If money is tight, vacation locally at a nearby mall or indoor themepark like New Roc City, where New York families go to play.
Just as the economy tanked in 2008 and 2009, and families’ savings shriveled up, the idea of a staycation rose to prominence. A cheap alternative to a vacation, a staycation allows families to check out local attractions without having to spend money on flights and lodging. Families have been taking a record number of staycations, with important implications for the travel industry.
A number of sectors of the travel industry have benefited from this trend as local attractions, despite the lack of visiting tourists, are attracting locals!
Staycation at Your Local Mall
One day in January, 2010, I decided to try out this experience. Just 20 minutes by car (or 45 minutes by train) from my apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is New Roc City, an indoor entertainment complex in New Rochelle, New York. With plenty of parking and, the New Rochelle stop on the Metro North line a short walk away, getting there from New York City is quite easy. Your local mall may have an entertainment complex like this right inside.
New Roc City is so special because it has a 19-screeen-movie theatre, a health club, an ice skating rink, restaurants and shopping. The highlight of New Roc City though, is Funfuzion, a venue that includes a glow in the dark bowling alley, a large billiards hall, a go-kart track, laser tag, bumper cars and a glow in the dark mini golf course, not to mention hundreds of video games.
Funfuzion features Space Shot, a 185 foot tall tower upon which 12 people can be shot up at a time. During the spring and summer when the ride is open, families can great views of the Long Island Sound and New York City. There’s also a small food court and bar.
Staycation Locations often have Great Deals
I chose to visit on a Wednesday because Funfuzion has designated this “Wacky Wednesdays” and offers great deals. The Fuzion package, which goes for $20, includes 4 hours of unlimited video games, rides, laser tag and bumper cars. It also includes unlimited pizza and soda. $5 more gets you the “Get Fuzed” package, which adds a round of mini golf to the fun.
For $30, you can get the “Super Fuzed” package, which includes everything in the previous packages in addition to two games of bowling.
While all of the packages offer a great value, I went with the “Get Fuzed” package, and would highly recommend it for non-bowlers. I arrived at Funfuzion at about 5pm, and immediately started playing video games. They have hundreds of machines, and anyone who even remotely enjoys video games should be able to enjoy themselves for well over an hour.
I interspersed the videogames with laser tag and bumper cars. There was never a long wait for laser tag and they have a well-designed course, which offers loads of fun. The bumper car track isn’t huge, but I had fun, despite getting bumped quite hard a few times.
Cheap, Fun Way to Feed & Wear Out the Kids!
After a few exhausting games of laser tag, we headed over to the food court where we enjoyed unlimited pizza, Coke and Sprite. While the pizza certainly wasn’t gourmet, it was reasonably tasty considering the venue, and gave me enough energy to finish the four-hour stretch.
After refueling we headed downstairs to the mini-golf course, which offers a great 18-hole course, painted in some of the most unbelievable glow in the dark paint I’ve ever seen.
There are four distinct rooms, each with a different theme, ranging from under the sea to a medieval castle.After spending four hours at Funfuzion I was exhausted — so your kids certainly would be — and ready to go home. For anyone with a tight budget and some free time, I highly recommend taking a staycation.
While potential staycations run the gauntlet from hiking to the zoo, I recommend indoor theme parks. I’m sure there are hundreds around the country, but here’s a notable one: Mulligan Family Fun Center (310/325-3950), an indoor playland and outdoor waterpark outside of Los Angeles, at 1351 West Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501. They also have branches in Murrieta and Palmdale, California.
Another favorite is the Mayan Adventure Indoor Water Park (630/279-1100) in Chicago, located at the The Holiday Inn Chicago-Elmhurst Hotel, 624 North York Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126. Half-Day passes (plenty of time for most families) are $30 and there’s even an on-site hotel, with great rates and SpongeBob themed bunks for the kids.
For a more extensive list of staycation thempark options, see Luisa Frey Gaynor’s story on Indoor Amusement Parks.
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