Here’s a first look at Sierra Vista’s massive new laser tag/arcade/ball pit haven

Sierra Vista Mall has a new spot to take your kids for a few hours. Or maybe even a few days – if you want to experience it all, it may spill over to a second visit.

No Surrender Laser Tag opened the doors to its new 34,000-square-foot adventure park on Monday. The sprawling spot – located next to MB2 Raceway in the former Gottschalks building – includes a 17,000-square-foot laser tag arena, virtual reality and traditional arcades, a food court that also serves alcohol and two kids areas filled with things like mazes, slides and ball pits.

According to the No Surrender Facebook page, it will be open noon to 10 p.m. This is a “soft” opening, so the hours may fluctuate as employees train. The staff of six or seven from its much smaller central Fresno location will join over 20 new hires for a team of 30 employees. The official opening date is Sept. 1.

I toured the new facility as it was getting the finishing touches last week. The size and scale struck me right away. It is massive – unlike anything I have seen in the central San Joaquin Valley.

The kids area was the top draw for me. It’s split into two sides: one for children up to 6 years old, and one for kids 6 and up. The little kids’ area has a ball pit, which I haven’t seen in the decade since Baby Boomers decided they were too dangerous for us. The big kids area has a massive maze/slide/trampoline area that reminds me of DZ: Discovery Zone, a major part of Fresno millennials’ childhood that used to inhabit Fashion Fair’s parking lot.

The smaller play area will cost $10 for a three-hour session, while the larger one will set parents back $15 for the same amount of time.

The laser tag arena was pretty impressive. I spent nearly a decade on a traveling laser tag team. I’ve seen probably 50 arenas up and down the West Coast and Midwest. No Surrender’s maze is one of the largest I’ve seen, with several small buildings that provide both a second floor to play on and cover to duck behind on the ground level.

No Surrender’s arena will fit up to 50 people, but there’s a bit of a problem: There’s a massive wall splitting it into two halves with three small openings. Basically, there are two mazes. This is a plus in that you can reserve half of the maze and play a small, private game. But it closes the maze off during the large public games. Anyone who is on one side can’t see, and therefore can’t tag, anyone on the other side.

I didn’t get to play any laser tag, but I’ve played No Surrender before. They run a lot of objective-based mini-games similar to those found in “Call of Duty” video games – disarm the bomb, capture the zone and so on. The team hopes to have 20 such games available at $12 per game.

One majorly awesome feature you hardly see anywhere else is that the arena is fitted with cameras. You can watch the games in progress while you are waiting for your game, which is something I have wanted in a laser tag facility for a decade.

The virtual reality arcade is pretty neat. There are a lot of options: roller-coaster simulators, racing, boxing, shooters. Most games are $5 per person. The racing simulator is $8.

I had problems with broken buttons and machines eating my tokens while playing in the small traditional arcade, but that’s not a huge deal. There’s plenty of other stuff to do.

The food court was not ready when I toured, but I was told it would have a few different options serving standard fair: burgers, pizza and more. There’s also a small bar that serves beer and wine, as well as six private party rooms for birthdays and corporate events.

No Surrender’s ownership team had originally hoped to open the new spot in May. It could fill a major void for recreation, as Boomers! Fresno will close its doors on Labor Day weekend after 20 years near River Park.