President of the International Candlepin Bowling Association, Ralph Semb presides over French King Bowling Center, which has been in his family for 53 years. The Center’s 16 lanes feature candlestick bowling, a 10-pin variation that utilizes taller, lankier pins and smaller balls that have not yet sprouted finger holes. The food court serves up burgers, pizza, and soda to bolster bowlers, and a video arcade provides an alternative to ball hurling. Neon bowling on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays lets guests experience what it would be like to bowl inside a lava lamp. Birthday parties for up to 10 guests include one hour of bowling followed by an hour-long party with pizza, french fries, soda, and ice cream. Each guest also gets quarters to feed hungry arcade games and toy dispensers.
The rumble of bowling balls hurtling toward pins echoes throughout Uncle Sam Lanes, culminating every few seconds in pin-toppling crashes and enthusiastic high-fives. The bowling center’s polished lanes reflect the glint of pearlized balls as players lace up nonslip shoes and rack up a litany of spares and strikes.
Between frames, wander over to the well-equipped pro shop, where specialists Clay and Sonny measure feet and fingers for shoes, gloves, and custom-weight balls. The duo stocks a wide selection of preowned gear, and they frequently rejuvenate the alley’s ball-beaten equipment with oil-removing and resurfacing machines. Fizzy libations line the tables in the nearby bar and lounge, where fingers warm up for games by hurling darts, poking the screen of an Internet jukebox, or jabbing at eight balls during games of pool.
At each bowling center, balls hurtle down smooth, polished lanes as LCD screens keep track of scores and shimmering party lights illuminate the faces of determined bowlers. After lacing up some slide-enabling shoes and clearing the gutters of deciduous pins, bowlers set their sights on toppling 10-pin clusters. Carpets bedecked with psychedelic swirls lead to shelves stocked with neon-colored balls, which proffer their pin-busting talents to bowlers of various sizes. Fingers can warm up by mashing buttons in an arcade full of entrancing video games or bench-pressing french fries at the onsite grill and pub.
Fun Time Lanes sends patrons back in time for candlestick bowling sessions that predate traditional tenpin rounds. After fitting feet into rental shoes, participants launch 3- to 6-pound balls down one of 20 polished lanes toward huddled masses of slim pins. Automatic scoring, ball returns, and cash prizes to pins that fall the fastest keep frames moving swiftly along. Glow bowl sessions awash vintage orbs and lanes in radiant neon hues every Saturday night during atomic bowl. During breaks, customers can stop fantasizing about marinating a duckpin and instead recharge at Fun Time Lanes' snack bar with bites of burgers, hot dogs, or chicken tenders.
Tippy Bowl, named The Saratogian's "Best of Bowling" in 2009, boasts brightly colored walls, 14 classic lanes, a fully-stocked snack bar, and opportunities for families and friends to come together to strap on a pair of fashionable shoes. Up to four bowling bipeds can enjoy two hours of ball heaving, pizza munching, soda slurping, and repeated attempts to trick stoic bowling pins into smiling and losing their jobs. After unplugging thumbs, head over to Tippy Bowl's newly renovated snack bar for a treat, or unwind in the lounge, replete with Direct TV sports channels and freedom from taunting 7–10 splits.
When it comes to fun at Bowlmor Lanes, folks aren't locked into just bowling, though there's plenty of that. Glow-in-the-dark lanes and banquette seating beckon players to try their hand at bowling or chill out and order drinks and snacks from lane-side servers. But for the pin-weary, there are other forms of entertainment including billiards, air hockey, and ping pong for purchase. These myriad amenities make Bowlmor Lanes a destination for group get-togethers such as birthdays and "No-Kevins-Allowed" club meetings.