventure and fun await.

It isn't difficult to pick out the La Grande Wheel XL amid the glowing, rainbow-colored spectacle of the Arizona State Fair's midway when the event occurs every fall. Living up to its moniker, the 164-foot-tall attraction is visible from miles away, towering over every other ride, the nearby Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and everything else in the immediate vicinity of the fairgrounds. As such, riders in each of its 36 air-conditioned gondolas get panoramic views of downtown Phoenix, the surrounding sprawl, and the various mountains dotting the horizon. La Grande Wheel XL is touted by its owners, local carnival ride operator Ray Cammack Shows, as the largest traveling observation wheel in the Western Hemisphere, while fair organizers tell Phoenix New Times it's one of the most popular rides at the event. It's also one the priciest, typically costing 20 tickets or more per person, but it's worth the expense for the chance to ride the biggest and best Ferris wheel in town.

When it comes to pulse-pounding attractions, family fun centers ain't got nothing on Castles N' Coasters. The long-running north Phoenix amusement park contains the Valley's biggest and most adrenaline-inducing thrill rides to get your heart racing. Case in point: the Skydiver, an enormous drop tower that plunges you 120 feet straight down while your stomach lodges in your throat. (The meek might want to steer clear.) Nearby, the Sea Dragon, a Viking-themed swinging boat, hurls its riders to and fro, and the Splashdown log flume attraction is guaranteed to drench you. The crown jewel of the collection is Desert Storm, the tallest and fastest permanent roller coaster in Arizona, which uses two loops, 360-degree turns, and a massive 80-foot vertical drop to extract as many screams as possible from its passengers. If you'd prefer rides that won't require a double dose of anxiety meds, the park also offers the smaller Patriot coaster, go-karts, a fun house, and bumper boats. Who needs a trip to a pricey SoCal theme park when you can stay home and get your fill of thrills at Castles N' Coasters?

Under normal circumstances, willfully careening and crashing into other vehicles is a major no-no, likely earning you a swift revocation of your driving privileges and a spot on the insurance industry's blacklist. But if you're behind the controls of one of the bumper cars at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, the only thing you're getting is a good time. Patrons can hop aboard any of the circular-shaped rides, each ringed with doughnut-like neoprene bumpers, and engage in some chaotic, harmless fun. LED lights glow and flash as a soundtrack of rock and electronic dance music blares while the bumper cars bounce into each other in a 20-by-30-foot area that resembles a pinball game writ large. Best of all, the high-backed seats in each car prevent any whiplash-like injuries from occurring, so you won't have to visit the chiropractor afterward. It's $7 for a five-minute ride and worth every penny.

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