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Taylorville set to open

Workers slid giant arcade cabinets into place, and young men wearing plastic armor fired red lasers at each other. Only two days before the grand opening of his new family entertainment center, Dr. Bruce Taylor walked through the buzzing work site and talked about the business’s future, with more than a hint of excitement in his voice.

“We want it to be a safe, family friendly environment,” Taylor said. “It’s really a community project based on what seemed to be heavy demand.”

Taylorville Family Entertainment Center, located on Highway 80 west, opens to the public Thursday morning. The center features a laser tag room, walls splattered with glow-in-the-dark paint, dozens of arcade machines, a 9-hole indoor miniature golf course with blacklights, four party rooms, a kitchen, three picnic pavilions videogame consoles and free wireless internet access. The building is 18,200 square feet of pure, high-tech fun.

Taylor envisioned the center and began planning during the summer of 2007. The project broke ground in October 2008. Crews from Bird & Kamback Arhitects LLC in Huntsville have worked feverishly ever since. At this point, Taylor said the facility just needs a little polishing up before the crowds rush inside.

“A lot of stuff now is just fine-tuning and placement,” Taylor said.

Most of this fine-tuning took place in the laser tag room. Taylor said this activity is the centerpiece of the massive entertainment center. Up to 30 people, divided into two teams of 15 each, can play 15-minute games of laser tag in the 3,000 square foot room, which is equipped with flashing lights and a smoke machine.

School and church groups can even participate in Taylorville’s “Laser Tag 101” program. Taylor said he expects this unique experience to become a big hit.

“They’ll play a game of laser tag, and one of our marshals or techs will open up the gun and go through the science of producing the laser beam,” Taylor said.

Taylorville employees have distributed thousands of 4-by-6 postcards to schools in Dallas, Montgomery, Autauga, Marengo, Chilton, Bibb, Perry, Wilcox and Lowndes counties.

Taylor said he wants the entire Black Belt to enjoy the center. Local students said they could hardly wait for Taylorville to open.

“They’re going to have laser tag,” said Amarious Eaton, a fourth-grade student at Meadowview Elementary School.

Eaton, seemingly a professional at the game, explained a little strategy.

“If you get hit with a red light, you’re out,” he said.

His classmate, Ja’marika Thomas, said she would head straight for the videogame consoles when she entered the doors.

“I like to play Wii games,” she said. “They got Mario on it.”

Taylor expects the mini-golf course to become a very popular attraction, too. Unlike many entertainment centers,

Taylorville can offer the activity all year long since the course is located indoors. Plus, Taylor said it crosses generational gaps.

“Putt-putt golf, that’s something for everybody, young and old,” he said.

Besides offering a safe source of entertainment, Taylor said the business would also have a significant economic impact.

Currently, 50 people are on payroll at Taylorville. That number could increase this summer, Taylor said.

“This business could potentially lower the employment rate in the county by half a percentage point,” Taylor said officials have told him.

Tourism director Candace Johnson said the entertainment center would benefit tourists, as well as Dallas County residents.

“I get calls all the time from people coming into town and wanting to know what their children can do,” Johnson said. “Just overall bringing a business to town is great.”