By Jessica Eden
Summer is here and you know what that means — the kids are home for the summer and parents are frantically looking for things to keep them busy. A new virtual reality arcade in Fort Thomas may be the answer you’re looking for…and you’ll probably have fun too!
Magic Realms Virtual Reality is now open! Located at 90 Alexandria Pike in the Fort Thomas Plaza right next to Barre3 Fort Thomas, the shop just celebrated a “Friends and Family Night” over Memorial Day Weekend and it is now officially open to the public.
So, where did the idea come from? Co-owner Mike Reichert says he’s always been open to creative business ideas. “I’ve always been interested in different business ideas and these types of businesses exist all over but there isn’t one here,” said Reichert. “This is a perfect location with a big enough space, close to Cincinnati, close to NKU.” This unique business idea will be the first of its kind in the Greater Cincinnati area and was the brainchild of Reichert, Michael Fennell of Fort Thomas and Joe Ferraro of Highland Heights. Fennel and Ferraro are also co-owners of Magic Realms.
Another safe bet for this business — Virtual Reality is currently a thriving industry. “Gaming is a huge industry. It’s bigger than movies, books and music combined. It’s something you can do at home with the right equipment but it’s expensive for someone to be at home. It’s the same idea of the arcades in the 1980s.”
This dazzling, new arcade space will have some of the most cutting edge technology in the virtual reality industry. “Most of the bays will be "standard", which means the players get access to an 8' x 8' gaming bay, gaming PC, HTC Vive headset and controllers. Some of the bays will be premium bays which add the KatWalk Mini Omnidirectional treadmill which allows the player to actually run, walk, jump, and crouch using their whole body rather than pushing a button on a controller to move forward in the game. At any given time we will have a library of around 50 games to choose from and those titles will change each week based on popularity.”
The space also features a snack bar, seating area and soon they will start construction on a party room that can reserved for birthday parties and/or corporate events. Did we mention the AMAZING “Ready Player One” mural on the wall? Reichert’s daughter, Haley Reichert, is a Freshman at Highlands and she painted the mural.
So what kind of games are available? There are around 50 different options! “There will be all kinds of games for all kinds of players and skill levels. Everything from the popular shoot-em-up titles to art creation games to space shuttle simulators. There is something for everyone, whether you are a serious gamer, looking for a date night, planning a corporate team building event or just having some fun with the whole family,” said Reichert.
The price to play is similar to movie theater prices. A ‘matinee’ time in the afternoon is cheaper than a prime time slot on a Friday or Saturday night. I’ll be honest— my husband Chris and I both had the chance to get a sneak peek and play a couple games on Friday and, in my humble opinion, it’s a LOT more fun than a movie. “Prices to play vary dramatically depending on the time of day and the day of the week with packages during weekday afternoons as low as $0.25 per minute but Weekend night walk-in rates as high as $1 per minute,” said Reichert. “It's always a good idea to book on our website in advance to ensure your spot is available and it is also cheaper to book in advance.” The time frames available for purchase for VR play come in 30 minute, 60 minute and 90 minute intervals.
Although there are no age requirements, there is a waiver that is required for players and the equipment is fitted for a certain height. “There is no age limit to play, however, players under 18 must have their parent or guardian complete our waiver prior to playing which can also be done online. Players under 4 ft or over 7 ft tall may have a less than perfect experience,” said Reichert.
Remember, a virtual reality experience is still a physical activity so safety is still very important. A waiver is required for all players and lighting effects are used in the space. “Due to the nature of VR, anyone who may be sensitive to flashing lights should avoid visiting Magic Realms. Even if not intending to play, we will be using lasers, fog, and other lighting effects at this attraction,” said Reichert.
Magic Realms VR is open from 12 p.m. - 10 p.m. daily. To learn more and book your virtual reality experience, please visit their website or visit their Facebook page.