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Playing Laser Storm at Skateland

After hearing that there was a place to play Laser Storm in western New York I knew I wanted to visit and this weekend turned out to be the perfect opportunity to stop over to Skateland Family Fun Center in Franklinville, NY.

When I arrived I pulled in to the parking lot of a pretty large complex that is home to a roller skating rink, go karts, batting cages and teen dance club among other activities. It’s a family owned business and Ed greeted me at the door to show me around.

This place has a long history in the Franklinville community. They’ve been operating the business for over three decades and added Laser Storm somewhat on a lark back in 1999. Ed told me he really didn’t know what laser tag was at the time, but attended an auction where the equipment was being offered after another site closed down so he took a chance and purchased the system. With the help and expertise of Gord Armstrong to get it all set up this was what started them out with the addition of a laser tag attraction.

This original 3.1 system is what he continues to run to this day in an arena that Ed designed himself. In fact, his is the last remaining permanent arena to continue to use this version of Laser Storm. It’s really nice to see a one of a kind maze design and this one looks like you are walking into an ice cave full of stalagmites.

Before heading in for the first game Ed showed me to the vesting room, which also included an original touch with the way he has his packs displayed on shadow figure stands.

Then it was time to get in to play some tag!

Here’s a video taken inside the arena.

I did my best to remember the tips that Matt and Logan gave me the last time I had a chance to play Storm, including pointing my index finger along the side of the disruptor phaser.

I’m sure you can tell from the video that the system still feels new to me (this is only the fourth Storm site I have ever played), but I find that I enjoy it more every opportunity I get to play. You also may have noticed that in the middle of the arena is a fixed position metal barrier. This is what gives the site it’s Storm-specific divided arena, which really makes this game play differently than every other form of laser tag (well, that and the headset/phaser design combo).

If you check out the map you can see how the red and green sides are separated.

There are two energizers on each side.

Those were expected. However, what was unexpected was that there are no bases at this arena, however there are target pods that can shoot back at you!

It speaks well for the system that the original version of this equipment is still working more than 20 years later and Ed is very quick to give credit to Gord for the quality of service that has kept him loyal to Laser Storm, a company that has gone through significant transition since the nineties. That’s always good to hear from a business operator.

There is a lot for people to enjoy here, but for me the most interesting part is always seeing the way people respond to laser tag and I could tell the groups that came through that day were having as much fun as I was! This is not a site where competition is the focus, but clearly geared more towards parties and community. And they are proud of what their employees have gone on to do in the community, case in point this photo display of Kimberly Pressler who was Miss USA 1999 and also a former employee of Skateland.

This caught my attention because of my background in pageantry, but also because it is a reminder of community ties. Very nice to see! I had a great time and was very glad that I made the trip…even more so when Ed was kind enough to facilitate another stop for me while I was in the area. Many thanks for a great visit to Skateland Family Fun Center!

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