Cypress Lanes enthralls orb-launching visitors with rounds of bowling within its 40-lane facility. Imperfect aiming abilities receive a boost by bumper lanes, and all players can chase their perfect-game dreams during open bowl or by joining adult leagues or youth programs. Each Friday and Saturday night partakers can attend 2.5-hour Rockin' Bowl outings to enhance sessions with a thumping sound system, special-effect lights, and prizes such as bowling pins that clatter to the exact bassline of "Stairway to Heaven" when knocked down. Between frames, customers can relax on Cypress Lanes' outdoor smoking deck, peruse the pro shop, or compete in rounds of air hockey or Deal or No Deal in a redemption game room stocked with assortments of new prizes every week. Striker's Sports Cafe reenergizes clientele after each game with delectable bar fare.
For more than 50 years, family-owned Pin Chasers alleys have been adding perks to the bowling basics. Leagues for all skill levels, six-week lesson plans, and the immersive light shows of late-night Cyber bowling entertain families with the fundamentals. It's when the scoring systems—equipped with touchscreen consoles and customizable backgrounds—boot up or the automatic bumpers raise between turns that players might first take notice of their high-tech surroundings. As for service, the inviting staff hand out complimentary bowling shoes and socks, and will assist guests in picking out the right type of ball rather than noisily sandblasting one down to size when it doesn’t fit. The full-service cafes also manage to defy expectations by serving breakfast fare around the clock.
Friendly employees and full bars span each of Pin Chasers' three locations, but other amenities differ. Visitors can aim cues at Veterans' four billiards tables, stretch their thumbs at East Pasco's arcade, or try to count all of Midtown's 50 lanes without first extracting their fingers from their bowling balls.
Someone's little brother shrieks, mournful at being too small to play laser tag with his cousins. Another youngster wants to bowl, but can’t pick up the ball. To Terrace Sports's manager, John McMillan, these are simple problems. A crew member scurries through the laser-tag arena, holding the toy gun for the little boy who would otherwise be too small to play. Another sets up a ramp at the top of a bowling lane, helping the toddler to push the ball into the pins with a satisfying clatter.
Smiling on as his staff solves such crises, McMillan strolls through Terrace Sports, which he remodeled after taking the reins from his father. Leading the way to the laser-tag arena, skating-rink, indoor-climbing wall, bowling alley, and arcade, murals stretch down the entryway, saluting the nearby Hillsborough River with more than 85 depictions of the waterway’s inhabitants, dynamic ecosystem, and naturally occurring steamboats. The entryway leads to the snack bar, where a full menu of gator tail, buffalo burgers, and sweet-potato fries glide down countertops handcrafted from teak and embellished by solid-brass elephant heads.
Entering the laser-tag arena gives one the sensation of delving into the interior of a complex machine, with mechanical parts strung with LED lights lining the walls and generating an eerie glow. Imaginations run wild as players choose to take on roles as monarchy loyalists or rebel forces, with both sides fighting for command of the heart of the machine and firing at one another's bases. The guns, powered by unlimited ammo, unleash streams of crimson and emerald light, and fiber-optic aiming ensures pinpoint accuracy. Vests beep when another player is taking aim, giving warriors a moment to find obstacles to hide behind or nearby portraits of themselves to hide in front of. On an observation deck, cheers rise from friends and chaperones as a 32-inch monitor displays scoring and live footage from six in-arena cameras.
Since 1960, Orange Bowl Lanes has facilitated friendly competition on 12 lanes, which cradle the throws of bowlers during open hours seven days a week and the more gutter-hugging curveballs pitched by league bowlers at night. Open until midnight on Monday and Wednesday, Orange Bowl Lanes keeps its doors ajar until 2 a.m. the rest of the week, providing night owls with something to do instead of counting the rhinestones on Orion’s Belt.
Carter Family Bowl & Pizzeria keeps bowlers' eyes and ears entertained with vibrant music and disco lights while their hands are busy knocking down pin after pin. Automatic scoring keeps track of the action on each of 20 lanes, and bumpers aid younger bowlers as they step up to the lane's home plate to punt for a goal. An onsite pro shop keeps customers in top form by souping up personal equipment with cleaning and drilling services. And at the pizzeria, a full menu of pies, appetizers, and desserts prevents bowlers' growling stomachs from being mistaken for lost, beloved schnauzers.
When Joseph Olear tore down the original Three Point Bowling Center, he preserved what mattered most. ”We recycled the 35-year-old maple lanes and made a bar out of it,” he happily explains. “And also this gorgeous desk in my office.” The former alley was bought out by Joe’s father in ’86—a spontaneous decision that still perplexes the son. He “just bought the place! If you’d have told me we’d have a bowling alley, I’d have thought you were crazy.” That said, it’s a decision that gave Joe the reins to a facility he would totally revamp.
The updated alley features 16 automatic lanes, one of the largest bars in Kansas City, and a large crop of vine-ripened bowling balls. Olear has also solicited the master food stylings of chef Dan Cermeno for juicy burgers, steak-filled sandwiches, and spicy seafood pastas. He explains that Cermeno’s dishes—available at the alley or in Three Pins Diner—are by no means typical alley fare. “He’s a shopping king,” says Olear. ”On his way in, he stops to shop. [Always] fresh fruit and veggies—wherever the freshest stuff is.”
Beyond the lanes, Three Point entertains patrons with six full-size pool tables, dartboards, indoor and outdoor TVs up to 64 inches wide, as well as nightly league events. The revelry also extends outdoors, where an expansive outdoor deck patio hosts a meat smoker capable of feeding parties of up to 500. “There’s a guy comes in at first light and smokes the meat, “says Olear. “Venison, ribs, whatever he has. It’s in there for about 10 hours. It’s unmatched, really.” Wonderful as that is, there’s one thing Joe enjoys more. “Having a drink at the bar,” he says, smiling. “People will say they met their wife here. It happens on a fairly regular basis—someone comes in and says how nice the place is. It really makes your day.”