Every beach town needs its amusement park, and south Fort Myers finally has one.It's been a long time coming, too. For years, the structure of a roller coaster sat idle alongside Summerlin Road like the skeletal remains of a dinosaur, while the sign proclaimed a family fun park that seemingly would never open.
But that's about to change. On Friday, June 15, Zoomers opens to the public, offering bumper boats, a Tilt-a-Whirl, go-karts, mini golf, children's midway games, a family roller coaster — and much more.
If you go
Zoomers Family Amusement Park
Where: 17455 Summerlin Road, south Fort Myers
Opening weekend: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday, June 15; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, June 16; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 17
Beginning Monday, June 18: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays
Admission: $2.50-$7.50 tickets for attractions/rides; $28.95 unlimited go-karts, golf, rides and video games (Mondays-Thursdays only); $149.99 Florida resident annual pass. Park offers a variety of specials throughout the week. See website for details.
Information: 239-481-9666 or www.zoomersamusementpark.com
Zoomers Family Amusement Park
AND AWAY WE GO!
It's been a decade in the making. Original construction was completed to 90 percent, then stalled by economic factors. Difficulties were compounded by damage from hurricanes Charley and Wilma. After a foreclosure auction, reconstruction began last July and after recent job fairs, in which more than 1,000 applications for employment were received, about 125 staffers were brought on board.
According to General Manager Randi Jong, employees range in age from teenagers to retirees.
"It's such a great mix of personalities," she said. "Everyone is so excited to be here."
Jong has been opening and working in family theme parks for 20 years. When the recruitment call came, she said, "I though it was such an incredible project, I couldn't turn it down."
She and her husband then relocated from the other coast, and she said they made the right choice.
Zoomers offers an indoor entertainment area, as well, featuring mini bowling, arcade games, party rooms and a banquet hall. There's also the requisite concessions stand, selling such amusement-park staples as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos and chicken tenders.
Remember being a kid weighted down by quarters or tokens? That's a thing of the past at Zoomers, where everything runs off a debit card system. Mom or Dad can load up a card for the kids and let them do their thing without worry of coins flying out of pockets on the go-kart track. When the currency is used up, a return trip to the arcade area is all it takes to reload the card. It comes in handy, too, when the skies open up during rainy season. The money never expires, so visitors could go take in some shopping at midday then return for another round of golf or laser tag — or even come back another day.
The coveted arcade ticket is one thing not consigned to the distant past: "We have the newest and hottest video redemption games," Jong said.
And of course, there are the coveted arcade prizes, from plastic trinkets to placate the very young child, to some larger-ticket items. Forget an oversized stuffed teddy bear. We're talking iPad 3.
And maybe Mom has had her eye on a Coach purse. Keep playing. That's a lot of tickets.
But the real prize is fun. And on this 18-acre facility, it's in no short supply. Birthday party packages are available for kids of all ages. The teen VIP birthday package, for instance, offers run of the park and three hours use of an exclusive lounge-style room with beanbag chairs, lava lamps, pizza and soda.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Even your office can get a handle on the excitement. Zoomers offers executive team-building packages, including access to all the attractions, timed go-kart races and laser tag. The bumper boats feature a water cannon, so if you've been silently storing it up for your coworkers, you may want to slyly recommend this team-building challenge at your next meeting.
Also included is the Pit Crew Challenge. In this pressure cooker of an exercise, your organization's members will work as a team to change tires and attend to all the details that a pit crew would, while working on an actual official NASCAR vehicle on premises. Doesn't that sound better than work?
Zoomers offers summer camp opportunities and special packages for Boy and Girl Scouts and other youth organizations. Jong said the park is sensitive to the fact a lot of people are affected by the uncertain economy, and wants to make sure kids are able to let off steam and enjoy the chance to experience the park.
"We created group rates that we think all the different organizations will be able to afford," she said.
As a family amusement park, none of the rides pack huge G forces, and the Tilt-a-Whirl may provide the greatest challenge to your equilibrium. But Zoomers does place an emphasis on providing something for everyone. As an example, there are two go-kart tracks. The racetrack is for all ages, while the slick track provides a challenging ride for licensed drivers only.
You can get in on the fun on opening day on Friday, June 15. For more information, go to www.zoomersamusementpark.com.