For those of you who are new to the family entertainment industry and are learning to navigate the ropes, including an anchor attraction in your FEC master plan is that “iconic” or signature attraction that makes your entertainment center unique or is considered as your major attraction.

Much like a mall has 2 to 3 major department stores to pull in traffic for smaller boutiques or specialty shops, an FEC master plan should include two or more anchor attractions to pull in traffic for those “impulse” rides and games such as bumper cars and arcade.

Although it’s a “family” entertainment center, remember that teens, adults and even corporate customers are just as important when considering what anchor attractions you should include in your FEC master plan. Not to mention, they’re harder to impress.

Because not all rides and games are for all ages, your anchors should be relevant to the demographics you’re attempting to attract. This is why bowling is such a popular anchor attraction. People of all ages and capabilities are proven to love to bowl, and there aren’t many other activities that have such a social aspect to it which can also drive food & beverage revenue. Of course, there are other tried and true anchor attractions which still have broad appeal, such as miniature golf, go-karts, or bumper cars.

Anchor attractions can work for both kids and adults. If your FEC has enough space, consider one for younger kids and one or two for teens and adults, so that there’s a good mix for virtually everyone, no matter their age. Think about attractions such as soft play for younger children and laser tag for older kids and adults. Guests want the opportunity to experience something they just can’t get anywhere else.

Now that you know what anchor attractions are, here are three anchors to consider including in your FEC master plan when working with a design agency.

1. Interactive FEC Anchor Attractions

Besides anchor attractions catering to your demographics, contemplate what kind of attractions will add value to your FEC, increasing the average spend per customer, bring in new customers, or bringing customers back more often.

You should consider proven attractions, such as laser tag, laser mazes, small multi-dimensional theaters like Triotech’s XD Theater, or possibly one of the exciting, new VR attractions. Include your anchor attractions in “value packages”, such as an “Extreme” experience package for birthdays or corporate events. You might also do special “all you can play” events, where like an amusement park, you charge a set amount and customers get unlimited use of attractions and games.

Either way, these interactive and tech-savvy anchors will allow you to maximize your revenue in many ways in your FEC master plan.

2. Bowling as an FEC Anchor Attraction

One of the most popular, time-tested anchor attractions, is bowling. You’ll have to make sure you have enough space to add bowling lanes to your FEC master plan, but from mini-bowling to standard bowling (and some in-between), you can usually find a bowling solution that can work for you. You might just want 2-4 lanes as an extension of your arcade, or like many, bowling is well proven as the one major anchor attraction for many FEC’s. Over 60 million people in the U.S. go bowling at least once a year, which is why bowling can be so successful.

Today’s bowling lanes can be simple and traditional, or exciting and high-tech, with different color bowling lanes, images on lanes, music with special effect lighting, and advanced scoring systems with many new format games and capabilities.

Unlike the interactive adrenaline pumping, wham bam rides, bowling allows your guests to play at their own pace, creates socialization making the time spent at your FEC longer, and increases food and beverage sales, so it’s a win-win all around.

3. Ropes Courses as an FEC Anchor Attraction

Interior or exterior aerial attractions are another appealing anchor options to include in your FEC master plan.

Rope courses create an internal and external challenge and can be adapted to almost every age. In addition, much like interactive rides, ropes courses are meant to stimulate a guests’ brain, create a problem-solving experience, build trust, promote team building, help conquer fear, and create a physical “challenge element” for both kids and adults.

Bottom line is just like your personality is unique to you, your FEC should be just as unique with its attractions. Anchors can draw people in, foster a one-of-a-kind adventure, and generate profits for your FEC.

Consult with your design firm to find out which anchor attractions best fit your FEC master plan. But keep mind, although it’s the attractions that get them in the door, it’s the overall experience and interaction with your team and the environment that keep them coming back for more.