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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lazer X In Addison

Place: Lazer X
Location: 1455 West Lake Street, Addison, IL (in the same parking lot as Marcus Theater.)
Type of Place: Laser Tag arena.
Secret: I wish I knew!
Appropriate ages: 6 and over.
Cost: $7.00 per person for 20 minutes of play, or $15.95 per person for birthday parties.

Since Little Bear's birthday is in July, Diana decided to have a party for her at the end of May so that she could invite all of the kids in her class. We just moved here at the beginning of the school year, and we hoped the psuedo-birthday party would help us identify some kids that Little Bear could play with over the summer.Little Bear wanted to have a laser tag birthday party. We'd once had a party for Monkeyboy at Lazer X in Addison, so we decided to set up Little Bear's party there.
Unfortunately, it did not go well.
The party package included a party room for two hours, pizza, soda, two sessions of laser tag, and twelve arcade tokens for each kid.
The first thing that went wrong was that the pizza, which was ordered from Papa John's, was late. So for the first twenty minutes the kids just milled around in the party room with nothing happening. I guess the original plan had been for them to eat lunch right away at the beginning of the party, and then play their two games of laser tag back to back. The late delivery of the pizza seemed to throw off the whole system!
Finally the party "host" came in and hurriedly told them to get in line to go to their first game of laser tag. They were rushed into the laser tag room, and then rushed back into the party room twenty minutes later. The pizza was served to them at a frantic pace, and they were urged by the host to eat quickly so they could play their next game of laser tag. They had about five minutes to gobble down their pizza and slurp down their sodas before the cake was presented!
When the cake was opened and put in front of Little Bear, we then had about fifteen minutes to sing Happy Birthday to her and take pictures, cut the cake, pass it out to the kids, and have them chow it down like there was no tomorrow, before the host hurriedly told them to get back in line to get their tokens for the arcade. They were allowed to play for twenty minutes, and then they were told to have their tickets counted in the machine so that they could get their prizes. They were told to hurry, hurry, hurry! The kids were all nervous that they wouldn't get their prizes, and a small riot broke out by the ticket counting machine as the first graders scrambled to have their tickets counted.
To make matters worse, there was nobody at the counter at the time to help the kids get their prizes. The employees were too busy trying to clean up our party room for the next party.
By then, our two hours were almost over, and we still hadn't opened presents! We were told we had five minutes before the next game of laser tag, so if Little Bear wanted to open presents, she had to do it then.
If any of you have little kids (and if you're reading this blog, I assume you do) you know that present-opening time is a big deal at a birthday party. The little guests have helped pick out the present and wrap it, and a bunch of them had even made homemade cards! Little Bear had been coached on present-opening etiquette, being reminded that it was important to read each card, look at each present, thank the giver, and say something nice about the present. And she  did so good, in the beginning! She wanted to open and read each card and look at each present. But because of our five minute time limit, her grandmother had to tell her to just rip open the gifts as quickly as possible. She hadn't even gotten through half of them before the party host was there, telling the kids to hurry up and get in line for their second laser tag game.
Diana says, she was beginning to feel like everything was too rushed. The focus seemed to be on herding the kids from one activity to another, and not on allowing Little Bear and her family and friends to enjoy the party. Diana had barely had time to talk to Little Bear or her friends, because he'd been being so busy trying to rush things along! Diana went to the front counter to complain to the manager. The manager apologized, but basically shrugged it off, saying that he had twenty parties scheduled for the day and that he needed to keep things moving. He told Diana that he thought most people who had birthday parties there just took their presents home and opened them later. (Because present opening was such a big deal for the first graders, Diana had definitely wanted Little Bear to do it at the party, in front of her guests!)
Diana also complained that she had been charged for Little Bear's older brothers being at the party. Since Little Bear and her friends are only first graders, Diana had thought that Monkeyboy and Marcus, who are 13 and 14, could go into the laser tag game with the kids and help them out. When she made the arrangements, she was told that she would not be charged for Monkeyboy and Marcus to play laser tag with the kids. But when she pointed this out to the manager, he denied it, rather rudely. "Teenagers are our target market! Why would I let them in for free?" he said.
The party came to an end, and since our time in the party room was over, we had to wait in the lobby as parents came to pick up their children. Some of the parents also noticed that the service here was sort of rude. For instance, when one mother complained that the air hockey table had eaten her child's token, the employee hurriedly said, "Thats because it takes two tokens," and walked away without bothering to help.
Here are my feelings on it. This place is trying to make as much money as possible by scheduling as many parties as possible back to back. But they're actually losing money by offering a poor experience. If the party had gone wonderfully, we would have probably come back next year for another party, recommended it to friends and family members who wanted laser tag parties, gone there for open play, etc. If the parents had noticed great service as they picked up their kids, they would have maybe scheduled their own parties there as well. Instead, we will never go to Laser X for any reason again, and we will warn others to avoid it as well. This is a classic case of people caring more about making money than about being friendly and having good service.
If you do decide to host a party at Laser X, I would recommend scheduling it as the last party of the day, so you might have a little extra time in the party room. Scheduling it on a weekday evening would be a good idea. And, instead of buying the more expensive package that includes pizza, just skip the pizza and bring cake. That will buy you a little extra time as well. One idea might be to transport the guests back to your home after the party, and have pizza and open presents there.
But seriously, I don't recommend this place.

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