Application: Family Entertainment Centers
Location: Maineville, OH
When Dale Wilcox assessed the family entertainment industry a few years ago, he saw tremendous growth. Pizza joints, rec centers with rock climbing and bungee jumping, indoor golf and laser tag businesses were popping up all over the country. Opportunity was knocking and Dale was more than happy to open the door.
The Wilcox family established LazerKraze – a themed laser tag center – with a single location nine years ago. He now runs three high-end family entertainment centers in Erlanger, Kentucky, as well as in Columbus and Maineville, Ohio. With an eye on franchising in the near future, he is looking for a repeatable process to build even more centers.
“With LazerKraze we’re looking to put the players inside a video game,” Wilcox said. “We provide players with an elevated play surface that makes it feel as though you are inside a video game, while prioritizing the overall safety and durability of the structure.”
Elevated structures meant mezzanines and creating an environment that accommodated an exciting atmosphere with a safe playing field. Wilcox selected MiTek Mezzanine Systems to design and manufacture mezzanines to serve as the foundation of his customers’ experience.
LazerKraze needed a mezzanine that integrated ramps instead of steps to get to each level of play. It also required special design features that would allow for an eight-foot tower with state-of-the-art graphics.
“We had MiTek in to fix our first mezzanine designed by another company. We wanted to take a careful look at safety,” Wilcox said. “Ramps, handrails, decks. Everything was designed to reduce risk of someone getting hurt.”
MiTek visited the site to assess the overall facility, take field measurements and understand what LazerKraze needed to deliver its product and determine the best solution.
“They sent a regional manager to our center to get a feel for what we were looking to create. We provided a general layout for the structure, but they took the time to understand what we were trying to do to create an experience,” Wilcox said.
MiTek worked from Wilcox’s initial sketches to draw professionally engineered plans. Ramps were designed at a slightly steeper angle than normal to minimize floor space usage. Handrails were enclosed to prevent fingers or clothes from catching. Transition plates on deck surfaces were wrapped so players would not trip. Finally, special barriers were applied to ramps to make it tougher for players to laser each other.
MiTek has created play structures for LazerKraze at two locations. It now has a framework with which to build either the same or enhanced structures moving forward.
“MiTek understood what I was talking about right from the start,” Wilcox said. “They took my description of what I wanted and figured out a solution.”