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Adult bounce houses, adult drinks: Inside new Las Vegas attraction

Adult bounce houses, adult drinks: Inside new Las Vegas attraction Play Playground is a lot to take in, designed to be around a 90-minute experience to partake in everything and hit pause on being a grown-up — save for knocking back a cocktail, perhaps. Updated January 26, 2024 – 11:13 am The big, curvy red tube beckons, its loops suggestive of a walk-in crazy straw. “You guys have got to take a trip down the slide,” our tour guide enjoins. “It’s a rite of passage.” “We’re encouraging people to slide in,” she elaborates. “We want to immediately immerse you in this world of play.” Down the shoot you go, adrenaline levels intended to follow the opposite trajectory: up, up, up. In a few seconds, you’re shot out into two places simultaneously. The first: a brightly hued, 15,000-square-foot wonderland of inflatable mazes, a target-practice cactus and large, swinging poker chips meant to be dodged — should you possess the dexterity to do so. The second (for grown-ups): a physical manifestation of the feeling of being a kid at play. The difference between those childhood days and now? There’s beer here. Enter Play Playground, a new “immersive gamified bar” at the Luxor, designed for adults, kids and adults who want to act like kids again. “The emotion of childhood, we want to bring that back to adults,” explains Jennifer Worthingon, co-founder of Play Playground and our aforementioned tour guide. “I think that is sort of what we’re striving for.” Adult bounce houses, adult beverages “Have you been in a bounce house since you were a kid?” Worthington asks, posing a question at the heart of the experience on hand. “Let me just tell you, it is damn fun as an adult.” You don’t have to take her word for it: said attraction is but one of 20 here. In an era dominated by digital entertainment, where much of the action takes place on screens, activating the mind’s eye more than motor skills, the idea powering Play Playground is to revert to the tactile, the tangible, the hands-on. “There’s no VR, there’s no arcade games,” Worthington notes. “We wanted to recreate that emotion from childhood of touching and feeling and kicking, like when we were kids, playing board games.” This means, among many other things, donning a Velcro bodysuit, lunging on to a trampoline, and hurling yourself at a Velcro bullseye at the Bullseye Bounce; racing to put heart- and ice cream-shaped puzzle pieces into the Perfect Popper before time expires and the puzzle goes ka-blam! and explodes; and attempting to extract bones from Play Playground’s mascot, Play Pal, in a life-size twist on the buzzing board game “Operation.” The attractions here are outsize and intuitive. You look at them and you pretty much you know what to do immediately, no instructions necessary. This is by design. “We wanted to have our games not require a lot of explanation,” Worthington says. “They’re games that are slightly reminiscent of other games, games you might have played in your childhood, and we’ve just reimagined them. We want people to be able to run from game-to-game-to game.” They also want the games to foster a sense of communal competition: nearly everything here is multiplayer, with some accommodating up to eight participants. During the multiplayer games, everyone accumulates the same points, with scores posted on a large leader board, in order to encourage a team mentality. “When you and I start playing a game together, and I’m yelling at you, and you’re yelling at me, and we’re celebrating, there is something extraordinarily bonding about that,” Worthington notes. Play Playground’s opening at 5 p.m. Friday marks the culmination of a four-and-a-half year journey, as the project began prior to the pandemic, which subsequently postponed its construction. Strolling through the expansive, two-floor property feels kind of like getting swallowed whole by a rainbow, everything awash in color, from its luminous bar to the glowing corridor that is Ringer Run, a game where you have to guide a ring along a twisting track without touching said track (it’s harder than it sounds). It’s a lot to take in, designed to be around a 90-minute experience to partake in everything and hit pause on being a grown-up — save for knocking back a cocktail, perhaps. “If we can give you an hour of playtime to forget about your problems,” Worthington says, “and just have the same joy that you had when you ran on to the playground as a child, where you ran from the swings to the slide to the jungle gym, and you didn’t think about anything, you were just having fun, that’s really what we’re about.” Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram

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