The FEC evolution

GUEST OPINIONEarl Heller, Rides-4-U

Born from the ashes of the nostalgic localized amusement parks the Family Entertainment Centers (FEC) have begun to emerge on the scene in new ways, and they are exactly as their name implies.


The FEC has been on a long journey, evolving along the way.  The concept began in the form of a video arcade, capitalizing on the popularity of the video game madness of the 1980s. But the stand-alone arcade, popular as it was, proved to be a rather short-lived phenomenon. With more advanced gaming systems being introduced into consumers’ homes, it became clear that if the FEC concept were to survive it needed to adapt.

And adapt it did. The modern day FEC is the result of innovative thinking, expanding it into a true year-round entertainment facility capable of providing something for everyone.

The FEC has not stopped in its ability to adapt and change.  From adding lights and music to a classic bowling alley — creating a different evening experience than is offered in daylight hours — to changing its food court into a true restaurant with an ever-changing menu, the FEC’s quest is to deliver entertainment to its local clientele. FEC operators are experts in their ability to evolve with the times, delivering precisely what their regional guests are looking for.

These compact, year-round centers are uniquely poised to shift quickly to fluctuating times and trends.  Their focus on indoor entertainment and software-driven additions allow them to continually add new and different attractions and provide a state-of-the-art experience, helping to keep guests coming back for more.  

Trampoline parks, ropes courses, VR activities, simulators, and indoor rollercoasters are now a part of the experience at many FEC locations. Some operators have expanded their operations outdoors with thrill rides, zip lines, and full-fledged water parks. Growing in both size and scope, FECs are catering to the needs and demands of their local market.

The popularity and success of the FEC is evident in the crowds that walk through their doors each and every day, a testament to the success and ingenuity of their creators.  It would be an understatement to call their adaptability anything short of remarkable and I have no doubt that the FEC is here to stay. Their continual innovation all but ensures it.

This column appears in the APRIL 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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