Many people were excited when the idea of a laser tag facility was proposed for the former Pope’s Hobby Land on Third Avenue in Wausau. Then the for sale signs returned on the building, and today C + B Super Market occupies the location.
But the laser tag facility has resurfaced, this time at the Cedar Creek mall, and its owners are banking on the mall’s refocus as an entertainment center to build the business.
Phantom Laser Tag opened May 21 in the space between the movie theater and Planet Fitness. The 6,000-square-foot facility is filled with barrels, rooms with windows and other obstacles to hide behind and shoot your friends with lasers.
Owners Corey Huotari and Jeff Hutchinson have been working on the project for several years, recently aimed at the Pope’s Hobby Land building. They ultimately chose to open in Cedar Creek because the space itself works better and because Phantom Laser Tag seemed a natural fit with the area’s other amenities. With the nearby Grand Lodge water park, the movie theater, the fitness center and expo center, the Cedar Creek mall and the area is moving away from being a shopping center and becoming something closer to an entertainment district.
Participants first watch a video explaining the rules of laser tag—no physical contact or sprinting is allowed, for example—then they go with their team to gather either black or camouflage gear. The laser guns look almost like assault rifles (and have a real heft to them) equipped with LCD displays. The vests light up and make noise when a person is hit. After four hits, you’re out.
While some people might associate laser tag with the 1980s, and think of Tron-like equipment and guns. Black light laser tag still looks like those 1980s trippy, neon colored scenarios people often associate with the sport. That’s designed mainly for kids.
Phantom Laser Tag offers the type of laser tag that’s more akin to paintball, and often attracts players interested in that sport as well. Phantom’s laser guns are in fact modified paintball guns, Huotari explains.
When asked if laser tag is making a comeback, Huotari says it never really went away, but there wasn’t a laser tag option in Wausau. “I don’t think it’s ever died out, but it’s evolved,” Huotari says. “With the popularity of [shooting-military] type of games, this is right up that alley. It should satisfy the urge for those gamers.”
Though you might not recognize their names, many of you probably are familiar with Huotari and Hutchinson’s Halloween attraction, the Dimension of Horror haunted houses. The pair have taken a break from those to get the laser tag business going. But Huotari says to expect something special at the laser tag facility come Halloween.
Phantom Laser Tag now is open Friday through Sunday. Hutchinson says they’re testing Tuesday hours as well. The space also can be reserved for private parties on weeknights. Check out Phantom Laser Tag on Facebook or at dohorrors.com.