Arcade pandemic fun
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
Central City Fun Park is like a throwback to 1970s fun; they have an arcade, bowling alley, mini-golf, and a roller rink.
Things are not that much fun right now. With many activities closed due to COVID and the dreary winter months taking hold of the region, it is hard to find much joy in the Lower Mainland. The nights are the worst, as common mainstays like the movie theatre and night clubs are shut down until further notice. This leaves socially-distanced loners like me struggling to find things to do beyond increasingly dull nights of watching TV and scrolling through Twitter. Something had to be done.
For a while, I had been reading about a place in Surrey called Central City Fun Park. I had wanted to go, and even thought about inviting people from the paper for a fun night. However, meeting during the pandemic is just not possible. I didn’t want to go by myself, but my increasing frustration with being stuck in my house every night broke me. So, on New Year’s Day, I decided to take the plunge and visit Central City Fun Park.
The outside of the fun park is not what you would call flashy. It is located on Scott Road in what looks like a refurbished warehouse. The outside is so non-assuming that, despite there being many cars in the parking lot, I thought for sure it was closed that night. As I entered the building though, I found a livelier affair.
Central City Fun Park is like a throwback to 1970s fun; they have an arcade, bowling alley, mini-golf, and a roller rink. There were many safety protocols in place, including staff cleaning all machines, balls, putters, and skates. Pandemic risky items like food service were non-existent. For $20 I got 50 credits put on a card.
I first decided to give mini-golf a try, which cost 20 credits. This was the most underwhelming part of the experience as the course was only nine holes. Outside of a few alien statues around, the course itself was pretty lame. Where are the windmills? Where are the fun hole names like “Plug the Volcano”? The mini-golf seemed like an afterthought and could have been done better.
I next went to try my hand at the bowling alley, which was also 20 credits. This bowling alley is interesting because it is 10-pin bowling played with 5-pin balls. This is likely because the lanes themselves are not that long—they are probably a little over half the size of a regular alley. I didn’t do too well, getting a sucky 64 as a score. I probably would have done better had I not been on the last lane close to the wall, but like hindsight of 2020, it can be awful.
With only 10 credits left and the roller rink being too expensive, I decided to spend my last few credits at the arcade. This was probably the most fun and the most interesting part. There seemed to be two groups of people at this arcade. One group (children and me) was more interested in having fun with the games, while another group—which I will call “The Ringers”—were in it for the prizes. Around the arcade, there were a few claw games where the only things you could grab were rings. These large cardboard rings had ticket amounts on them like “75 credits” and “25 credits.” I saw some players with stacks of rings next to them. It was obvious that these players were not interested in the fun, but in the win and the glory of gaining fantastic prizes like a Monopoly game board or a Wonder Woman belt buckle.
For myself, I played an altered version of Skee-Ball and a claw game to get a rubber ducky. I also took my chance at the ring claw game, getting a 100-credit ring. In the end, I had 120 credits, which gave me enough to get a funny looking animated pizza plushy, and two Tootsie Rolls.
While visiting the arcade didn’t quell my longing for a visit to the movie theatre that I love so much, it did provide relief from another night at home being sad about the increasingly growing COVID monster descending across town. Also, it got me a cute purple rubber ducky and a smiling pizza plushy to feed the rubber ducky. That should keep me entertained for a few minutes.