Call of the wild

How Creative Works helped Big Cedar Lodge bring laser tag to the Ozarks

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When wilderness resort Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri’s Ozark mountains wanted to bring laser tag to its family entertainment offering it contacted theming specialist Creative Works to help create an attraction that fitted in with the location’s rural atmosphere. Ronnie Dungan found out more…

Creative Works helped Big Cedar Lodge create a laser tag arena for its 50,000-square-foot family entertainment facility – Fun Mountain.

The arena transports players to Fort Big Cedar, a 2,500-square-foot log fortress buried deep within the Ozark Mountains. Up to 26 players can enter the log fortress to battle in the two storey structure lined with wood-painted panels. Players can also take the battle outside the fortress where they can navigate through lush forest and boulders. Additionally, large scale props of wildlife that can be spotted throughout the resort surround the arena.

In a wilderness resort in the middle of Missouri’s Ozark mountains, laser tag is a bit of a odd fit, but the firm, owned by the Bass Pro sporting goods chain, wanted to bring some variation to its offering.

Marketing director, Jason Robinson explains: “Laser Tag is a fun addition to this attraction because it brings families close together in a very interactive way. While it is different than our other offerings, we believe it was a perfect fit to go along with the big picture concept that is Fun Mountain.

“Every theme with a property associated within our hospitality brand at Big Cedar Lodge is carefully tailored with specific details in mind. We take great pride in everything that goes into Big Cedar Lodge and this project was no exception.”

Robinson says the firm was not worried about deviating from what was clearly an already successful theming package for the resort.

“When this concept was in development, everyone was excited to see the vision that was laid out come to life and take form in Fun Mountain. We were confident this space could be something truly amazing to bring families together to create interactive and fun memories in a place that is unlike any other in the Ozarks.”

Marsha Brentlinger, Creative Works’ creative experience broker, explained the firm got involved with the project.

“Two of the ladies from the location down there came to visit us [in Mooresville] to see what we do and how we do it, and discussed what props made sense and what didn’t,” says Creative Works creative experience broker, Marsha Brentlinger. “We didn’t start off with the theme we wound up with, but that’s how it evolved.”

“Because they are affiliated with Bass Pro Shop they wanted something that was oriented to the products that they sell,” adds Brentlinger. “They gave us a lot of input as to what they wanted in the arena.”

“We had a bit of a challenge when doing a second level,” Brentlinger explains. “The second level had to be strategically placed at the back of the building. It’s the only place we had enough ceiling height. I don’t think they had taken into account a two-level arena until they already designed and started on the building. That was a bit of a challenge, but that worked out and [we] made it work.”

Some family attractions deliberately steer clear of electronic attractions, and some families like to as well, but Robinson didn’t feel that would be an issue with the laser tag investment.

“Fun Mountain has something for everyone. From the kid in the family to the kid in all of us. We wanted to make sure we met people where their entertainment desires were.  If our guests experience something unique and exciting, that is a success for us.”

in fact, the resort is already looking to add more attractions in the form of a ropes course and a go-kart track next year. “We are always trying to improve everything we do at Big Cedar Lodge, Fun Mountain is no exception to that,” adds Robinson.

The resort already serves more than one million guests annually, but Robinson sees potential for those numbers to go up still further

He says: “We get more and more people here every year. Some are return visitors, some are coming to Big Cedar Lodge for the first time. Word is getting out about our little slice of Ozarks paradise and we are excited to welcome and serve those who want to experience that with us!

“We strive to provide something special for every single guest we serve. Every attraction Big Cedar offers is well thought through to ensure we provide great experiences for everyone.”

The Big Cedar Story

In the 1920s business entrepreneur Jude Simmons and Frisco Railroad executive Harry Worman acquired 300 forested acres on the current Big Cedar site

Simmons created a log mansion, reminiscent of the grand wilderness hunting lodges found in the Adirondacks, while Worman constructed a Tudor-style retreat of stone and stucco. Native materials were used throughout both homes, which can still be seen today in Devil’s Pool Restaurant and The Worman House.

The property changed hands for a short time to a logging firm before being purchased in 1947 by Dan Norris, a real estate executive and hotel operator. Norris added a lodge, swimming pool and stable to the properties creating Devil’s Pool Ranch Resort. The White River was dammed to form Table Rock Lake in 1958, setting the stage for Ozarks’ premier wilderness resort, Big Cedar Lodge.

Purchased by Bass Pro Shops’ founder Johnny Morris, in 1987, Big Cedar Lodge is now a grand wilderness resort, reminiscent of turn-of-the century Adirondack hunting lodges, but with modern conveniences. It is spread over 4600 acres in its own wooded hollow in the Ozark Mountains and overlooking 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake.

Attractions including golf, a nature trail, ski school, fitness centre, spa, museum, fishing, boating plus dining and accommodation.

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