Blog/ Playcenters

Cost Guide: Grow Your Play Center With These Attraction Ideas

Cost Guide: Grow Your Play Center With These Attraction Ideas

Every play center owner dreams of unveiling an attraction that not only becomes the talk of the town but also transforms the way visitors engage with their space. But to do this, you need to consider which attraction is right for the business, your guests, and your budget.

Join us as we discuss ideas for the different attractions you could open at your play center, including the expected cost of construction and the potential for a solid return on investment (ROI).

Why build a new play center attraction? 

Introducing a new attraction to your play center isn’t just about adding another feature; it's about creating moments and memories that set your venue apart. A fresh, innovative attraction not only rejuvenates your venue, drawing in curious crowds eager for novel experiences, but also reinvigorates your brand, keeping it relevant and talked about in a competitive market. This strategic move can significantly boost visitor numbers at your play center, increase customer satisfaction, and ensure a robust return on investment. 

By continuously evolving and expanding your offerings, you signal to your community that you're committed to providing unparalleled entertainment and value, making your play center a beloved destination for families seeking fun and adventure.

Play center attraction ideas 

Themed soft play areas

Expense: Moderate
ROI potential: High
Imagine little explorers navigating through jungles, underwater kingdoms, magical forests, or outer space without leaving the safety of your play center. Themed soft play areas are incredibly versatile, allowing for creativity and immersion in fantastical worlds. 

The initial investment won’t be the highest on our list, but it might still make you pause, considering the custom designs and safety features required. However, the thematic appeal of a bespoke theme at your play center can significantly increase repeat visits as kids drag their parents back to explore their favorite worlds time and time again. Plus, a strong theme will work wonders for your marketing efforts and give your venue a strong hook to attract potential customers with. 

Case study: Nelis’ Dutch Village is a Dutch-themed attraction where visitors can immerse themselves in a vibrant cultural experience. Guests have the opportunity to dress up in traditional Dutch attire, take memorable photos, and engage in authentic Dutch activities. The venue's dedication to its theme offers an impressive, immersive, and enjoyable experience that entertains visitors and sparks an abundance of user-generated content on social media, as the costumes and activities make for perfect photo opportunities.

Read this next: Playful Prosperity: Nurturing Growth in Your Play Center Business

Interactive digital walls

Expense: High
ROI potential: Very high
The future of attractions is here, and many play centers are incorporating cutting-edge technology into their offerings. Interactive digital walls are a great addition, engaging kids and adults alike with their awe-inspiring combination of physical and digital play.

Given the required technology and software development, the upfront cost of digital walls can be steep. Yet, these digital wonders can become the centerpiece of your attraction, offering unique experiences that can't be found anywhere. The appeal of interactive experiences can drive higher foot traffic and word of mouth, boosting the ROI potential and working wonders for your bottom line.

Case study: The Museum of Play and Art (MoPA) is an attraction in Victoria, Australia, where children can interact with artwork in a hands-on and innovative way. Its features include digital walls displaying artwork, as well as other interactive and exciting exhibits that kids love. MoPA has been recognized as a leader in learning through play and is even regarded by some as one of the world’s greatest children’s museums.

Read this next: How MoPA Drives Advocacy Through Their Guest Experience

Indoor climbing walls

Expense: Moderate to high
ROI potential: High
Reach new heights with an indoor climbing wall that challenges and delights visitors of all ages. Whether you opt for a colorful, child-friendly version or a more advanced setup for teens and adults, climbing walls offer a fantastic blend of fun and fitness. 

The cost varies based on the wall's height and complexity, but the investment can pay off by attracting a wide audience. Climbing walls not only promote physical activity but also can be a highlight feature for birthday parties and group events. Plus, your climbing wall can be a great way to upsell a space within your venue without requiring a drastic overhaul. 

Case study: ClimbZone is a climbing gym franchise that offers visitors an unforgettable experience due to its vibrant climbing walls, which appeal to all ages and tastes. Take note of the design of their walls, which feature attention-grabbing colors, strong themes, and interactive elements. Their family-friendly approach to climbing walls also provides food for thought for play center operators looking to incorporate similar experiences. 

