In celebration of National Laser Tag Day (or International Laser Tag Day...I've seen it written both ways) I had the idea to try to play as many different laser tag systems as possible in one day based on the number of centers in my state within a "sensible" driving distance ('geddon, party of one?). This was a slightly spur of the moment plan that occurred to me early in the morning while I was posting info about the photonforever.com website (which I was up even earlier in the morning launching because I thought it would be fun for it to go live on March 28, 2015). So I went to wheretoplaylasertag.com and plotted out a series of stops with the intention of playing one game in each location. Here was my intended agenda:
1. Zone - drive the first hour to check into my regular local center and purchase their special Laser Tag Day offer (a ten game card at a special rate available just for this day)
2. Laser Quest - from there drive an additional hour + to sample a little Quest on the American side
3. Laser Runner - looks like there's a place within a few miles of the Quest center
4. Laser Storm - venture onward to a skate park with laser tag about an hour past that point
5. Lasertron - make my way to the far edge of the state
6. Laserforce - turn myself around and drive back towards home hitting this stop in route
7. Zone - go seven miles over, back to actually play some Zone in my home arena, possibly using the card with the games I bought earlier in the day
Great (crazy) plan, right? I thought it would be a long day, but possible. Well, my actual day went a little differently (in hindsight I probably should have headed out earlier), but was still a great time.
Interestingly enough, what I spent Laser Tag Day doing to a larger than anticipated extent was...well, informing the employees at these laser tag centers that it actually was Laser Tag Day (face palm) and that this was in fact a real thing. I was a bit astonished that this was not even on their radar at three of the locations where I stopped.
I'll predominantly reference these centers by their system, but considering my local Zone center not only knew about Laser Tag, but did something extra special in recognition of it I think they deserve a little extra spotlight. Here's the card I bought...
Since 2015 marks 31 years of the laser tag industry (which began with Photon), the special offer for 31 years was ten games for $31 on a pre-paid card, bringing the price down to $3.10 a game...great deal!
When I walked in just after noontime (an unusual hour for me to show up) the staff member on duty recognized me and reached under the counter before I could even say a word. As I began to say I wasn't there to play right at the moment he pulled out the card and said "I bet you're here for this, aren't you." Smile...am I that predictable? He rang up my sale and went over the details that there were no restrictions on the card, but that it must be used before the end of November...then he paused and said "but I don't think that will be an issue for you." I love that they know me there. It's a great place to play laser tag.
Everything was on track at that point when I headed out for the Laser Quest Center about an hour and a half to the west. Upon arrival I bought a game from the attendant at "mission control" and asked him if they were offering anything special for Laser Tag Day. He said with wide eyed surprise "there's a laser tag day?" I said "yes, it's today" and someone else chimed in over his shoulder that "every day is laser ta day." Fair enough. :)
I'll fill in the details in another post, but I'll just say that this stop took me a little longer than planned and by the time I finished my first game of the day it was 4:00. So, looking at the clock I didn't know if this was going to work as smoothly as it did on paper. I headed out to the next closest location that had Lazer Runner and I walked up to the counter at about 4:30. I was told that they were sold out until 7:00 that night. Hmmm...ok. I asked if I needed a reservation, but was told they don't do that and it was just really busy. Thinking that this was a result of the day I asked if they were doing something special for laser tag day and the woman said "I don't think so. When is it?" I told her it was today and that I might stop back later if possible.
I returned to my car and thought it best to call ahead to my next stop, the skate park that according to the internet had Laser Storm (which I have never played, so I hoped this would work out). As it turns out the phone number that was easiest to find online was no longer in service. After a bit of searching on my phone I found a current number and learned from the person who answered that this facility had closed down last year and re-opened under new management, which is why the info I found was a bit dated. I asked if they still had laser tag. I was told that they do, but that their system is currently down for repairs. Sigh...this day was not shaping up quite the way I had expected.
Now, from where I was geographically at that moment I had two choices. Either continue on for over an hour further to the far end of my state for some Lasertron or head back the way I came and know that I could spend the evening playing some Zone, Laserforce and feasibly some Lazer Runner at a different facility. I called ahead to Lasertron and was told that the next available game could get into was at 7:00. I made my reservation and continued onward knowing that I probably would not make it to the other locations I had planned, but figuring also that I could play in those centers any day of the week, but it is not every day that I am close enough to the Buffalo area to play something a little different. I drove out and had time to grab some dinner before checking in for an awesome experience.
My experience at Lasertron warrants a post all of it's own, so I won't discuss it in full detail until then. I will say I made the right choice to try something new, but there was no way that I was going to make it back in a sensible time frame to play laser tag anywhere else that night. I bought my games, got my card and asked if they were doing anything special for laser tag day. You can probably guess the pattern...although the girl at the counter did say that knowing about it they might do something special in the future. Maybe if by simply mentioning Laser Tag Day there's an impact on something happening in the future then that is a good thing in and of itself. Anyhow, so I stuck around for two games of Lasertron (which took a full two hours...each session was a solid half an hour in the arena) and I was really impressed with everything about this place and the laser tag experience they offered...although it was completely different from the other forms of laser tag I was accustomed to playing (more on that soon).
Although I left the center shortly after 9:00 that evening I realistically was done for the night. I had played hard and been driving all day long. I was also about 3 1/2 to 4 hours away from home as I got back on the road. So ultimately I spent more of my Laser Tag Day in my car than I actually did playing the game. However, I certainly enjoyed some more unusual games than I would have if I stuck close to home. I think I may plan more road trips like this...maybe allowing more time in my schedule so I can actually play a bit more laser tag. Great day!