A new entertainment center in Atchison, Kan., isn’t your typical family outing. With laser tag, rock climbing, archery, a cave spelunking simulator and more, Extreme Underground certainly seems to live up to its name.
After being open for less than four months, Extreme Underground already has earned a large following in the region because it offers something completely different for visitors. It’s an all-ages family fun center complete with interactive games both familiar and brand new. Adding to the appeal is the fact that it’s located in an underground limestone cave that used to be a bunker for the U.S. Army.
“In the ’40s the army started running part of it storing foods and rations, tons and tons of powdered eggs and powdered milk ... anything they needed at that time because we were at war,” manager Bryce Lee says.
The 2.7-million-square-foot space, which continued mining limestone until the war, later housed large army vehicles and eventually two top-secret document vaults — one of which has now been converted into a game room. In addition to Extreme Underground, the area also has Citadel Caverns tours and a public storage facility.
The games and activities offered at Extreme Underground are as numerous and unusual as the caves’ history. Miniature golf, laser tag, a rock wall, table tennis, foosball and Skee ball are some of the more familiar attractions. But what are Speleobox, archery tag, slacklining and Makoto Arena?
“Speleobox is a crawl-through maze. It’s to simulate caving or spelunking,” Mr. Lee says.
Composed of four levels of plywood, visitors enter on the second level and eventually climb and crawl through each layer until reaching the exit on the bottom level.
Archery tag “is like dodgeball with bows and arrows.” Arrows with big foam tips are lined up in the center of the room, and the two teams try to gather as many as they can to shoot at opposing players.
Slacklining is an activity that’s been increasing in popularity over the past few years. It’s essentially tightrope walking, just at a very low level. A flexible, durable line is strung between two anchors, and participants practice walking across it for as long as they can.
“The Makoto Arena was started out as kind of a personal martial arts trainer,” Mr. Lee says. “... It’s kind of like a giant Simon Says.”
Three pillars with 12 lights on each are positioned in a triangle shape. When a light comes on, participants have to punch or kick it to go off before the next one comes on, measuring your reaction time and accuracy as you play. It can be played by yourself, face-to-face with a challenger or in teams. This activity also has been adapted to be used in hospitals and therapy settings, but at Extreme Underground it’s simply a fun time.
Given the endless activity options, guests purchase tickets to be redeemed at each activity station. There also are unlimited play options for people looking for a whole day of fun, or monthly pass options for return visits. Even though it’s a brand new attraction, Extreme Underground is already a regional favorite.
“The reception has been very good. Until the last couple weekends because of weather and Christmas, we’ve progressively grown in attendance every week for the most part,” Mr. Lee says.
Almost all the activities are for all ages, but a few require an age limit of at least 8 years. While the facility takes all safety precautions into consideration, visitors sometimes must sign a safety waiver to participate in certain games. Visit extreme-underground.com or call (913) 674-5100 for pricing and reservation information.