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About Family Entertainment Centers

We're tracking the evolution of FEC's along with recreation adventure parks - they've got some common features.
We've updating our information, please check back soon.

We enjoy tracking location-based entertainment, including just about anything about family entertainment centers.  The term used in out-of-home entertainment, “family entertainment center (FEC)” is difficult to define.   There is the traditional use of the term that is typically meant to include a venue with several entertainment offerings.   These typical offerings include miniature (mini putt) golf, a karting (go-kart) track, a video games arcade (usually with redemption), laser tag, bumper cars, and the like.   Some FEC’s include batting cages, paintball, climbing walls, roller skating and virtual reality games in the arcade.

 

A characteristic of family entertainment center “things to do” is that the amusements are, almost without exception, off-the-shelf products from industry vendors. This is due simply to the scale of investment for FEC’s, that must match the limited customer support available in sub-regional markets.

 

Lately, outdoor recreation “adventure parks” have been adding guest activities while many FEC’s do likewise.   Both of these location-based entertainment offerings seem to be evolving towards each other.

 

About Family Entertainment Centers

Conceptual exploration by Adventure Entertainment Cos., looking at an outdoor unsecured version of a typical family center center.

 

 

The FEC industry has included a large number of non-chain individually-owned venues.  However, over the past decade or two we’ve seen industry consolidation of these independents and smaller chains.

 

As well, there have been attempts to create FEC’s based on well-known consumer brands (Legoland Discovery Centers, Club Disney, DisneyQuest), along with well-financed attempts to create multi-unit chains of all-new brands and intellectual property (Wannado City, GameWorks, Adventure Landing).  The co-founder of our firm worked on several such branded FEC concepts while helming location-based entertainment at NBCUniversal Parks and Resorts Group.   NBCUniversal was one of the backer’s of GameWorks at the time and (along with Sega and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks) was looking for additional consumer product licensing opportunities.  The GameWorks venture allowed NBCUniversal a learning curve about family entertainment centers.

 

There are also a number of products that have been successful that can be included in the family entertainment center category, although some of these are just as appropriate when included in themed restaurants listings.  Examples of such products are Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Buster’s.