Read this next: ClimbZone reduces payroll costs by $15k per year with ROLLER

Mini zip lines

Expense: Moderate
ROI potential: Moderate to high
Zip through to success with a mini zip line that adds a thrill factor to your play center. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor setups, mini zip lines don't require as much space as their full-sized counterparts but still offer a heart-racing experience. 

The investment needed for a safe and exciting zip line is considerable, but the allure of this attraction can set your center apart from the competition, enticing adventure seekers and boosting your overall appeal. Not to mention the upsell opportunities for an attraction that is relatively quick for guests to engage with. 

Case study: Sky Zone features zip lines in select venues. Using the attraction indoors allows children to experience what is usually an extreme activity within a safe and controlled soft-play environment. Seeing their inclusion in an enterprise with as much reach and influence as Sky Zone shows how the attraction is a potential growth magnet.

Virtual reality (VR) experiences

Expense: High
ROI potential: High to very high
Dive into the digital age with VR experiences that transport visitors to other worlds. From educational adventures through ancient history to exciting roller coaster rides, the possibilities are endless. 

The initial investment in VR technology and content creation is significant, but the draw of these unique, immersive experiences can justify the cost. As VR continues to grow in popularity, offering such experiences can make your play center a cutting-edge destination.

Case study: Zero Latency is a global VR franchise operating in 25 countries. Participants can join forces to battle zombies, crack puzzles, and engage in an array of dynamic experiences, all while equipped with cutting-edge free-roam VR headsets and body packs. This innovative concept attracts a steady stream of visitors to its 92 (and growing) locations worldwide. While their games are for more mature audiences, the way they use the tech offers plenty of inspiration for play center operators. 

Read this next: How Zero Latency Dublin Grew Revenue by 50% with the Support of ROLLER’s Online Booking System

Sensory rooms

Expense: Low to moderate
ROI potential: Moderate
Create a calm oasis amid the chaos of your play center with a sensory room designed to soothe and engage children with sensory processing needs. 

These rooms, filled with lights, textures, and interactive elements, require a smaller upfront investment compared to more high-tech attractions. They serve as an inclusive addition that can attract families looking for safe, engaging spaces for children who might be overwhelmed by more intense activities. 

While the ROI may not be as dramatic as other options, the community goodwill and niche appeal can enhance your play center's reputation and visitor base.

Case study: We Rock the Spectrum is a global franchise operating in eight countries. It offers sensory gyms that provide accessible spaces for children and their carers. The company's offerings include birthday parties, classes, and plenty of play. All of its equipment is designed for children with different sensory requirements, showing that there is a strong market for this kind of attraction. 

Water play areas

Expense: High
ROI potential: High
Make a splash with a water play area that brings the excitement of a water park indoors. From splash pads to small slides, water attractions are a hit, especially in regions with long or scorching summers. 

The installation costs are on the higher end, especially considering the need for water recycling systems and safety measures. However, the allure of water play can significantly increase visitation during peak times, making it a potentially lucrative investment.

Case study: Paqua Park on Lake Pleasant in Arizona is a seasonal venue that boasts inflatable obstacle courses for guests to enjoy. Their high turnover and plans to expand are proof that a scaled-down version of this concept could work for play center operators looking to diversify. 

Read this next: Five-Minute Training and Two-Minute Party Check-Ins: Paqua Park Saves Time with ROLLER

Finding your play center's next big hit

Choosing the next showstopping attraction for your play center is a thrilling yet challenging time. It requires a careful balance between the wow factor, cost, and potential return on investment. Before you start shopping for attractions, consider your target audience, space limitations, and current trends in entertainment and technology. You can also engage with your community and ask for feedback to understand their desires and expectations. 

Ultimately, the goal is to create memorable, engaging experiences that keep families coming back to your play center for more. Remember, the best attractions combine fun, safety, and a touch of magic. Whether you decide to explore ancient ruins in a themed play area, scale new heights on a climbing wall, or embark on digital adventures with VR, your play center’s next attraction could be the key to unlocking new streams of business growth. 

Learn how ROLLER can transform your play center's profitability and visitor experience.