As you get older, the number of opportunities you have to jump inside bounce castles starts to dwindle. Luckily there’s an inflatable attraction that’s currently touring the U.S., and it’s big enough to hold guests of all ages.
The Big Bounce America bills itself as the biggest bounce house in the world. According to KHON2, it comprises five sections that span 10,000 square feet when assembled into one unit. The castle’s turrets reach a maximum height of 32 feet and require 28 blowers to fully inflate.
The bouncy behemoth is the brainchild of Scottish duo Cameron Craig and Grahame Ferguson. They write on the Big Bounce website: “We had a dream. A dream to build a bounce house. A bounce house so awesome in scale and content that you, your friends, and your families would travel from far and wide to marvel at its awesomeness.”
Following two years of research, they went to Cleveland to achieve their goal of constructing the world’s largest bounce house. They started taking their creation across America in July and plan to continue the tour through November, with stops in San Diego, Houston, Portland, Oregon and beyond.
Tickets cost $12 to $39 and include full access to the castle's basketball hoops, obstacle courses, ball pits, and inflatable chill out areas. Bouncers ages zero to 100 are welcome, but single adults will have to wait for a 16-and-over session to join in the fun.
Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Replay Lincoln Park
One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one does simply walk into The Lord of the Rings pop-up bar in Chicago—as long as you’re at least 21 years old, of course.
Replay Lincoln Park, known for elaborate themed pop-ups for Game of Thrones, South Park, and other entertainment franchises, has transformed its premises into a magical reproduction of Middle-earth aptly called “The One Pop-Up to Rule Them All,” open now through March 23.
Inside, you’ll be able to crouch under an outcropping of tangled tree roots while one of the dreaded Nazgûl lurks above you, high-five a grimacing Gollum, and snap photos with all your favorite Lord of the Rings characters.
The Nazgûl like to party, too.
Replay Lincoln Park
You might want to skip elevenses to make sure you have plenty of room for a Hobbit-approved feast during your visit. The menu, catered by Zizi’s Cafe, features items like Fried Po-tay-toes, Lord of the Wings, Beef Lembas, and Pippen’s Popcorn.
Say hello to a friendly Ent while you munch on "Pippen's Popcorn."
Replay Lincoln Park
According to Thrillist, there will be three different counters in the bar, each with its own specialty drinks. Head to The Prancing Pony for a second breakfast shot (maple whiskey, bacon, and orange juice), or take a trip to Minas Tirith to toss back a palantir shot, made of silver tequila and passion fruit purée. If you’re in the mood for a little dark magic, you can trek over to Mordor and try a “my precious” shot, a fusion of dark rum, orange liquor, and Cajun seasoning.
The Eye of Sauron is watching you order another round of Mordor shots.
Replay Lincoln Park
For those of you who are happy to accompany your Tolkien-obsessed friends to the pop-up but aren’t exactly tickled at the sight of a moss-covered Ent replica yourselves, take heart in this added bonus: Replay Lincoln Park also boasts more than 60 free arcade games and pinball machines.
Many people overdo it with the drinking on St. Patrick's Day, but it's not always Guinness or Jameson that gets them into trouble. Sometimes it's the Shamrock Shake, McDonald's uniquely green and often elusive seasonal treat. Here’s the skinny on the 660-calorie indulgence.
1. The Shamrock Shake wasn't originally known as The Shamrock Shake.
What does the Shamrock Shake have to do with the Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia Eagles? Everything, according to the fast food giant. When Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s daughter was being treated for leukemia in 1974, Fred and his wife spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and noticed many other emotionally depleted families doing the same. He thought it would be healthier for families if they had a place to call home while their children were being treated, so he used his football connections to get in touch with a local advertising agency that did work for Mickey D’s. They agreed to give profits from the Shamrock Shake toward a home near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, which ended up becoming the first-ever Ronald McDonald House.
3. Uncle O'Grimacey used to be the Shamrock Shake's ambassador.
Back in the early ‘80s, a fairly offensive character named Uncle O’Grimacey was used to promote the seasonal shake.
4. No McDonald's restaurant is required to offer the Shamrock Shake.
In 2012, it was announced that, for the first time, the Shamrock Shake would be available in all McDonald's nationwide—but not all restaurants have to carry them. Regional managers decide whether their stores will carry the shakes each year.
5. Jimmy Fallon once depleted a New York City restaurant's entire Shamrock Shake supply.
If you’re a New Yorker and you didn’t get a much-craved Shamrock Shake in 2011, it’s probably Jimmy Fallon’s fault. When he caught wind that a Union Square Mickey D's had the elusive dessert, he totally cleaned them out—purchasing more than 100 shakes for his audience. New Yorkers were not pleased with Fallon.
6. The Shamrock Shake got an ice cream offshoot (that didn't fare so well).
Despite the smashing success of the shake, the Shamrock Sundae was a dismal failure. Introduced in 1980, it was discontinued after just a year. Apparently people prefer their unnaturally green desserts in shake form as opposed to scoop form. Though this year, they're trying again: in honor of the Shamrock Shake's 50th anniversary, McDonald's is also introducing an Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.
7. There have been many super-sized versions of the Shamrock Shake.
For a few years, a giant shake was poured into the Chicago River to help contribute to the green hue it’s dyed every year. A donation was also made to the Ronald McDonald House.
8. The McDonald's app will help you track down a Shamrock Shake.
Are you one of those unfortunate souls who has to hunt the shake down every year? McDonald's official app can help. In 2020, for the first time in three years, the Shamrock Shake will be offered at all McDonald's locations. If you're not sure of the nearest one near you, the McDonald's app has a full directory to help.
9. You can make your own Shamrock Shake at home.
If you still can’t find a shake, you have one other option: make your own.
10. In 2017, McDonald's engineered a special Shamrock Shake straw.
In 2017, McDonald's unveiled an amazing innovation for Shamrock Shake lovers: the STRAW. Short for Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal, the STRAW was designed by real engineers at the aerospace and robotics engineering firms JACE and NK Labs—specifically with the Shamrock Shake in mind. What sets the device apart from conventional straws is the sharp bend in its shape and the three, eye-shaped holes in addition to the opening at the bottom end. The extra holes are positioned in a way that allows drinkers to take a sip of a new layered version of the frosty treat that’s equal parts top mint layer and bottom chocolate layer.