IBJNews

LOU'S VIEWS: A fun Xscape to Lafayette Square

Lou Harry
January 26, 2009
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry
Ever since Xscape took over a sizable chunk of Lafayette Square Mall late last year, I've heard speculation about what goes on behind its walls. Most of that guesswork came from people jumping to conclusions based on the decline of its shopping center surroundings, combined with nightmare experiences at the likes of Chuck E. Cheese. Of course, went the conventional wisdom, this place has to be unsafe, dirty and overrun by unruly teens. What else could it be?

Well, in the interest of fairness—and with the understanding that there are legions of parents desperate for a way to get the family out of the house on a winter weekend afternoon—I decided to lean on the entertainment side of "arts and entertainment."

In short, I decided to escape to Xscape.

A first impression of the place depends on which way you enter. Come in from the Lafayette Square Mall east parking lot and you'll see a movie-theater-like entry with a touch of "what's behind those doors" excitement. Come in through the mall entrance and it looks like a big game room with bumper cars.

Either way, the first surprise might be how many families there are and how few roving gangs. Ask yourself: Would the Sharks and the Jets hang out at Doc's if it cost $8.49 a head to get in?

Yes, there's a cover charge. Just getting in the door will cost you $8.49 per adult, with $6.99 for seniors and $4.99 for kids 2-12. It's not a bad price, considering the fee includes the buffet, dessert and beverages. And the food is surprisingly acceptable—I've eaten a lot worse for the price. Pizza was a notch better than CiCi's, with decent enough attempts at pies beyond pepperoni and sausage. Pastas and sauces, tacos, burritos, chicken pot pie (kind of like the version you'd make using a recipe on the side of a Bisquick box). Plus a salad bar. And an unlimited beverage station, which significantly cuts back on the number of whining kids and wallet-challenged parents.

The dessert bar, which the staff obviously has a greater challenge keeping clean, includes cookies, a variety of pies, pudding, fruit, and an ice cream sundae bar. If you are so inclined—and not carb-counting—you could take the kids for lunch, entertain them on the rides and with the games, catch a movie (more on that later) and then have dinner.

The cover charge doesn't include most of the attractions and games, of course, so you'll need to put money on an Xscape card. More than just a pre-paid charge card, it's actually part of a cutting-edge system that not only keeps track of how much money you have left, but also how many points you've acquired from the games. I was baffled by it at first, wondering how my card could keep track of my points while it's in my pocket. But it works.

The side effect: You won't see kids approaching the redemption counter with piles of tickets and cups of tokens. Instead, your account is credited with whatever points you win.

Either way, of course, you end up with junk prizes, but you already knew that.

Xscape has plenty of the same kind of games you'd find at Jillian's—including a pair of addictive Deal or No Deal stations. There's also a short row of duckpin bowling alleys ($3 a game, make sure you don't accidentally make it a "Turkey Shoot" game if you really want to just play the traditional nine frames), as well as the aforementioned Bumper Cars ($3—the downside being a smallish playing field, the upside being the freedom to have head-on collisions) and a Laser Tag arena ($5—somewhat disappointing because, despite the warnings about strobes and smoke, none were present in the actual battleground when we played).

Additional rides include spinning Teacups ($3), a strap-yourself-in five-minute 4D Theatre ($5- - the 4th D being wind effects and shaking seats), and Go Karts ($5—featuring the longest lines and a basic oval track). The nine-hole Ghoulie Golf ($3) features a horror theme and a reasonably simple course of curves and obstacles. Nobody complained when we played through twice to make it an 18-hole game.

In all, Xscape offers a fairly positive experience. And the $22 I put on my card (abetted by a $5 bonus offered at that level) lasted for a good three hours, which included a meal and some time for my son in the no-extra-charge Pirates of the Caribbean bounce house and back-yard-basic Pirates Adventure jungle gym.

My biggest beef—and it's a big one—is the handling of the Drive-In Theatre, a dining room/movie theater where families can find a table and park themselves to watch a feature film. All well and good, except that, on the Sunday afternoon of our visit, the film was "The Dark Knight."

Now, I fully believe that it's up to parents and guardians to decide when their kids are ready for certain films. But the wide-open, no signage front offered kids of all ages the opportunity to see the exposed muscle and bone of Two Face and the Joker's knife-blade-in-the-mobster's-mouth maneuver.

If Xscape wants to present itself as family-friendly, more care should be taken on film selections. And if Xscape wants to continue showing violent PG-13 movies, it should do it so that guests aren't exposed unless they choose to be exposed.

If you're not eating in the theater, there are plenty of alternatives. There's a Disney feel to the bright Toonville dining room—"Cars" was on the big screen on our visit. There's also a sports bar with plenty of monitors to watch a game-and a limited but, for some no doubt, very welcome bar (prices range from $3 drafts to $5 margaritas).

Of course, my experience with Xscape isn't as important as a child's. So I asked my 7-year-old to write up his assessment. Here's what he had to say:

"Xscape is a wonderful place you can eat pizza and pasta and you can drink your favorite drinks. There are tons of arcade games and you can watch movies. On one game you can get 400 tickets. There's this card you get that transfers the tickets that you get from the game. You should try playing laser tag. I wish I was 16."

For the record, I told him he had to be 16 to ride the Go Karts. At 36-inch tall, he could have driven with me, but I didn't want to drop $10 on the ride. Also, FYI, he cashed in his points for six rubber balls and a package of Fun Dip. And he wants to go back ASAP.

Oh, and one other thing: Would it kill the powers that be at Xscape to include a pinball machine or two?
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT