Business Strategies: Theming Your Leisure Entertainment Facility for Maximum Impact

March 5, 2012 No Comments

“Theming” is a great way for leisure entertainment facilities to enhance their guests’ experience and distinguish themselves from similar operations, providing it is well thought out and thoroughly executed.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with selecting a theme based at least in part on instinct or personal preference, other considerations can, and probably should, come into play. Location constitutes a prime example. Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, which opened in McMinnville, Wash., last June, has an aviation theme because it lies adjacent to and shares a campus with the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. As a decision was made to build the waterpark, “considerable thought” was devoted to its design and features, and management concluded that given the proximity to the museum, it would be “nonsensical” for the facility to have a theme other than aviation, stated Larry Wood, executive director.
Many vendors, among them Art Attack, Enchanted Castle Studios, R &R Creative Amusement Designs and Water Odyssey by Fountain People, have creative staff who will assist with and make suggestions regarding theming. Bill Hachmeister, national accounts manager at Water Odyssey by Fountain People, said any theme that somehow depicts the general area in which a leisure entertainment facility or that area’s history, usually works well; the company’s design team will review photographs of the destination in question to derive suggestions. Should a local area not tout an obvious theme, sources stated, owners and operators might pick two or three generic ones that are currently popular, then look to a vendor to propose means of giving each one of them a unique twist.
For maximum impact, a theme should be carried forward through leisure entertainment facilities’ every facet, physical and otherwise. As an example, there will ideally be a tie-in between the theme and the fixtures and furnishings. Many customers of Flagship Industries select carpet or rugs in a color and motif whose design mirrors a theme; for example, an animal-embellished rug for an operation with an animal theme, said Vicki Winkler, general manager. The same is true of customers of Omega Patternworks, where it is not unusual, for instance, for the proprietor of a facility with a space theme to opt for carpet decorated with stars, a spokesperson noted.
Similarly, indoor and outdoor murals and the like can be rendered in motifs to match or subtly reinforce a theme; for instance, a pirate mural for a pirate-themed family entertainment center. On the subtle side, a jungle-themed center could utilize bright greens and earth tones to meld with the overall theme. At Oasis Family Fun Center in Glen Mills, Pa., Owner Glenn Feldman commissioned an artist to paint a mural that would link with the facility’s “community fun” theme. The mural, which covers a large portion of the wall in the snack bar area, portrays many community members playing on a grassy playground. At Tiki Action Park in Centereach, N.Y., the tiki theme is apparent even within the laser tag area, where players see the image of a flaming tiki head.
As an alternative or adjunct to murals, consider using digital technology for the purpose of “theming.” Such technology, sources said, includes the digital projection of images onto facilities’ walls. One advantage here is that unlike “painted-on” elements, these images can move with an operation should it ever re-locate, saving a considerable re-investment in themed décor for the new site.
Some leisure entertainment facilities also see the value of touting their theme in promotions and on collateral. All online and printed materials designed to promote Tiki Action Park incorporate a logo that depicts a tiki head atop a golf cart. Oasis Family Fun Center utilizes a similar strategy. Its mascot, a dog dressed in play clothes, is also depicted in the facility’s décor; the canine’s image can even be found in a corner of the mural.
Moreover, focusing on a leisure entertainment facility’s theme and how it is carried out, paying attention to the smallest details, is paramount. For example, artists working on the fixtures for Wings & Waves Waterpark were careful to create models of the Discovery Space Shuttle with a waterslide in its base, and a miniature Messerschmitt World War II fighter aircraft slide exactly to scale of, and as close in color to, the “real thing” as possible. A lesser degree of diligence would have detracted from the impact of the theming, as well as from the overall guest experience.
One final caveat to remember: Avoiding theming is better, as one source put it, than executing the vision only partially. “It all comes down to goals and personal preferences,” she concluded. “However, half-completed theming will detract from, rather than attract visitors to, leisure entertainment facilities of any kind.”

Industry News

A Remembrance – Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine and the entire industry were saddened to hear of the death of Steve Kordek.

“I first met Steve in 1970 at the Williams headquarters at 3401 N. California Avenue Chicago. I was there for a meeting with Sam Stern (Gary Stern’s father) to try and get distribution rights for Williams games in Australia. Steve was the designer of a single player pinball game called ‘Doodlebug,’ which turned out to be the first Williams pinball that we distributed in Australia. At that time, Steve had been designing pinballs for more than 30 years,” said Malcolm Steinberg, chairman, LAI Group.
“Even after his retirement, he remained active in the industry and was responsible for forming the Century Club for old timers in the industry like me. We met at least once a year at industry tradeshows in the United States. Steve was responsible for many innovations in the pinball industry. These included twin flippers at the bottom of the playfield, drop targets in 1962 and multi-ball in 1963.” Steinberg said.
Kordek will be remembered as one of the great icons of the industry.

Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe Is in Stock and Shipping Now

The first production release of the Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe units were so much in demand that the units sold out before NAMCO America officially unveiled it to both United States and international buyers at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011 late last year.
The deluxe units have been out in the field for 1.5 months and the performance is off the charts. The collection reports being reported put Pac-Man Battle Royale at or near the top of the location against attractions with far heftier price tags. The deluxe cabinets officially launched in December to great fanfare with launch parties in 20 different Dave & Buster’s locations across the United States. The two-day launch event saw Pac-Man Power Girls appearing in locations from Times Square in New York to San Diego, California. Guests at the launch party locations were greeted by a Pac-Man Power Girl and were given free game swipes to try out the new multi-player game. Players at the event were also given limited edition Mardi Gras beads emblazoned with the iconic Pac-Man logo. Photos of the launch parties can be seen on the official Pac-Man Battle Royale Facebook page at

One of the greatest things about Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe is that it packs an outstanding attraction at about the floor space size of a twin driving game. Nowhere else can an operator get this much punch packed into this small of a package. When a player walks into a location it is almost impossible to miss the large monitor and glowing neon lights. Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe is available now through all of NAMCO America’s authorized distributors. For more information about Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe, please visit the company online or call.
About NAMCO America, Inc.
NAMCO America, Inc. (NAI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of NAMCO BANDAI Holdings Inc. NAI uses cutting-edge technology and advanced electronics to take their coin-operated video games far beyond traditional entertainment.


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