Flipping out!: East Valley’s newest family fun center, FlipSide, opens doors - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Flipping out!: East Valley’s newest family fun center, FlipSide, opens doors

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Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 7:58 am | Updated: 8:21 am, Thu Feb 7, 2013.

After months of preparation, and with a curious community ready for the doors to unlock, FlipSide — a new multi-dimensional family entertainment center in south Gilbert — recently welcomed crowds of fun-hungry visitors inside a full three weeks before the facility’s official grand opening.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Ryan Owens, who owns FlipSide with partner Nathan Crane. “We try not to be too cheesy.”

Located in a former Basha’s grocery store location at Val Vista Drive and Queen Creek Road,FlipSide incorporates laser tag, a bowling alley, bumper cars, mini-bowling, billiards, an arcade, café and more into one location.

While the games and activities are the centerpiece, the cafe, Crane promised, will be better than your typical bowling alley food. The cafe won’t necessarily be ready by the official Feb. 9 grand opening celebration, but the rest of the facility is already up and running afte a Jan. 18 “silent opening.”

The entertainment center brought in hundreds of guests last weekend, Owens said, and so far — as expected — Friday and Saturday have been the busiest days.

“We have seven or eight birthday packages planned for Saturday,” he said prior to yesterday’s projected rush of customers.

The location is designed for kids of all ages, Owen said, and in keeping with the goal of creating a family-friendly atmosphere, it will not serve alcohol.

They describe the multi-entertainment center as a “28-bowling-lane, five-dozen-arcade-game, car-bumping, billiard-ball-flying, foam-ball-gun-firing, laser-filled maze, restaurant on the edge of an alternate universe portal” on its website.

“We don’t have a hard gate at the front,” Owens said. “Our customers can tailor the experience to what they want,” Owens said.

Customers can purchase passes for individual attractions, incremental passes for arcade games or bowling by the lane or hour, rather than a larger amount for everything, he said.

Before the site opened, it had a heavy presence online, including an active Facebook page and marking the opening with a “count up,” rather than down, each tick noting the days of construction. The website included an email address to keep up on the latest news, and now promotes the latest deals, and Crane said fans who signed up online can expect special deals and promotions as the Feb. 9 opening nears.

“We’ve certainly had lots of community support,” Crane said. “A lot of people have mentioned, ‘We don’t have to waste our gas money on driving.”

Crane and Owens also co-own an aviation maintenance company, which they had hoped to expand, Crane said. However, with the poor economy, they turned to a different business venture.

Neither lives far from FlipSide — Crane in Gilbert and Owens in Queen Creek — and noticed the dearth of family-friendly entertainment in the south East Valley, they said.

Both Crane and Owens are fathers and their kids approve of the new center, they added.

“My son, who is five-year-old, told me, ‘Daddy, I want to live here.’ So I made him a cot in the back,” Owen said laughing.

The business currently has 110 employees, nearing the high of 120 they originally expected to hire, Crane said.

Additional information about FlipSide can be found at www.exploreFlipSide.com or by calling (480)471-8444. The facility is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

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