Go 'N Bananas Family Fun Center, the newest indoor play place in Lancaster, is giant and jungle-themed. It opened Dec. 9. Go 'N Bananas is much more than a tricked-out jungle gym, however, with games and activities for everyone in the family.
"I got the idea while I was at a birthday party in Philadelphia," said owner Mark Legenstein, who is also a co-owner of Certified Carpet. As for the theme, "I woke up one morning and just thought of it."
Legenstein's idea for a place that the whole family can enjoy is now fully realized. Go 'N Bananas has already had VIP events, and friends and family days, in order to work out any kinks before the grand opening. "The feedback has been so positive. We invited some corporate guys to our VIP day, and they brought their families. The feedback they gave me wasn't stuffy; it was about how much fun they had with their kids."
As Joan Wurster, the General Manager, explains, "We want people to know this is a place for ages 2 to 92."
Go 'N Bananas, which is themed around a giant maze of slides, is available for anything from a birthday party, to youth lock-ins, to a corporate team event.
After walking through an archway straight out of the rainforest, the first area you'll see is Ballocity. Three levels tall and full of slides, Ballocity lets players shoot foam balls through just about any device you can think of. Ballocity has blasters, vacuums, fountains and cannons for you to send foam balls flying and falling inside a netted maze.
Occupying a corner space of the building is Ape Overboard. Think bumper boats without the water. These chairs are surrounded by inner tubes, letting riders spin on the spot, bump each other, and generally drive without rules.
In the corner on the other side of the maze, and flanked by a mural of snow-capped mountains, is Mini Bowling. Multiple miniature bowling lanes are topped with giant TV screens that can play cool videos or fun slideshows. Digital monitors let players watch the action and keep score.
Continuing around the maze, you'll see an arcade full of ape-sized games, reminiscent of a boardwalk carnival, with Skee-Ball, crane games and air hockey.
Tilt your head up to the ceiling, and you'll see a ropes course worthy of any jungle animal. Once you're strapped into your harness and hooked into a track, you can pick your way across wooden boards and ropes, all while having a birds-eye view of the arcade crowd below.
The action continues at the back of Go 'N Bananas, where the Laser Tag Arena waits to be explored. The laser tag maze is painted and decorated to feel like your battling in city streets and alleys, with no way to see who's coming around the corner, unless you're lucky enough to race up the ramp and take out opponents from the second level.
Players and families can buy food and drinks at the Congo Café, which is adjacent to the toddler play area. The padded play area for the littlest family members sits on the side of the maze, away from the most frenetic activities. Also on this side are the jungle-themed party rooms, each equipped with a flat screen TV. "For a birthday party last weekend, we uploaded Elmo videos because he liked 'Sesame Street,'" says Wurster.
Legenstein and Wurster aren't only interested in giving families a giant playground. They have also put together a team of people who love kids and are passionate about keeping the fun going. Instead of holding traditional interviews, they auditioned would-be staff members, giving them situations and watching them improvise what they would do. "You could see the leaders of each group," explains Legenstein.
Appropriately, Go 'N Bananas is opening just before the holidays, when everyone's focus is on spending time with family. "It just worked out that way," laughs Wurster. "It was meant to be."
If you go
Go 'N Bananas is located at 1170 Garfield Ave., off Dillersville Rd. between Manheim Pike and Harrisburg Pike.
Visit the Go 'N Bananas website, gonbananas.com, for hours and pricing.