Did you ever have any friends that gathered in the 80’s in a warehouse with fake fog and camo outfits to play paintball? My husband did. Maybe it’s because I grew up in NYC, but frankly, it wasn’t the sort of thing I was interested in.
Imagine my surprise to hear how far the sport (yes…sport!) has come in two decades. I sent my husband and Big (12) to play Paintball in Chicago (at Paintball Explosion in East Dundee, IL to be exact) as a part of a father-son birthday party. They returned with an unequivocal, resounding “Best Birthday Party EVER!”. It turns out that paintball has come a long way from the eighties. The guns are fully automatic, the game zones are intricate and creative, and teams can even go pro! The folks at Paintball Explosion are really clever: They took over a part of the “Santa’s Village” Amusement park and turned it into a post-apocalyptic amusement park with all sorts of battle venues both indoor and outdoor. They even duplicated arenas from the popular video game Nuketown and placed them within the old amusement park. (Your teen will know the reference.) Just imagine how cool it would be to play paintball in an old deserted amusement park! I’m definitely going to go and try it out myself this spring with Big and husband!
Paintball Explosion has free play (anyone can show up) all Saturday and good portions of Thursday –Sunday. The caution here is, unless you come with a group, you are assimilated into teams of people you don’t know. Some of these teams have played this many many times before which might be intimidating for some kids. They also offer Laser Tag and Airsoft options if your group isn’t quite ready for paintball yet.
Our tip: rent a private session for a group of 8-20 folks. Then the courses are all yours, and you’ll rotate through them with only your friends and a helpful professional guide/referee who will get everybody outfitted and keep everybody safe. (Facemasks worn at all times, safety’s on, gun barrel protectors on, etc.)
Given the nature of this bad-boy activity, it’s probably best for the 12+ set, but for the thrill of the hunt and the stories of the heroics at the dinner table later that night, it simply can’t be beat.
Unless, you’ve saved your gear from the 80’s (and given the tech advancements I don’t suggest you try to dust it off), you’ll have to add the cost of rental gear to the admittance fee. It’s not inexpensive, but the stories are yours forever. For a few of you adventurous souls or to get a bit of father-daughter/father-son bonding time, this is a very real explosion of fun.
Tip: next to Paintball explosion on East Dundee there is an amusement park for the 12 and under crowd, so the older folks can play with paintball guns while the younger group can ride the rides. Paintball Explosion is about a 40 minute drive (West) from Chicago.
601 Dundee Ave East Dundee, IL 60118