Bryony Andrews, editor of Park World’s sister publication GlobalAmusementsandPlay.com, speaks to Matt Langer about the Oregon-based, Oregon-themed family entertainment centre that’s providing families with a historically-faithful location in which to to gather and have fun.
Ten years in the making, Langer’s is the realisation of the Langer family’s vision to give back to the town and community that they’ve lived in since 1879. Their goal is to create Oregon’s premier family destination, and today, Langer’s is dedicated to celebrating the pioneer spirit of Oregon’s earliest settlers – a theme that’s reflected throughout the facility in its construction and design.
The entire Langer’s FEC facility is designed to commemorate and share the history of the timber industry, the Langer family, Sherwood and Oregon. The Langers have taken inspiration from a wide variety of historically significant landmarks and
events that shaped Oregon – for example, blacksmithing, logging, Smith Rock, Mt. Hood, Black Butte, and more.
The Langer family has been in Sherwood for approaching 150 years, and every detail of the entertainment centre reflects this – from the individual climbing routes on Smith Rock to the bar counters, which are carved from a giant redwood sequoia tree planted by Clarence Langer Jr. in 1974, that was hit by lightening in the summer of 2018.
Q&A – Matt Langer
How big is Langer’s and what attractions does it offer its guests?
Phase I is 54,000sq ft, and Phase II will be another 40,000 sq ft of indoor electric karts, ziplines, ninja course and party rooms, plus 40,000 sq ft of rooftop mini-golf and outdoor rooftop dining.
What have proved your stand-out/visitor favourite attractions so far? What different
activities do you provide for different age ranges?
The arcade is our biggest revenue source, but guests seem blown away by the ropes course which goes to 56ft high. Additionally, our Timber Town little tots play area by iPlay Co is a big hit.
Who is the target visitor demographic for Langer’s, and how do you ensure that your
marketing/advertising mix reaches them?
We are intentionally designed to cover ages 1+, but our key target is families with parents ages 25-35. We use high-tech digital marketing resources that target those audiences.
What are the current trends in visitor entertainment and how are they changing FEC culture?
In our opinion today’s guest is looking for a full-family diverse entertainment experience that offers something for everyone in the family including physical activities that keep the guest moving. Some families come and turn the kids loose on laser tag, ropes course, arcade or bowling for hours while mum and dad sit upstairs in the adult lounge enjoying their favourite cocktails sharing stories with friends while watching their kids enjoy the attraction of their choosing. A favourite is to watch kids on the ropes course go to 56ft and ring the bell from cozy couches in the adult lounge by the fire.
Attraction technology and trends like interactivity and immersivity are only growing in popularity – what is it about these sorts of attractions that allows them to continue to stand out?
Physical activities like 56ft high ropes course, 46ft high rock climbing wall, Timber Town, Laser Tag or Virtual Reality all offer more senses and action you can provide the higher then entertainment value, as it provides more to the guest experience. Single layer entertainment is not nearly as tangible or rewarding as multi-facet entertainment that requires both mental and physical participation.
Can you tell me about your recent project with Creative Works to create a themed laser tag attraction?
I met the owner of Creative Works Armondo over ten years ago and started learning the details of the laser tag world. Early on we determined that a themed attraction was necessary to stay up with modern guest expectations in our market. Picking the theme of a north-west log mill was easy, since our entire facility is themed similar in the historic timber industry of our area. One challenge was to go either metal or wood framed for the upper level. It took a couple months of effort to get confirmation from our local municipality that wood framing would be permitted. This took several hours on the phone with many involved including our architect who coordinated with the City for the permit. Guests seem to be very surprised and excited about the level of detail, theming and complex layout of the arena. We spent several weeks going back-n-forth with Creative Works on the arena layout to make it as complicated as possible, so guests feel completely immersed in the experience.
Are there measures in place to ensure that visitors with disabilities or access
issues still have a great experience at Langers?
Legally we are required per ADA to provide access to all attractions. Yes, we have access available to all attractions including an elevator to the upstairs and ropes course platform. The laser tag arena of course has ramps rather than stairs which is simply an industry standard for laser tag.
What would you say is Langers ‘ethos’, or its key aim for its visitor experience?
An immersive step back in time that brings outdoor activities under one roof to be enjoyed all year long. Whether it’s snowing or 100 degrees outside guests can enjoy the warmth of a campfire, or find adventure in the rafters to ring a bell at 56ft high.
The mural of Mt. Hood on the east wall and the 46ft high rock climbing rendering of Smith Rock bring the outdoors to guests so all ages can enjoy.
Do you have plans for any seasonal special events, for example using Halloween or Christmas to help bring in additional footfall and revenue throughout the year?
We are planning 2020 now and it will started with a big New Years Eve bowling event and will roll right through Super Bowl, summer outdoor live bands on the front porch and right into Breakfast with Santa Claus next December. We have a large,
professional events staff who work daily to design a full calendar of events.
What can the industry expect from Langers for 2020 and beyond?
Phase II should be under construction some time in 2021 including a 40,000 sq f electric kart track, ninja warrior course, ziplines over the race track, party rooms, track-side dining, rooftop mini-golf and rooftop dining. We have a lot in store for Phase II and design is well underway. We anticipate this phase opening sometime in 2022, and then we’ll be working on the adjacent hotel, spa, fitness and aquatics centre. We are already in the visioning process and are getting the details lined up for an early 2021 design. The entire process should take about another 3-5 years and when complete will encompass about 175,000 sq ft.