Come Have Some Family Fun at ShadowLand!
I’ve lived in the DC metro area for over 13 years and never once heard anyone mention ShadowLand. Either I don’t get out much or my kids just aren’t that into laser tag! Recently, though, we tried out the Springfield, VA location.
I called to book my experience as a party for 6 children. I explained to them that I would be bringing two children under 6 years of age and four children over 11. They customized a party package to suit our needs. The package included (1) Create-A-Bear (think Build-A-Bear), (2) laser tag games, (2) laser maze tokens and (30) tokens for the mega arcade per child. They booked my party for Friday at 7pm and they told me to reserve a good 2-4 hours for play.
Getting to the Springfield/Alexandria location was easy. It is a large facility located at 5508 Franconia Road, between Springfield and Alexandria, VA. The building sits on a lot directly behind a gas station. There seems to be ample parking on the private grounds.
It wasn’t a very busy night so I’m sure the weekend sees more action and a lot more cars. The layout looked familiar and I learned from a staff member that the building used to be home to the Franconia Roller Rink. We checked in at the desk (which doubles as a concession stand) and immediately filled out waivers for each of the children.
The manager on duty introduced us to our “party sponsor” who acted as our host and planner throughout our event. She guided us back to our designated party room located near the back of the arcade floor in the “Create-A-Bear” zone.
We made our way down the halls of the vampire lair and entered the gates of Willy Wonka’s Wee Little Wonderland. That description may have been a bit dramatic but you just wait and see. The room featured bright murals and a variety of animals ready to be stuffed with some love, fluff and stuff.
It was here that she went over the agenda and details of our party package. I added a couple pizzas and drinks to the party at the last minute and she was able to call and order enough for our group. Guests are able to either bring in their own food/cake/drinks or order pizza and drinks through ShadowLand when booking the event. There are also options to add on fresh baked pretzels, ice cream cake and/or candy bags.
We embarked on our first adventure in the laser tag room. We headed to the “Briefing Hall” and our party sponsor went over the rules of play and instruction. (Note: If you are planning a party, your guests will be playing against other parties booked at the same time OR playing solo against guests in their own party).
After instructions, she guided us to the next room to get the kids fitted with laser gear and equipment. I didn’t play tag but it was nice that they gave me and the other parents the option of viewing near the front of the arena. Halloween-style costumes had been placed around corners, behind obstacles and under bridges to add to the element of fear and excitement.
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend this activity for children under the age of 6. It is very dark and can be a little too much sensory overload for some. Also keep in mind that if you are not part of a party and bringing your children during public games, kids, teens and adults may be playing against each other. There is a no cursing and horseplay policy which is strictly enforced by the arena monitors but this point is still worth noting. This round of play lasted about 20 minutes.
Our next adventure took us back to our party room where our pizza and drinks were already set up for us to enjoy. After a brief break and food, the kids were able to Create-A-Bear. If it sounds like a knock of the Build-A-Bear concept it’s because it is…but oh how the kids adored it!
I was surprised that the 11-12 year olds were having just as much fun customizing their “friend” as the 5 and 6 year olds. Again, the party sponsor took the lead and instructed the kids to pick out any animal to stuff, clean and dress. This activity lasted about 45 minutes.
From there we went on to play the 2nd round of laser tag. After the final game, we made our way back to the party room where the host gave everyone 30 arcade tokens and 2 gold laser maze tokens.
The arcade area takes up about 1/3 of the entire facility. It features a variety of games such as basketball, dance revolution, skee ball, air hockey, and other games that reward the player with tickets that can be redeemed for prizes at the reward redemption desk.
Depending on the level of sheer determination your child is willing to show, he/she can walk away with prizes such as fake fang teeth, bouncy balls, and other plastic toys that won’t see the light of day after a week.
I know that’s not the point though…for parents, the idea of spending more than $20 to get tokens to win items that cost less than $5 is probably a ridiculous waste of time and money. For kids who are not funding this mega adventure, spending an hour using what seems like unlimited coins, watching the machine spit out ticket after ticket and then turning in 2,430 of those tickets to win a pencil topper and key chain is worth every bit of their effort!
And just when they thought life couldn’t get any better, cue the gold coins. These coins grant guests access to the Laser Maze. The maze is a room where players have to try and cross the entire room without tripping laser beam sensors strategically placed. It’s a 007 type of experience and other players can watch it all happen live on a screen outside of the room.
The smaller kids were smart enough to figure out that if they simply rolled or combat crawled underneath all of the beams, they could cross the room successfully. So much for the older and wiser philosophy! The arcade and laser maze activities can last until your child either gives up trying to beat all of the games, runs out of tokens or ShadowLand closes. For my group of committed kids, it lasted until closing time.
We spent way more of our lives in ShadowLand than I expected, 5 hours to be exact, but it’s a testament to the level of fun to be had here. We experienced almost all that they had to offer except for the Rock Star Studio/Karaoke activity. This package gives you private use of the studio for 2 hours, costumes as propos and the option to add a DVD recording of your performances. This seems like it would be great for a party or team building event.
The staff members were young but knowledgeable about each activity and all instructions. The manager was extremely helpful and I was pleasantly surprised that none of them rushed us out the door when the clock struck 11pm.
Overall, I’d say the kids had a blast at ShadowLand Family Entertainment Center in Springfield, VA. I’d definitely recommend the facility for those seeking a party venue or different type of entertainment for kids age 6 and up.
Prices for parties range $9.95/person with a 9 person minimum for the Mega Arcade package to $19/person for the Rock Star Studio package and $20/person for the Laser Adventure package. A Create-a-Bear package starts at $299 for up to 10 participants. Groups can also rent the facility for over-night lock-ins and other adventure formats. For more information, customized packages and specific pricing visit them at http://www.shadowlandadventures.com/index.php.
Columbia, MD: 410-740-9100
Gaithersburg, MD: 301-330-5546
Chantilly, VA: 703-263-1004
Springfield, VA: 703-921-1004
Frederick, MD: 301-696-5555
|Instructor (party host)||4|
|Appropriate Safety Procedures||5|
|Appropriate Class Size/Ratio||5|
|I would visit again||yes|
|I would recommend to a friend||yes|
All ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.
Meet the Reviewer!
Kendra is a full time mom of two,
wife and meeting planner with a
passion for travel, food, and new
adventures. She was born in Texas,
grew up in Germany, but has called
Virginia home for the last 12 years.
When not laughing, she’s making others
laugh. Her grossly overused and cliche
motto is: Live. Laugh. Love.