FEC’s – an Industry History

FEC NameProduct SummaryFirst Unit Year
Adventure LandingFirst park opens in Jacksonville Beach (Florida), in 1995, a project of the Adventure Entertainment Company. 1995
AdventurelandAn indoor 70,000 SF family entertainment center located in the Sahara Centre shopping mall in Sharjah (UAE).2002
All-American SportParkA themed FEC concept involving Andre Agassi 1998
America’s Incredible Pizza Co.
The first restaurant opened in Springfield (Missouri) in 2002.2002
BattleTech CenterThe first BattleTech Center opened in Chicago in 1990, with others to follow eventually tallying 26 such facilities. 1990
Big Thrill FactoryFirst Unit opened in a former Kmart store on Highway 7 i Minnetonka. Named #1 Family Entertainment Center in North America by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), in November 2017. A concept of Barry Zelickson, majority partner in the game center.2013
Blockbuster's BlockPartyBlockbuster, a unit of Viacom, opens its first unit in Albuquerque, Indianapolis to follow in the next year. BlockParty is an indoor entertainment complex with high-tech games for adults.1994
Boomers! ParksThe FEC's are owned and operated by Palace Entertainment (Parques Reunidos).2001
Castle Park RiversideA 25-acre amusement park and family entertainment center located in Riverside (California). Formerly operated as Castle Amusement Park. Now owned and operated by Palace Entertainment.1976
Celebration StationWhiteco Industries opened first unit in Merrillville, Indiana.1982
Chuck E. CheeseFirst unit opens in San Jose, California, called Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre. Concept was created by Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded Atari.1977
Club DisneyDisney opens five Club Disney units quickly, later deciding that all units would be shuttered by November, 1999.1997
Dave & BustersFirst unit opens in Dallas. The brainchild of David Corriveau and James "Buster" Corley, who famously removed the demising wall that divided their two separate, already operating entertainment venues.1982
Discovery Zone Play PlaceFirst unit opened in Kansas City (Missouri). Famed tennis professional, Billie Jean King, was an early investor.1989
DisneyQuestA Disney Regional Entertainment business unit, designed as a way for guests to experience the Disney Parks without having to be at the actual theme park destination. First unit located in Disney Downtown entertainment district (now Disney Springs). A second unit opened a year later in Chicago.1998
ExploratoriumA San Francisco institution, was founded by physicist and educator Frank Oppenheimer and opened in 1969 at the Palace of Fine Arts. Since relocated.1969
Frankie’s Fun ParkCarolinas region; The Godley Group Holdings, LLC (Charleston, South Carolina). The 84,000-square-foot indoor portion of Frankie’s Fun Park in Charlotte has 24 bowling lanes, a restaurant, bar, laser tag, three-story playground, ride that drops 30 feet, LED-illuminated bumper cars and a large arcade. There are significant additional attractions outdoors at the 20-acre park.
Fun City1999
GameWorksNow owned by ExWorks Capital, LLC with seven locations (2020).1996
HappylonOpened at the Filion Mall in Moscow,2010
Hasbro FEC'sKilburn Live selected to design-build-operate a chain of Hasbro-branded FEC's. The centers will use Hasbro properties to "create interactive, immersive and innovative entertainment experiences in a high-energy, gamified environment with multiple activity zones." Licensed brands announced for the centers to date include My Little Pony, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Clue, Battleship, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Trivial Pursuit, Chutes and Ladders, among others.
Goff Capital is an investor.
2020
Iwerks CinetropolisCreated by Donald W. Iwerks, the Disney technical guru and founder of Iwerks Entertainment Inc. The venue eventually closed in 2003.1993
John's Incredible Pizza Co.First unit opened in Victorville, California in a 16,000 SF location. 1997
KidZaniaFirst unit opens in Santa Fe, Mexico (a suburb of Mexico City), a concept created by Xavier López Ancona. Initially known as La Ciudad de los Niños.1999
Legoland Discovery Centerindoor family attraction chain operated by British leisure group Merlin Entertainments. 2007
Loulou Al Dugong'sOpens in Dubai in a 25,000 SF space.2000
Magic PlanetFirst unit opened at City Centre Deira, in Dubai. A concept of Majid Al Futtaim Group.1995
Main Event First Unit opened in Lewisville, TX in 1998. Main Event operates throughout the U.S., with venues ranging in size from 45,000 to 75,000 SF. Headquartered in Plano, TX; a subsidiary of Leisure Group of Australia.1998
Malibu Grand PrixFirst Uni opens in Fresno, California. Franchised miniature "Indy car" racing track. Palace Entertainment purchased the three remaining Malibu Grand Prix locations, in 2002.1977
Meow WolfAn artist's collaborative first organized years before, combines to create this successful curiosity.2016
Mountasia Family Fun Centers1995
Regal FunScape
Round OneFounded in Japan in 1980 by Masahiko Sugino, a company called Sugino Kosan that featured a roller skate facility with arcade games. This company later became the first Round One store in 1993. 1993
Scandia Amusement ParkScandinavian-themed FEC's located at two locations in California.
Sega GameworksFirst unit opens in Seattle.1997
Sega Joypolis1994
SegaWorld LondonThe 6 floor indoor arcade opened at The Trocadero in London.1996
Survios VRFirst Survios V/R arcade opens at Del Amo Mall (Torrance, California).2018
Two Bit CircusHybrid out-of-home arcade with featured virtual reality experiences, presented by Brent Bushnell.2018
uWinkA Nolan Bushnell concept, first unit of 5,400 SF opened at Westfield Promenade, in Woodland Hills (California).2006
Vertigo Arcades
Virtual World EntertainmentVWE billed itself as the “world’s first digital theme park.1994
VirtuaLand at the LuxorAn indoor Sega arcade.1993
Virtuality ArcadesThe first VR machine for arcades.1991
Wannado CityAn indoor children's role-playing amusement center, a property of Grupo CIE. Opened at Sawgrass Mills (Sunrise, FL).2004

Directory of Family Entertainment Centers - 2020

From the Research unit, SCP Adventure Entertainment Cos. LLC

About Family Entertainment Centers

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