Welcome to arcade paradise: A trip to Funset Boulevard

Katie Kasper

Movies: probably the most common answer to “what should we do?” Whether new or old, comedy or thriller, at home or in the theater, movies can entertain for hours on end – Hobbit marathon, anyone?

But even this favorite Lawrentian pastime gets old after watching Gollum “unexpectedly” sneak up behind Sam for the bazillionth time – and for once you just wish Frodo would fight back and an epic battle of Harfoot vs. Stoor Hobbit would ensue, preferably in slow motion.

So if you’re tired of the old movie routine, here’s a place to make your film life a little more vivacious: Funset Boulevard.

The name pretty much says it all: Funset Boulevard is like a sunset, beautiful and life-changing, but more “fun” – nudge nudge, word-play at its finest – and so much classier than Funset Street.

Most Lawrence students have been just steps away from entering this arcade paradise and they didn’t even know it, because Funset is located inside Marcus’ Hollywood Cinema. That’s right moviegoers, you can have your movie and eat your delicious candy prizes too.

After deciding to write this “tips from a townie” on my favorite theater counterpart, I realized it had been a while – a least a month! – since I’d dance-dance-revolution-ed in public, and I knew some recon work would be required if I wanted to do Funset justice.

So Tuesday night, I dragged two of my friends, Andy King ’11 – LUCC’s current president, and Billy Bunzel ’11 – currently unimportant to Lawrence’s democratic regime, to Hollywood Cinema under the guise of procrastination.

To demonstrate how easy getting to Funset is, I will admit that Bunzel, from somewhere-else Wisconsin, and King, your average “Chicagoland” resident, knew where we were going better than their townie driver.

Once there, however, it was obvious we were in my territory, as King coyly asked if we had to pay to get in. I responded, “of course not,” and confidently strutted past the ticket booths with my escorts in my wake.

Funset is located in the back of Hollywood Cinema, past the ticket booths and the snack stand. Walk down a small flight of stairs and you’re there, with a carousel to your left and bumper cars to your right.

Pass the air hockey tables to get to the core of any arcade, the prize counter. Funset’s prize counter is oval shaped, with prizes – worth anywhere between five tickets and thousands of tickets – displayed in a glass showcase and hanging from the walls.

If you’re a flirt like Bunzel, you might get more Smarties for your buck. Sadly, my charm was ineffective – this could be because I was trying to pass as a 13-year-old in hopes that the employees would let me into the “let’s shrink the kids playground.” Imagine a McDonald’s playground on steroids with a train you can ride around it – now do you understand my jealousy of Benjamin Button?

After loading up on $5 worth of tokens each, King, Bunzel and I hit the arcade games. We started with a game called “Ice-Ball” in which you roll a ball into rings of different point values. King nearly broke the cage above the rings with the sheer force of his throw, yet he racked up the highest score. I took a more timid approach and wound up with half the tickets. Funset lesson number one: Arcade games are not your friend.

We then tested a large variety of games. King preferred the gambling ones like “Speed Demon,” which was suspiciously reminiscent of a roulette table. I watched a light go around and around the “Cyclone” bubble and tried to press the button when it hit the jackpot, while Bunzel punched ducks in a game called “Wacky Ducks.”

Bunzel and I then combined our gunman skills to defeat zombies in “The House of the Dead 2.” After saving Bunzel’s life multiple times – you have to shoot them in the head! – I lost 4 tokens to – “Toy Story” throwback – “The Claw!”

Finally, we used our remaining tokens on the “Cyclone” game mentioned above, because our thorough research had determined that it gives the most tickets per token.

Giddy and token-less, King, Bunzel and I weighed our combined tickets at the prize counter for a total of 400. With that and our good looks, we acquired three googly-eyes, two bouncy balls, two candy-bracelets, an Airhead and a whole lot of Smarties.

To closely paraphrase the words of my friends, “Oh wise and gracious Katie, this was the most fun we’ve had since the invention of razor scooters. Please! Have some more Smarties.”

Like I stated earlier, Funset Boulevard is an arcade paradise, and that’s just the beginning of what it has to offer. While the playground is off limits for those past puberty, there is laser tag, mini-golf, bumper cars, a carousel, batting cages and a grill for all ages to enjoy.

So if you’re feeling old and grumbly and want to spice up your normal movie routine, give your inner child a chance to run free at Funset Boulevard before the start of a feature film.