The cat is finally out of the bag with the revelation that Wagga’s new state-of-the-art family entertainment venue is just weeks away from opening its doors.
The team behind Vortex Entertainment is putting the finishing touches on the Trail Street centre that boasts high ropes, Ninja Warrior courses, climbing walls, bumper cars, play areas and more.
“The germination of the idea came from a frustration with having to split the kids up across multiple places when we wanted to take them out for an activity,” explained co-owner Adam Drummond.
“We’ve got three years between each of our three kids and we wanted to create something that could work across all ages.”
As Adam and his wife Melinda began researching their idea, they reached out to Andrew McCabe who ran Jumping Beans inflatable hire and the popular Airzone entertainment centre.
“Our idea had been to open something smaller, but when we told Andrew why we were asking him all these questions, he said, ‘why don’t we combine forces and do something on a larger scale?'” Adam explained.
From Andrew’s perspective, it was an idea he’d been kicking around for the better part of a decade, and he wasn’t about to let anyone steal his thunder.
“I just remember my heart sinking and thinking – Adam will do this and I want to be part of it,” he said.
“The timing was perfect because Jess and I were in the car when Adam called and we had the time to talk it all through and it just felt right from the beginning for me.”
With a background in teaching, Andrew brought a philosophical approach to the design of the centre and wanted to create something that would challenge the body and the mind.
“When you talk about healthy lifestyles, you’ve got the physical activity, but then you’ve got the mental stresses of doing something challenging,” he explained.
“Through adversity, you develop strength of character, and in childhood and adolescence, you need the opportunity to safely take on some of those challenges.
“They want adventure and they want a degree of risk, so we provide that in an environment that is actually safe and that’s something that was lacking in Wagga.”
Vortex is divided into sections and as you walk in through the front doors and past the animatronic Transformers, you pass under the high ropes in the ceiling above.
“It’s got nine activities for the kids and you can have 14 harnessed at once,” said Adam, indicating the network of ropes, plank bridges, platforms and obstacles overhead.
“Once you’re up there looking down, it gets you in the pit in your stomach,” he laughed.
“You start out slowly, but eventually, you can start challenging yourself and that’s a big theme for us with that healthy lifestyle and physical activity.”
The multiple climbing walls and Ninja Warrior courses include timers and buzzers that allow kids to race the clock or each other.
“There’s one climbing wall that’s designed specifically for competitions,” Adam said
“It’s clear perspex so you race up either side and you can see your friend racing against you on the other side of the wall!”
The centre also includes an extensive fixed play area for toddlers that Adam reckons is the best around, and there are virtual reality activities, party rooms, a cafe and ‘orbiters’, a cross between bumper cars and laser tag.
“They have little lasers that shoot out at receivers on the other cars and, if you get your friend, they lose control of the orbiter and it spins on its axis for 10 seconds,” Adam said.
The centre has been three years in the making and both Adam and Andrew were full of praise for their landlords at Damasa who have worked closely with them to bring Vortex to fruition.
“We’re looking at opening just after New Year’s. We’ve hired 26 staff and we’ve already started selling gift cards and birthday packages,” Adam said, adding that the location in the old Toys R Us building is perfect.
“I think this will be very much known as the entertainment precinct of Wagga Wagga where you can go to the movies, ten-pin bowl or come in here to Vortex and rock climb!”