Andretti venue gives EV a big new ride

Feb. 28—Racing fans in the Southeast Valley will not have to wait long for a major new entertainment complex to open.

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games opens its first Arizona location on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Chandler.

In addition to four different go-kart racing tracks, the venue has a motion-simulated dark ride, laser tag, arcade, duckpin bowling, and three virtual reality games.

It also has over 10,000 square feet of event space, something that is lacking in the Chandler area.

"I've been hearing that," said Ed Childs, the general manager for the Chandler location at the southwest corner of the Loop 200 Freeway and Cooper Road.

This is the ninth location to be opened by the famous racing family nationwide and another Arizona location is scheduled to open at the end of this year in Glendale.

Childs said his first job as a teen was working at a racing-based entertainment company, Malibu Grand Prix in Tempe. That closed in the mid-1990s.

The Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Chandler has 95,000 square — about four times as large as most Malibu Grand Prix sites had.

"I used to sweep the floors in the arcade, that was my very first job," Childs said. Since then, he has worked at House of Blues and Dave and Busters, though the desire to return to racing was always there.

"There was always something about Andretti, knowing that they were southeast based, I obviously knew about the brand and always wanted to join," Childs said. "As soon as they announced that they were building locations here in the Valley ... I jumped at the chance to be able to join."

In addition to all the entertainment, there are two dining options — a full-service restaurant with a scratch kitchen and a walk-up counter for people who are in a hurry to get back to the games and rides. And a bar enables parents to relax while their children are playing.

Throughout the facility, visitors will see the Andretti family honored. Mario, his sons Michael and Jeff, Michael's son Marco, and Mario's nephew John have all competed in major racing.

Mario Andretti is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship.

The four race tracks feature electric vehicles and the speed is limited based on age and experience. The Mini Mario course is recommended for ages 4 and older. Riders must be at least 36 inches tall and weigh a minimum of 90 pounds.

The slightly longer Junior course is recommended for 7 and older and drivers must be at least 48 inches tall.

The other two tracks are for older drivers and are interchangeable. One has blue paint, the other green. They can be combined into one long super course for special occasions.

The only difference between the two tracks is the speed at which go-karts is capped. Those maximum speeds have not been determined. The tracks were still being fine-tuned during a media tour a week ago, so they had not been tested yet. Childs said they would wait for that testing to determine the maximum speeds allowed.

The Intermediate course is for drivers 12 and older who are at least 54-inches tall. To ride the Adult course, drivers must have a state-issued driver's license or permit — and be at least 54-inches tall.

The dark ride is called 7D Xperience and users must be at least 40-inches tall to ride it. It has 12 motion-simulating seats facing a curved 3D screen. Riders wear 3D glasses and each has a "gun" to shoot with during the 7-to-10 minute adventure.

They have a selection of adventures to choose from, so riders can return often. One adventure is dealing with zombies, for example, and another is set in the Old West.

The venue also has a two-story laser tag course that can accommodate just under 30 players at one time. Usually, players compete in teams but all players must be at least 42 inches tall.

The duckpin bowling lanes each have a giant TV screen above so players can watch a sporting event while they bowl. The lanes have augmented reality, meaning players will see them change during your game.

The three virtual reality games are Hologate VR, Hyperdeck VR and Limitless VR.

This is only the second Andretti location to feature the Limitless VR game, which combines laser tag and virtual reality. It is played on a deck on top of the other two VR games. Players will wear a VR headset, but can see the other contestants overlaid on the VR field. There are barriers to hide behind as players try to avoid being shot while stalking their prey.

The other two VR games can both handle four players at a time. In Hologate, players stand in a location with their headsets on. In Hyperdeck, they man a turret and try to mow down enemies before getting overwhelmed.

The 10,000-square-foot event space can be broken down to as many as six smaller rooms. Childs said they can host corporate events, or social gatherings such as weddings or Quinceañeras. However, outside catering is not allowed and Childs said their kitchen is happy to customize the food to suit clients.

In addition to that space, the Mario Suite is also available for events. That second-story space overlooks both the arcade and the race tracks.

The large arcade uses game cards that users purchase for 750, 1,500 or 3,125 points at a time. Prizes are awarded at Victor Lane. The top prize costs 10,000 tickets.

It is possible to win up to 1,000 tickets in a single game, but only on games requiring a high skill level.

Anyone can walk into the building for free to check it out. Customers pay for each experience as they go.

Joining the membership club costs about $10 per person, or $30 per family of up to five. Members get a discount of a dollar or two on each experience and the memberships are valid for a year after purchase.

The VIP member experience includes one adult or intermediate race, one laser tag, one time each on the Hologate and Hyperdeck VR games, one 7D Xperience showing and 250 arcade points for about $80. That would be about a 22% discount over buying them individually.

The ala carte pricing: Adult or intermediate go-kart race is just under $30. A Junior race is about $24 and Mini Mario is about $14. The VR games and the dark ride are $16.

The laser tag is $15. The arcade game cards range from $10 for 250 points to $100 for 3,125 points. Bowling costs about $33 per hour during off-peak days (Monday-Thursday) and $40 per hour from Friday through Sunday. There is a limit of six people per lane.

The company will be giving an Andretti-logo YETI tumbler to the first 50 guests on its opening day, Wednesday, Feb. 28. The first 100 guests on Saturday, March 2, will get a free hour of arcade game play.

Childs said he planned to hire about 350 employees, but was so impressed with the quality of candidates that they ended up hiring nearly 400. Most of those are part-time employees and young, maybe starting their first job.

"Even though I've kind of gone in and out, I always seem to get attracted back into it," Childs said, recalling working at Malibu Grand Prix. "It's always so much fun creating experiences for guests, that brings so much satisfaction."

If You Go...

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games 1712 S. Cooper Road, Chandler