Recently, I enjoyed quality time with my teen—and reconnected with an old family-favorite indoor amusement park—at Jake’s Unlimited, 1830 E. Baseline Road, Mesa.
Jake’s has been a fixture in Mesa since 2005, but until a couple of years ago it was Amazing Jake’s. In 2017, the amusement center underwent a redesign and reopened with new features and a new look. Jake’s Unlimited, we were happy to see, had grown with us—and now had even more to offer families, kids, teens, and groups.
The 90,000-square-foot space boasts new lighting, flooring, paint, menus and deals, including renovations to existing games and rides and new attractions.
“We made a ton of changes since we opened as we’re always looking for ways to keep adding to our experience,” said Kenna Watters, marketing director.
General admission grants access to the buffet (open until 8 p.m.) for the entire visit—including salad, a variety of pastas and pizzas, soups, desserts, and more, as well as soft drinks—so you can refresh and snack throughout your stay. Visitors choose their length of stay and activities, and Jake’s offers packages accordingly. Packages provide two-hour, three-hour, or all-day visits and offer options including (depending on the package) unlimited rides and attractions, unlimited arcade games, unlimited laser tag, one game each of bowling and mini-bowling, and a fun card for redemption games (the ones that give tickets).
Also new are midway games, which guarantee a prize every time; a virtual reality coaster; an immersive four-player “Halo” video game; and a revamped menu.
Our first stop was the Radius ride, which sends riders zooming in a big airborne circle while each pod can spin as fast as the riders can manage. If you’re looking to take your younger ones for a twirl, Jake’s also has a tea cup ride for your spin-crazy kiddos.
It’s all part of the inclusive approach Jake’s takes to make sure the visit is fun for everyone, Watters said.
“It’s not just for little kids so now we see grandma and grandpa riding the Radius or playing laser tag along with the whole family,”
Other rides beckoned, including the Spin Zone bumper cars, a carousel, and the deceptively little-kid-looking Frog Hopper (a drop is a drop, even if it’s small, and I’ve heard adults yell on the ride). But my son had eyes for the new “Halo” game. Alas, it was packed, so we checked out other games. We faced off across an air hockey table until our arms were sore, then teamed up for a round on “Aliens: Armageddon.” He used the limited fun pass credits for redemptive games carefully, trying a few turns at Monopoly and challenging me to several rounds of giant Connect Four.
After a few other games and just as my son was finishing stomping along to a dance game, we noticed several guests lining up for laser tag, so we joined them and split into two teams—I was heartened that my teen actually wanted us on the same team—before taking off (without running, of course) into the two-story laser tag arena. After a frenzied several minutes we emerged, out of breath and happy, to view our scores. Our team won, but my individual score was second-to-last, owing to a pint-sized member of the opposite team who took to stalking me. My son took first. Everyone, of all ages, had a blast (pun intended).
We relaxed over dinner next, making full use of our buffet access. He chose at least three varieties of pasta and two thick slices of veggie pizza, and I piled a salad high with toppings. We topped off the meal with pull-apart monkey bread and cookies, though ice cream cones are another popular choice.
If you show up after 8 p.m. the buffet is closed, but admission is free. Simply show up, pay for the activities you want (or buy a “Legend Package” for unlimited bowling, rides, games, and laser tag until closing), and grab drinks and food a la carte, ranging from signature cocktails to Jake’s famous “Unicorn Cotton Candy Tacos.”
After gulping down some soft drinks I suggested bowling. (It’s one game at which I can actually still beat my teenager.) It was fun and relaxing, not least of all because of the luxurious setting. The seats for each of the 12 lanes are more like couches, and lighting and giant projection screens make sure even the least coordinated bowlers have a good time. Also available is mini-bowling, which is just like it sounds, with shorter lanes and smaller, holeless balls, and great for any age.
“It’s a fast-paced game that you don’t have to be good at bowling to enjoy,” Watters said.
Humbled by bowling, my son decided to check on the “Halo” game, which was finally available. We claimed two of the seats, “armed” ourselves, and dove into the first mission. Our cards afforded enough continues to play through the entire story, and I’m proud to say I only lagged behind my kid by a few dozen kills … per round. He got his initials on the leaderboard. Naturally.
By the time we’d completed our “mission” it was getting late, but we still had to settle our air hockey score. My arm is still sore, we closed down the place, and we’re still tied. I guess we’ll have to go back.
Jake’s Unlimited is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. Prices range from $11 for buffet only to $45.50 for a “Pro Pass.”