The carousel and tea cup rides are ready to spin, the gocarts are lined up on the track and the space-themed wall in the cosmic bowling alley looms over the partly completed and soon to be black-lighted lanes.
The first-ever Amazing Jake’s Food & Fun, a combo indoor amusement park and all-youcan-eat pizza parlor, is speeding at full throttle toward a July 29 opening in a Mesa shopping center.
Behind the newly painted but otherwise nondescript outer walls of a long-empty warehouse store at the northwest corner of Baseline and Gilbert roads is a virtual beehive of hard-hat activity.
The California-based, privately owned Family Entertainment Centers has four other operations, said Becky Sigmond, Amazing Jake’s director of sales and marketing, but this is its first all-indoor amusement center.
Amazing Jake’s is like a potpourri of the favorite features from Peter Piper Pizza, Jillian’s and Fiddlesticks with a climbing rock wall thrown in. "There is something for every age here," Sigmond said. "It’s very family-friendly."
An entry price of $6.99 for adults, less for children, will buy access to an all-you-can-eat buffet that features a dozen pizza choices, eight pasta options from kid-favorite macaroni and cheese to more sophisticated pesto-sauced pasta, soup and potato bars, build-it-yourself salad bar and dessert, Sigmond said. There will be a real bar where adults can buy wine or beer, but nothing harder, and six themed dining rooms with TVs.
"Our big focus is the food — good quality and good price," Sigmond said.
That may be so for the office types Amazing Jake’s hopes to attract for lunch, but parents who stop in with the family just for a bite to eat may have a difficult time convincing the kids that the food is the main draw.
The laser tag room and climbing rock wall are to the right of the entrance.
And behind the walls backing the expansive food bars, Amazing Jake’s features more than 180 video and arcade games, including several that allow players to compete with each other in virtual cars, motorcycles or jet skis.
The company nixed the high-violence games, Sigmond said, in keeping with Amazing Jake’s familyoriented focus.
About 70 percent of the games spew out tickets that can be redeemed for prizes, she said.
"We will have the largest redemption center in the country," Sigmond said of the 40-foot-long counter and 20-foot-tall wall of shelves workmen are building to house the prizes.
There will be 12 lanes of cosmic bowling, bumper cars and a go-cart track with ribbons and trophies for winners of the heats.
A big chunk of Amazing Jake’s is devoted to Kids City with rides aimed at the 3- to 12-year-old set, and Toddler Town, with "slides and a lot of soft stuff for kids 2 and under to play on and benches for mom," Sigmond said.
Everything except Toddler Town costs money — about $3 for an amusement ride, Sigmond said.
Visitors can get wrist bands, which give them access to free rides, if they are part of a group event, she said. Ten party rooms also will be available for group events, she said.
Amazing Jake’s has hired about 90 percent of the 375 employees it needs, Sigmond said.
Check out their caps. While all will start with black hats, employees can earn different-colored toppers, which come with other perks, including free use of the amusements for family and friends.
Family-focused Mesa was the target market for the first Amazing Jake’s, Sigmond said, and the vacant former HomeBase — a Home Depot-like chain that failed — is the perfect venue.
"The demographics here were the best in the country," she said. The company would like to build another version in the north Valley if the Mesa operation is a hit. The owners are also eyeing Denver.
For the Rustic Hutch, a gift and garden decor store that has been housed at the shopping center for nine years, Amazing Jake’s could be a boon.
The HomeBase, and its later incarnation, House2Home, left the center anchorless nearly four years ago.
"We are looking forward to traffic," said Rustic Hutch owner Sandy Hanft. "There is no anchor to draw people in. It’s a long time coming."