Nothing says “I love-slash-hate you” quite like the gift of a unique, life-threatening experience.
Drive a Tank, From $399
“Do something different” is the tagline at this family-owned, -operated, and –friendly destination in Kasota, Minnesota—and they’re not kidding. After a basic training session, you’ll get behind the wheel of a real-life armored tank and attempt to weave your way around trees as you lap around a thickly wooded course. If that sounds a little too tame, opt for the “car crush” package to experience the extreme rush of steam-rolling right over a 1992 Ford Taurus or two. The fun continues over at the indoor shooting range, where offerings include fully automatic machine guns and a bunch of other firearms that don’t really matter, because you’re gonna want to go with the fully automatic machine guns.
The Cage of Death: Australia, From $110
This Australian attraction combines two of our favorite things: Crocodiles, and confined underwater spaces. Wait, did we say favorite things? We meant “things we least want to be killed by”. Crocosaurus Cove is home to 200 crocodiles, and despite their charming names (such as Chopper, Denzel, Houdini, and Bess), they are not to be underestimated. Go for a 15-minute dip in the cylindrical Cage of Death, a clear tank that is submerged in the crocs’ habitat during feeding time. Sure, you’ll be separated by a thin plate of glass, and it’s all totally safe, but that doesn’t mean the chances of being eaten by a crocodile aren’t statistically higher when you go diving in their backyard than they would be if you just stayed home.
Let R Buck Bull Riding School, From $175
How many times have you been the jackass who, after one too many tequila shots, decides to flaunt your prowess on the mechanical bull at some dive bar, only to be thrown from the saddle in record time? Well, you could have avoided all that if you’d just taken a few lessons at this Connecticut-based bull-riding school. They supply the expertise and the equipment, though you’ll need to come prepared with your own cowboy boots, long-sleeve button-up shirt, and mouth guard. A mere six classes later, you’ll graduate at a professional rodeo level, which more than qualifies you for drunken mechanical bull-riding.
Nascar Racing Experience, From $69.99
The Nascar Racing Experience offers fans the chance to—you guessed it—experience Nascar racing, while you whip around a real-life speedway in a real-life Nascar vehicle. A range of package offerings mean everyone can participate—even total pussies, thanks to short “ride-alongs,” which consist of sitting shotgun in a stock car while someone else drives it around the track. But genuine risk-takers will want to opt for the hardcore racing sessions, which feature up to 40 laps of timed speed-racing, with no lead car to follow and no pesky instructor sitting in the passenger seat, killing your buzz. Passing other cars is not only permitted, it’s encouraged. As if you needed another excuse to go to Myrtle Beach…
This non-profit operation out of Fort Worth, Texas, aims to preserve a little slice of aviation history by offering regular citizens the chance to experience the thrill of flying in vintage wartime planes that have been restored to their original, flight-ready condition. The fleet includes a C3/C47 Southern Cross and a B25 Pacific Prowler, and these planes are the real-deal. They’re the very same war birds your grandpa and his buddies flew during World War II, and while you will likely never be as hardcore as they were, here’s your chance to fully appreciate their brand of badass-ness for at least 30-minutes. After that, you can go back to worrying about your Twitter and your sparkling water and whatnot.
Space Flight, $200,000
If you have $200K lying around and you haven’t yet signed up for Virgin Galactic’s space flight, you don’t deserve to have $200K lying around. But we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, because maybe you just haven’t considered how incredibly fucking awesome it would be to say you were one of the first civilians ever to travel to outer space. And that’s exactly what brilliant lunatic Sir Richard Branson is selling: Space tourism! It’s not entirely clear when you’ll actually depart, but whenever it finally happens, there’s only one way to guarantee you’ll be there - by buying tickets now, and then crossing your fingers that you’re still alive in 100 years.
You know the old saying: You haven’t really lived until you’ve careened down the side of an active volcano on a wooden sled. Or something like that. Yes, you, too, can partake in the adrenaline rush to end all adrenaline rushes, at Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro volcano—which last erupted in 1999—courtesy of a company called Bigfoot. For the frighteningly low price of $28, you’ll be provided with: “transportation in a monster Mercedes truck, all safety equipment including board, jumpsuit, and goggles, fun and bilingual guide, volcano boarding tutorial, your speed clocked by the Bigfoot radar gun, a cold celebratory beer at the bottom and two Mojitos upon return to Bigfoot!” At that price, it’s worth it for the two mojitos alone.
Wunderland Kalkar: Germany, Weekend admission packages start at € 135 (approximately $171 USD)
A benchmark of German ingenuity and foresight at its not-so-finest, plans for this nuclear power plant were abandoned after it had already been built. A Dutch investor bought the land and in 1991 converted it into an amusement park—keeping the nuclear reactor intact. Today, it boasts 40 attractions and rides, including a 58-meter-high vertical swing located inside the cooling tower. We’re American, so obviously we don’t know how the metric system works, but we’re guessing 58 meters is pretty tall.
Tower Edge Walking: Canada, $175
Are you one of those complete dicks who’s always saying things like, “live everyday like it’s your last” or, God forbid, “YOLO”? Then prove it. Sign up for Edgewalk, an activity in which people voluntarily scale the side of Toronto’s CN Tower, from a comfortable height of roughly 1,168 feet above street level. On purpose. (We know what you’re thinking, but forget it: All participants are subject to screening for drugs and alcohol beforehand.)
Yunessun Spa Resort: Japan, Admission starts at ¥1400 (around $18 USD)
This terrific Japanese spa will help you relax, renew, refresh, re—blah, blah, blah. No one cares. But there are two crucial reasons why we hope Santa sends us to Yunessun this year: First, we’re running out of places to put the coal he usually gives us. Second, this is the only spa we know of that has a monster-sized soaking pool filled with sake. From the website: “There is a constant dripping from a huge cask filled with real Japanese Sake!” And it gets better. There’s also a “wine spa”: “A unique spa containing real red wine. The huge wine bottle is 3.6m tall and is very remarkable. There are regular performances of pouring real wine into the spa a few times a day." They also have pools filled with coffee, green tea, and in case you didn’t hear us before, WINE AND SAKE.
More of the 2012 Maxim Holiday Gift Guide