Austin’s completes major indoor expansion; debuts indoor rides

FEC transitions into entertainment complex

AT: Tim Baldwin

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — Built in 2003, the facility known as Austin’s Park n’ Pizza is changing. Not only is the indoor portion of the family entertainment center growing significantly, so is the audience.

“It’s now evolving. With the expansion, we are now more than just a family entertainment center. It’s more of an entertainment complex for all ages,” said Michael Goss, president and owner. “We’re rebranding now as just Austin’s instead of Austin’s Park n’ Pizza.”

Prior to the new additions, the FEC offered an impressive range of activities. Two miniature golf courses, three go-kart tracks, carnival rides, batting cages and bumper boats were in the outdoor offerings. An XD Theater, bowling alley, laser tag and a wide lineup of arcade/skill games, along with billiards provided year-round climate-controlled indoor fun. The food facilities were impressive with modern, attractive facilities with an executive chef creating hand-crafted dishes — it’s more than just pizza. Austin’s Bar & Grill satisfies even the most discriminating palates.

This spring, a 35,000-square-foot addition brings new opportunities. Located adjacent to the bowling alley, a previous field now offers a lot more for visitors.

Inside, two new rides are the facility’s first ones placed indoors. Provided by Rides 4 U, the coaster is much larger than the Fiesta Express children’s coaster located outside. It stands 20 feet tall and has a track length just shy of 400 feet.

“This coaster is more elevated,” said Len Soled, owner, Rides 4 U. “It has more of a drop. The height elevation adds thrill; it’s a whole new dynamic to the spinning car. It comes pretty close to the roof.”

When asked about the ride selection, Goss told Amusement Today: “I’ve been buying rides from Len for years. It was a no-brainer through our relationship through the years. We looked at other coasters and towers, but Len just offers a quality product.”

Austin’s has the third of this model of coaster in the country. The ride is manufacturered by Visa.

The name of the coaster is Barreling Rapids and sports a woodsy theme.

“We didn’t go with the standard mold. With the theming, we used an existing mold that looks like a wooden barrel. It looks like you cut a tree down,” Soled said. “It’s not a standard look. It’s a little bit unique.”

“It’s a great ride. The figure-8 structure on it I think gives you a better spin,” Goss said.

Soled noted that in the future, if the park wishes to modify the train with a rollover car, that’s an option Austin’s has.

Adjacent to the coaster is a Drop ‘N’ Twist drop tower, by SBF. It stands 30 feet tall and seats eight.

Originally, laser tag was upstairs and occupied about 2,500 square feet of space. Relocated into the new expansion, the laser tag experience now boasts 4,200 square feet in the new building. Art Attack and Delta Strike were partners in the installation.

Almost 100 games supplied by Betson will find homes in a new large game room. This more than doubles the facility’s previous offerings now surpassing 150 game options.

One of the more transformative spaces is Revl Social Club. Featuring its own entrance, the adults-only (21 and over) 10,000-square-foot space has five rooms: billiards, darts, a TV-screen-filled bar, ping pong and curling. The restaurant adds 250 seats of food service. The large bar adds another 40 seats around its perimeter.

“Billiards and darts are kind of classic. We’ve just taken them to the next level with the themed rooms,” Goss said. “We were looking for other social activities. We looked at axe throwing, but there is a lot of that going on. We wanted something different. A couple stand-alone bars were doing ping pong here and in Europe, so we liked that aspect; once again it’s classic.”

Perhaps the club’s most eyebrow-raising (in Texas!) decision was the addition of curling. Its creative streak is significant. 

“Curling is one of those things like when you are sitting around designing something on napkins,” smiled Goss. “We wanted something else, a social activity, and we got to talking about the Olympics. Someone said, ‘Do you ever watch curling?’ We got a good response and we installed three curling lanes. People up north are seeing a little bit more of it with a company called Street Curling. It’s just one of those things that make you laugh, and if it makes you laugh you just go with it.”

Like billiards and darts and other activities, ping pong and curling are revenue streams from renting by the hour. 

The expansion in its entirety has taken about a year. The shocking onset of a global pandemic shifted plans last spring.

“We had just poured the 35,000-square-foot concrete pad and driven pilings going 20 feet into the ground. We got shut down,” Goss told AT. “Construction work continued another week. Things got worse and we hit pause. The construction company was understanding; they were great to work with. We made the decision to start again right after Labor Day. Walls and roof were up in November.”

The winter months were spent moving in equipment and finishing the look.

Permits and such dictate the final details, Austin’s was expected to open the expansion by the first week in April.

This article appears in the  APRIL 2021 issue of Amusement Today.
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