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Back to the 80’s

This past weekend I took a trip back to the 80’s. And not in the way I do every week when I say “hey, let’s play Photon” during a regular tag night, but rather I visited a very cool (and super nostalgic) family-owned entertainment center called Back to the 80’s in Hazleton, PA where it felt like I was stepping into another era…AND they have laser tag, perhaps the coolest thing to come out of the 80s (thank you George Carter III). And to be fair, this site operates using Lasertron, so thank you Jim Kessler for that!



I arrived to find a group of local Job Corps students waiting for me so we could all head into the first game of the night.



After being met at the front counter by owner Gina and her son Tyler I got a chance to check this place out. Before heading into the laser tag arena we first meandered through the game room…OMG! Approximately 40 mostly vintage video games were available to play, just like in the arcades we used to go to in the mall! I am NOT talking about the crane games or giant piano keys like what you see in many arcades today. I am talking Ms. Pac-Man and old-school Super Mario Brothers! THIS was something I had to try!







Talk about a blast from the past! How do these games operate? Swipe card? Tokens? Nope! I went to a change machine and got some quarters and literally popped 50 cents into the machine. Yep, these were coin operated games, still at 80’s prices, so if you still have the skills you could potentially play all night for 50 cents!


Gina told me they opened the arcade nearly four years ago and added a haunted escape room three years back. However, the laser tag is a newer attraction that they added just over a year ago with Tyler doing much of the arena constructing to fill out the 3100 square foot single-level game space. They can run up to 16 packs, so they are well suited to cater to groups like this (I understand that Job Corps players come out to play regularly) or birthday parties. Time to tag!


My red team was ready to go as we suited up for a team shields up/down game.



However, we were offered several game options including Domination and King of the Hill. I even noticed Battle Royale up on the monitor, which is refreshing because lots of centers don’t take full advantage of the game varieties afforded by their laser tag system, so even though we kept things standard to start, it was nice to have choices presented.


While the green team headed to their base, I took a look around the arena.





There is a lot going on on this space! Definitely more than what you see on the map.



This was such a fun time! I played two games with the group and could tell everyone was having a blast. And the arena was a sharp looking modern oasis tucked away inside the vintage vibe of the rest of the facility.



It was cool to see the young students of Job Corps enjoying this experience. I want to shout them out as I respect what they are doing to build their job skills through this program as well. As they are all aged 16-24, none of them were 80’s kids themselves, so laser tag is probably what held the greatest appeal for this experience, but it was also cool to see their appreciation for everything in the game room that harkens back to a time before they were even around. This place is awesome, whether you are 7 or 70.



Laser tag is what drew me to seek this business out, but the totality of the experience was about taking a break from real life and feeling like you are returning to an era when life was a lot less complicated and a lot more fun…and when this little game called laser tag was just emerging.


In case you missed it on the podcast page, I recently got a nice shout out from another 80’s icon, voice actress and singer Samantha Newark, who really knows how much the 80’s rock!



It’s true, laser tag rocks…and so does Back to the 80’s in Hazleton. At a time when so much laser tag is being relegated to a small piece of the bigger FEC puzzle, it was refreshing to visit a local, family-owned center where tag can still be a focal point and it serves to enhance the rest of what they have built their business around, which is a really special kind of escape from daily life into an era worth remembering fondly. Cue the soundtrack…




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