The action has gone from pumping iron to pumping tokens. For years, buff bods went in to tone muscles at World Gym. Now, the site is Xtreme Adventures Family Fun Center, a central Pasco arcade with laser tag and other features that opened June 14.
After a $3 million renovation, owner Ann Atkinson and general manager Leila Kroll have traded in the free weights for prize tickets.
"It's different, for sure," Kroll said, referring to switching from bodybuilding to gaming high scores. "They're both fun places (the gym and Xtreme), but the kids here make it worthwhile. They can be so cute, especially when they win their tickets and they bring them to the counter (to exchange for prizes) and they take forever to select something. That's just great because they are usually pretty happy. It is so fun to see their smiles."
Xtreme includes a 6,000-square-foot, two-level arena housing Lazer Tag Adventure; an obstacle maze-like game called Lazer Frenzy in which participants must weave through lasers without touching them; a revolving rock climbing wall; Highway 66 Bowling, which is pretty much miniature bowling using small balls and pins; and an assortment of the latest arcade games.
"For miles this is the only place like this," Kroll said. "On a Friday or Saturday night, we're busy — just packed — but it's fun. Perhaps we've cornered the market and we're really trying to build up our parties and corporate events and even church groups."
Kroll says Lazer Tag, which has an adventure theme that screams Indiana Jones in a swirl of wild colors, is the main attraction. Lazer Frenzy, however, is a new and increasingly popular game.
"It reminds me of Mission Impossible," Kroll joked. "Kids love it because they challenge each other in there."
Kids of all ages have found their way to the 17,000-square-foot fun center, many of them riding their bikes from the Carpenter's Run subdivision just a stone's throw behind the building.
"There's just nothing for kids to do out here that's not sports," said manager Mark Arbert, Atkinson's brother. "When we first started pitching ideas, we were thinking a teen nightclub, but came to the arcade and laser tag instead. There is, however, a little of something for everyone, from little kids, to teens, to even adults. We feel like we got a lot of ground covered."
The fun center idea formalized mostly because Atkinson has teenagers, but Arbert soon realized Xtreme would differ from, say, Chuck E. Cheese. Not only is there a full kitchen and a bar with beer, Xtreme appeals to a wide range of customers.
Just like Jennifer Boroff, who played chaperone for her preteen son's birthday. He and his friends couldn't get into laser tag fast enough.
"(His) other (friends) had been here before, but he hadn't," Boroff said. "When we were pulling up in the parking lot they're like, 'Whoa, this is great.' They were pretty excited."
Kroll, a mother of young kids herself, can relate. Though she chuckles to herself when remembering how it habitually rains during the summer months. When the sky opened up, the doors to the gym wouldn't.
Not so with Xtreme. Rainy days become the excuse to go to the arcade "because the parents want the kids out of the house," Kroll said.
More than just getting out of the house, it's a new avenue for kids in this area.
"It's definitely different," said Gino Forrester, a Wesley Chapel resident, who, on his first visit, had his family of five partaking in everything Xtreme had to offer. "It's something off (State Road) 54 that doesn't take a while to get to. I thought there was everything there for any kids. Like the bowling. It seems to appeal to a bunch of ages. I'm pretty sure we'll be back."
Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 544-1771.