JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN
Riding for Thrills
We’ve been amused by amusement parks since the first one opened in Connecticut in the mid-1800s. But, oh, how they’ve changed. The “thrill” of the first 360-degree looping roller coaster, which debuted in 1976, now pales in comparison to immersive 3-D simulator rides like Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, which seats more than 70 people at a time in a “flying theater.” “We’re always trying to marry technology to a story that gives us the ability to take people on an adventure like they’ve never been able to experience,” says Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative and vice chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts. “People’s expectations have become much more complex and we’ve had to evolve.” The Virginia-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions estimates that 385.2 million people visited parks in 2016 alone, generating a whopping $20.7 billion in revenue.
Kicking Up Our Heels
If you were inspired by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone tapping their way through La La Land or Rory Gilmore stress tapping on the Gilmore Girls reboot, you’re not alone. “I cannot say that didn’t influence me,” says Charlsie Niemiec, 29, of Great Barrington, Mass. “Taking dance as a little girl was something that always brought me joy, so I signed up for tap. I feel like I’m reconnecting to my 5-year-old self.”
Embracing Vitamin N
Turn your frown upside down! Studies have long linked being out in nature to an improvement in mood, and a little eco-therapy goes a long way in lowering
blood pressure and counteracting digital overload. Today’s nature lovers aren’t just hiking. The most popular outdoor sports include stand-up paddling (SUP), kayaking, BMX biking and surfing.
Playing Games at Home
Gone are the days when stately Trivial Pursuit was the standard recipe for family fun; highly interactive, widely social games now dominate the market. “People are passionate about playing games. There are more than 2.1 billion gamers in the world,” says Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming. “Games bring families and friends of all ages and generations together for fun and meaningful interaction.” Board game sales soared some 20 percent in 2016, according to the consumer trend and marketing group NPD, thanks in part to such hot properties as Hasbro’s Speak Out (where players try to speak various phrases while wearing a mouthpiece) and Pie Face Showdown (where players compete to try to avoid a face full of whipped cream).
Being Surprised at Supper
Supper clubs, all the rage in the ’40s and ’50s as a way to climb the social ladder, have seen a resurgence. “The name originally was used to conjure the feeling of exclusivity,” says filmmaker Holly De Ruyter, who chronicled Wisconsin’s supper club movement in her documentary Old Fashioned. Supper clubs now come in many forms—brick-and-mortars, pop-ups in one-time locations, even gatherings of strangers inside a private home. And while the food might be inventive and good, it often takes a backseat to the clubs’ social aspect. “They bring people together, creating a place to engage and connect,” De Ruyter says—something many people are looking for “as technology has enabled us to have fewer interactions with each other.”
Channeling Peter Pan
Lovers of AcroYoga and other circuslike arts such as trapeze flying are sometimes fitness freaks, but thousands of amateurs are jumping on this trend to channel their inner Peter Pan (and possibly create their next viral social media post). Other activities that mix fitness with fun include challenge competitions like the vibrant Color Run 5K (in more than 40 cities across the U.S.) and grimy Tough Mudder races; both have seen a meteoric rise in recent years. These obstaclecourse-driven races burn off last night’s binge, serve as solid team- or family-building exercises and are just plain fun.
Heading Out for Game Night
Ping-Pong, cosmic bowling, escape games, pub trivia nights—all are entertainment options that incorporate an element of competition. “I love doing different escape rooms with friends and co-workers, because I’m competitive by nature and
I always want to win,” says
Elizabeth Keaney, 35, of
Austin, Texas. “They’re also great activities for a group of varying ages and interests, especially with older kids.” Topgolf locations— golf-based theme parks with food and drink—have been popping up all over the U.S. They’re a game-night magnet for golfers and nongolfers in search of a good time.
Releasing Our Inner Artist
It’s trendier than ever to be artsy, thanks to the nationwide DIY movement that Pinterest spawned. Franchises such as Paint Nite have cropped up across the country, making painting a popular activity for birthday parties, bachelorette