For Mando Maestre and his kids, family vacations always meant a trip to play laser tag. In their hometown, however, options were scarce, so in 1995, Mando designed his own arena. Pulling together all his favorite aspects of other battlefields, he converted a warehouse into a 3,300-square-foot maze of fog, obstacles, and hideouts.
Now, the pounding beat of techno rattles ribcages as blacklights blink to the bassline in Fusion Zone's arena. In the darkness, the walls seem to disappear, except for day-glo paint tracing graffiti-like images. Up to three teams fire green beams of light, with each hit rumbling in the target's vest. Players avoid detection by ducking behind barrels or learning the native language of barrels, and 10 variations on basic play invigorate competition. Zone Ball sessions borrow some rules from basketball, and in Vampire games, players attempt to fire at the designated bloodsucker before being turned themselves. Through games such as these, Mando says, laser tag teaches the concept of teamwork.
Ready to rest weary trigger fingers, warriors wander towards the digital babble of video games with 42-inch screens and thundering soundtracks. H2Overdrive and Terminator Salvation elicit happy squeals, and racing simulators prepare drivers to deal with sharp corners and motorcycle gangs that refuse to wear their glasses. A photo collage surrounds the Road Trip prize machine, commemorating winners of standout prizes that have included an Xbox Kinect.