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Live Active Cultures

The rides are back! "Spin-and-pukes" have returned to the annual IAAPA trade show

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Unfortunately, the glut of motion-enhanced multidimension movies continues unabated. Triotech's Zombies shooting game-slash-ride gave the adrenaline rush of Walking Dead meets Call of Duty, but it was the rare exception. Most of the 4-D, 5-D, 7-D and X-D experiences I endured forgot the D's of depth, detail and dialogue. On the other hand, more traditional video games may be on an upswing – despite the well-publicized death of American arcades – judging by the next-generation Wizard of Oz pinball tables, Pac-Man coin-ops and Angry Birds plush prizes.

Still, it was heartening to discover that, despite the omnipresence of silicon-fueled high-tech fun, high-touch still has its place. At least a half-dozen firms were ballyhooing high-speed high-air adventures; Spectrum Sports' Mobile Zip Line provided me a 28-foot overview of the hall and an 80-foot slide back down. Climbing walls in every shape and size were spotted, and the sight of a tethered teen tottering atop a "staircase" of green telephone poles nearly gave me a heart attack.

And once again, Pale Night Productions' display of horror effects proved the most touching. I navigated their pocket-sized (but marvelously detailed) haunted house and left with a faceful of fake brains.

Finally, a word on the most important fun-fair factor: the fried food. Sadly, none of the snacks I sampled this year stood out, between the flavorless waffles, burnt candied nuts and knockoff Dippin' Dots. But the "RockTop" – a 15-cent plastic hot dog/nachos tray that snaps atop your fountain beverage lid – is so ingenious, I can't imagine how I've managed to eat at the movies all these years without one.

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