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Fun Center Startup - New Amusement Business

We speak with thousands of people each year who are thinking about starting a new amusement business, family fun center, children's entertainment center or arcade business of some kind.

All are either along the path to fun center startup, or just the genesis of a new idea they thought of on the way home from their child's 8th party invitation at the local Chuck E. Cheese. Where ever you are in that process, we applaud you. COVID may have set the development and startup timeline back for some projects, but the fact of the matter - there is growing pent up demand, and the post-COVID amusement opportunity looks bright.

Today and over the next few month as we past through COVID, more than ever, families in communities of all sizes are in need of a safe, secure, fun environment where kids of all ages, adults and groups from every socio-demographic can once again gather and engage their social playful side.

Starting a New Amusement Business

There are many different ways your new amusement business can come togther. However, for us in the industry "family" is typically parents with children 10 years and younger. Once kids move into their tween years and beyond, they start to develop their own cliques, tastes and preferences, which in many activities no longer includes their parents.

Play Cafe and Indoor Party Center.

At the very basic - a low-tech, hi-touch play cafe with a Mommy-N-Me focus of deliverying rich, playfull content for kids aged infant to 2 years old. Next may be a small toddler play center for ages 2 to 5 years that incorporates a small playground with other edutainment activities and programs, food service and party rooms. From there you may be considering a 'typical' indoor party center attraction for ages 4 to 10 years, incorporating a larger indoor play structure, pretend play area, perhaps a dress-up stage, with a few classic or other kinds of arcade games, generally called a Children's Entertainment Center or CEC for short.

Arcade Business

Back the day, this was the place. It had all of the latest cool games, a pool table or two, a foosball table, lots of pinball, and pac-man was all the rage. Because it was primarily a teenage hang-out, for many communities the arcade business became an eye sore and a place of negative impression.

Today this arcade business model, as a stand alone game center is not much seen, and has seen most of it's appeal replaced by technology - specifically game consoles and other in home entertainment or mobile options. We are not saying that arcade rooms are no longer a viable opportunity within the fun center business, just not as a stand alone center as it once was. The arcade business now has to be supported by other primary-draw attractions, food service and other peripheral activities. Even for the big guys, Dave and Busters or Gameworks, it's more about the food and beverage than the actual draw of the arcade games.

New Online Business Course for Startups

  • Feasibility Analysis
  • Business Planning
  • Market Demographics
  • Attraction Selection
  • Location, Location
  • Facility Management
  • FEC Marketing

New Business Course

Get started today and let our experience help put you in the amusement business.

Family Entertainment Center

Moving beyond infants, toddlers and pre-teens, your fun center starts to morph into a full activity mix capable of attracting a wide age group, usually from 5 years and older. Due to this larger demographic appeal, we refer to this model as a Family Entertainment Center, or FEC for short.

While the indoor party center or children's entertainment center provides activities both weekday and weekend, the primary revenue opportunity comes from parties and if available various programs and content, mostly on the weekends.

The FEC model, in it's various iterations and ability to attract the broadest demographics, provides good operators with traffic everyday of the week by virtue of it's attraction mix and broad group services.

Whether appealing to families (as identified by parents with children 10 years and younger), or an older age group, or a combination of all ages, and corporate groups, the community based family fun center or location based FEC is the amusement model that has and will continue to endure.

3 Fun Center Startup Questions to Ask

No matter the amusement business model of interest to you, there are a few first steps in the process that are applicable to every CEC, FEC, Game Room or other leisure business attraction that must be completed.

These initial common steps can all be addressed by answering a few questions:

  • Is there a market opportunity?
  • How big is that opportunity?
  • What role can or should my business play in that opportunity?

These three questions will provide you with the foundation on which to build your project scope and the business planning required to see it come to market reality.

If you are just in the initial days of considering the feasibility of an amusement business, our How to Start a Family Entertainment Center guidebook is a good overview of what it takes to open a fun center business.

download sample arrowHow to Start a Family Entertainment Center

Startup Academy

If you find yourself asking these questions, or wondering what question to ask, you may find our Startup Academy program of interest.

The Startup Academy program is a complete go-at-your-own pace, fun center feasibility and development program that combines our years of experience with our fun center business planning materials, guideboooks, forms and manuals into a packaged course with ongoing coaching, to help you pull together a complete fun center proposal with business plan and project package you can share with potential partners and funders.

Perhaps you have already been working on a project plan/idea - and need some hands on suppot/guidance to start your fun center?

Startup Academy is a step-by-step program to help amusement business developers research, plan and build a family entertainment center, indoor party center, or edutainment center business.

NO NEED FOR TRAVEL - Startup Academy is delivered direct to you, at your conveience via our Fun Center Academy website, and step-by-step materials, video webcasts, on-going telephone consultation and the Academy business course materials.

If you find yourself asking these questions:

  • Where do I start?
  • What information do I need?
  • Where do I find that information?
  • What do I do with it when I find it?
  • How can I know if the project will succed?

The Startup Academy is a great opportunity.

Startup Academy offers these business tools to help you along the way:

  • Market analysis and project feasibility.
  • Comprehensive, industry specific business plan with financial data.
  • FEC coaching that focuses on plan completion and funding presentations.
  • Employee handbooks, operational forms and manuals.
  • Modular video content allows you to go at your own speed.
  • Academy mentoring and coaching to help keep you focused and motivated.
  • Access to Academy library or webcasts and articles.

Not just a solid business plan, Startup Academy is a full amusement business course with ongoing discussions around startup, operations, management, staffing, attraction mix and facility design, marketing and creating great customer experiences.

Combining our 25 plus years in the amusement industry, both as an operator and a manufacturer/supplier, along with our extensive rolodex of industry professionals, successful owners and creative artisans - Startup Academy is the one place that can help you make it happen.

Visit the Fun Center Academy website to learn more...


If you are thinking about starting a new fun center business, here are the top 10 things to consider, in (rough) order of importance:

1. Define your concept.
What would you like to build and operate? Who would you like your customers to be? How many hours a week for the next 2-3 years are you willing to work?
2. Market analysis.
Now that you have some idea of the fun center project you are interested in, it's time to determine if there is a real market opportunity.
3. Demographic study.
What is the local base population? How does it break down within age groups, socio-economic structure and surrounding communities?
4. Location, location, location.
We like to say that there are two major rocks on the road for every developer - location is the first. You need to start analyzing the local commercial building landscape. You will buy and build from the ground up, will you find lease space and work with a landlord? For most "community-centric" fun centers, the most popular choice (for a variety of reasons is to lease).
5. Fun center attraction mix.
Based on your above analysis and your own business goals, what are the planned entertainment offerings and attractions you hope to provide? An appropriate mix of games, rides, attractions and events necessary to maximize your revenue opportunties.
6. Design & build-out
How will your project look and feel? What grade of fixtures and finishings will you have? Will you be the chevy, or the Cadillac?
7. Market startegy.
How will you price your offerings? You will be the low price leader, the premium brand, or somewhere in the middle? What supporting services, events and programs will you offer?
8. Raising capital.
First there was location, now the biggy for most - fun center funding. How will you raise the necessary capital?
9. Ongoing marketing.
How will you market your new amusement attraction? This is a retail, guest experience business. It is a fun business, and marketing your center should be fun and should portray your business as fun... think Richard Branson.
10. Exit strategy.
You are a hit! You've been serving the community with fun, food and good times for 8 years, now what?

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On the web since 1999, the FEC Network is the online amusement business resource for startups, owners, operators and suppliers.

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FEC Network Inc. | 27-45957 Sherwood Drive | Chilliwack, BC., Canada V2R-5Y2 | 604.791.0028