News Flashes from Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine


Putt Putt Fun Center Adds Laser Tag by Creative Works

Creative Works once again traveled to Putt Putt Fun Center in Lynchburg, Va., during May of 2012 to install a new attraction for owner Joe Aboid.  This new Adventure Quest laser tag arena was the anchor attraction of the facility’s expansion.

This wasn’t the first time that Aboid contracted Creative Works for his facility, as he had the company install their popular Lazer Frenzy laser maze in 2011.  “I always enjoy building upon past relationships so it was great to work with Joe a second time,” commented Armando Lanuti of Creative Works.  When Aboid decided to expand his facility and was looking for attractions, laser tag stood out due to its interactive playability and high potential for revenue.  Because of his relationship with the company, he looked no further than the experts at Creative Works.  Joe knew with the 15-plus years experience and 350-plus projects to their name, Creative Works would be able to deliver the Wow Effect to his facility once again.

As soon as the contract was signed, Creative Works began the project management phase for the laser tag attraction.  They coordinated with the city, contractor, electricians, and all others involved to ensure a smooth and efficient process for Joe.

“We worked with him through several design revisions as we accommodated changes from the city that were required for his building layout, and everything has been well received,” Armando said.

Once production began, all of the props and pieces were fabricated at the 33,000-square-foot Creative Works Theme Factory.  This allowed Aboid’s site construction and arena fabrication to occur simultaneously, which accelerated the entire process.  Once the Creative Works team arrived in Virginia for the installation, it only took four days to complete the work, providing Aboid the ability to be up and running very quickly.

When the project was done, Aboid was extremely happy with the people he worked with and the results he saw.  “I want to express how professional the team was during the installation,” said Aboid.  “They took time to answer every question, offer suggestions and made the entire install a breeze for us.  Every company should have representatives as qualified as these individuals.”

LaserTAG360 by Creative Works Educates and Inspires

The laser tag experts at Creative Works just concluded another successful LaserTAG360 event in Indianapolis during the month of May.  Focusing on the keys to adding a successful laser tag attraction to a new or existing business, entrepreneurs and business owners from all over the United States as well as Canada and as far away as the Caribbean Islands, attended this two-day event.

Over 40 attendees as well as another dozen-plus sponsors and staff pushed the attendance to over 55, maxing out the space available.  “Due to the success of this event and having to turn away several at the last minute because of space constraints, we are having another event August 7th and 8th for people to attend,” commented Jeff Schilling of Creative Works.  During the two-day event, a number of important topics were discussed to help facilitate those interested in opening a laser tag attraction.  Day 1 consisted of topics focusing on design insights, average costs, revenue projections and much more while Day 2 focused on the operational and marketing side of running the business.  This complete, 360-degree snapshot helped those in attendance gain the knowledge to make better-informed decisions as they pressed forward with their projects.

Some of the comments coming from attendees included:  “This event gave me the knowledge I lacked as someone new to this business.  It was a great eye-opener.” “The education and resources they provided along with the fun and networking made this event one of the best I’ve attended.” “Creative Works is a company that cares about the details.  This was a memorable event that I’d recommend to anyone.”

Special networking events were arranged ahead of time for those coming in early including a special Indianapolis 500 race track experience that allowed attendees to see the Indy race cars and their drivers up close.  Evening events included dinner out as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of a popular restaurant and pub downtown at the heart of where the Superbowl village was set up earlier this year.

One of the most unique experiences during the event was the tour of the 20,000-square-foot Creative Works’ Theme Factory.  Everyone got a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the company designs, customizes and fabricates their attractions to fit the needs of their clients.  Additionally, the attendees got to experience the 7,000-square-foot specially built showroom featuring four themed Laser Tag Arenas, Cosmic black light Golf, the award-winning Lazer Frenzy lazer maze and the new mobile family entertainment center on wheels called The Game Patrol.

“The event, the staff, the facilities, the education, the networking and the fun was priceless,” commented one of the attendees.  Registration for the next LaserTAG360 event on August 7-8 has now begun. Visit the company online for additional information and to book your spot today.

