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Off the Wall - November 2016

ClimbZone Takes a Novel Approach to FEC Staple

by Mike Bederka

While a family entertainment center (FEC) staple for years, the rock wall hasn’t remarkably changed its look during that time. The attraction usually appears like, well, a grayish rock-colored wall spiked with some color on the grips.

ClimbZone changes the design standard with a variety of vibrant themed walls. For example at the indoor FEC, climbers can traverse everything from an abandoned house, to a replica of Mt. Rushmore, to a map of the United States, to Tetris pieces, to a pirate ship. Its prototype facility in Laurel, Maryland, has 75 themed climbs.

This nontraditional approach makes ClimbZone more attractive to guests who might not otherwise consider climbing, says Chief Operating Officer Keith Levenson.

“Children and adults alike can be intimidated by a structure that’s dull and stagnant,” he says. “So by taking a climbing structure and adding dynamic and colorful elements, that eliminates the trepidation and allows people of all ages to enjoy a unique experience.”

Developed and launched in New Zealand by owner Nico Buik and operations manager Tiemi Kenrick in 2008, the concept came to the United States in November 2014. Operating off a franchising model, ClimbZone intends to open two new locations in 2016 and four next year.