Tourist Attractions & Parks Is Looking for Your Letters

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2012 marks the 40th anniversary of a one-of-a-kind publication, Tourist, Attractions & Parks. We have a hard-working staff that is dedicated year in and year out to publishing a high-quality magazine.
To commemorate this special anniversary, we are putting together a scrapbook of letters, some of which will also be published on our website. I hope you have found our magazine to be helpful to your business and would ask you to write a short congratulatory letter on your letterhead so it can be shared with our staff in the scrapbook and also with our readers online. Your letter will be greatly cherished and appreciated. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Scott C. Borowsky
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Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine
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Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine Newsletter Editorial Feature

Business Strategies: Choosing the ‘Best’ Coin-Operated Entertainment and Foodservice Equipment

All owners and operators of leisure entertainment facilities want to invest in the “best” coin-operated entertainment options and food machines. With a few exceptions, what is “best” for one venue may not be so for the establishment down the street, or across the country. However, evaluating potential purchases against several set criteria can increase the potential for making a buying or leasing decision that most closely suits a given facility’s needs.

In selecting coin-operated entertainment, it is imperative to look at the objectives behind adding new machines in the first place. For instance, said David Peretz, founder and president of Laser Star Amusements, does there exist a desire to attract a wider customer demographic in an effort to sharpen the competitive edge and/or bring in new business?

Some family fun centers that have traditionally catered to very young families are installing coin-operated simulators, virtual reality units and similar coin-operated units which, because they incorporate high-tech elements that give guests the “impression” of an experience, lure older youngsters and young adults while simultaneously distinguishing their venues from the pack. As an example, flight and roller coaster simulators are now part of the coin-operated entertainment lineup at Tree House Arcade at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn., said Patrick Smalley, amusement operations manager. Air Zoo in Portage, Mich., added flight simulators for much the same reason, stated Bob Ellis, director.

In addition to their objectives in buying or leasing new coin-operated machines, it behooves operators to assess which existing equipment does not appear to hold as much appeal for customers as other units, along with what diversions visitors themselves have been requesting. Then, advised Gary Balaban of Coast to Coast Entertainment, “go with the ‘opposite’ of the neglected equipment and with whatever is close to consumer demand.”

Balaban pointed to a heightened tendency among his company’s customers to request redemption games whose design allows them to be filled with more valuable “grown-up” prizes, like electronics and accessories. Units with oversized claws, or those that require players to “capture” prizes by maneuvering a pair of scissors to cut a string, also fit the bill, reported Alan Phillips, owner , Shelton, Conn.

Conversely, at Harford Lanes in Aberdeen, Md., Owner Bob Marshall is seeing a “great return” on “any coin-operated machine that kids can use to win plush animals” and similarly wholesome prizes. Marshall added such machines when parents with younger children asked him to do so. He said machines of this type are a great fit for leisure entertainment facilities that cater to families with younger children because many games are not appropriate for smaller kids, and parents are unwilling to play anymore.

Worth considering as well is whether a particular coin-operated entertainment offering bears too close a resemblance to, or even mimics, an activity guests can enjoy at home and, consequently, will not want to pursue in an environment where they must pay to do the same thing. “The technology of home games has made this portion of the business ever more challenging,” said a manager at Balboa Fun Zone in Balboa, Calif. “People ask themselves, ‘Why should I pay to play this here, when I can do something very similar in my living room or home game room?’”  The biggest money-earners for the facility include boxing games and “buck hunting”-type games.

As for determining what constitutes the “best” foodservice equipment, the top criteria is how closely the unit fits a facility’s need to produce the desired menu item(s). “For example, if during peak times, like Saturday nights, you serve 500 to 600 people, you probably need lower-capacity equipment than you would if your guest count is closer to 1,000,” advised Paul Artt, president of Quick n’ Crispy Greaseless Fryers. Additionally, he always recommends that owners and operators of leisure entertainment facilities, particularly family entertainment centers, ensure that the overall extent of their foodservice business justifies their planned equipment acquisition, and that their wallets can bear the additional expenditures wrought by some types of units.

Kevin Pedersen, marketing manager, Perfect Fry Company, agreed. Among other considerations, he cited available floor space, and whether it is sufficient to accommodate both new and existing equipment components. The existence of, or budget for, complementary components (e.g., a hood fan and ventilation system, as well as fire suppression equipment, if a fryer is on the shopping list); constitute another criterion. Also warranting investigation and consideration are leasehold conditions, franchise restrictions and similar factors that may impact the type of foodservice options available, who will be operating the equipment and what safety regulations may affect this, fire and safety codes, and more.

One final caveat to remember: less expensive, non-commercial foodservice equipment never falls into the “best” category. One upstate New York bowling alley owner ignored such advice and purchased several small fryers that had been designed for home use. The units could neither keep up with demand, nor withstand heavy daily usage in the snack bar. They were quickly scrapped in favor of their commercial counterparts.


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