By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I don’t know whether you realize it or not, but Joplin’s kids were a little happier this past week than they were the week before. Their parents and grandparents are probably happier, too. That’s because Tilt is back and it’s back big.
Here’s the back story. Old Navy acquired the storefront that Tilt occupied at the north end of Northpark Mall. Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts then occupied the Old Navy storefront. Tilt has moved into a space near both of them that once housed a martial arts studio.
Tilt is now called Tilt Studio. It is the next-generation Tilt. The Joplin store, the fourth of its kind in the nation, is twice as large as the original. We are talking about 22,000 square feet of fun and entertainment.
The thing that most kids notice first when they walk through the doors is the giant gorilla with glowing red eyes. This is the entrance to the Jungle Laser Tag. It features the Laser Blast System, which I’m told is a new laser tag system for the area. It is completely interactive. You can play against others or the system. As many as 30 players can compete at one time in a two-level arena.
A neat feature of this system is that parents will be able to watch their children play inside via video monitors that are mounted on the outside of the arena.
Of course, kids might not notice the gorilla and instead might be transfixed by the Himalaya, a mini roller coaster. That’s right. There’s a roller coaster at the mall now.
Then again, it might be the aroma of fresh pizza that kids notice first. Tilt Studio has a food court that also will serve pretzels, breadsticks and chicken bites. Connected to the food court are three party rooms for birthdays and other special occasions. Each room has a big-screen TV that can be used in connection with whatever event is being held in the room.
Tilt Studio has the latest selection of video games that feature dancing, racing, hunting and motorcycles to name a few. It also has some of the classics, including Star Wars. There are the traditional carnival-like games, too.
But wait, there’s more. You can play miniature golf under black lights in the Jungle Safari. Or, you can get in a game of mini bowling on one of four lanes. There’s air hockey, too.
The ticket system has given way to a game card system that tracks how many tickets a player has won. Those tickets are used to redeem prizes. The game card is like a membership card. A parent can put credits on the card for their child to use so they won’t be carrying around cash to play. You also can use the card to purchase food.
The new Tilt Studio will be a boon to mall retailers, especially those on the north end. A shopper can drop his or her child off at Tilt Studio to shop at Sears, T.J. Maxx, Vintage Stock and Old Navy, which are all nearby. Some parents don’t feel comfortable doing that for security reasons, and that’s understandable. It should be noted that Tilt Studio monitors its operation with cameras and that the number of employees has increased from five to 15.
Tilt Studio opened last Thursday. If you go there today, ask about the opening special. Specials also are available via Tilt Studio’s Facebook page.
Ironically, Tilt gets it name from what happens when you become too aggressive with a pinball machine. There are no pinball machines in Tilt Studio. I guess they are now considered antiques. That’s too bad. I was never a wizard at pinball, but I sure enjoyed playing the Elton John version. It was a classic, and it was cheap.
A rose is a rose
The former Paint Stallion/Crazytown Rock ‘N Saloon, 3205 S. Range Line Road, is now the Blue Rose. It’s being managed by Jennifer and Kelly Gresham, of Neosho.
The Greshams have lightened what was a black interior with blue paint and new lighting. The bar has been redone. The odor of cigarette smoke is far less noticeable than before. They are trying to make the place more inviting for couples and singles to have fun. It appears to be working. They had 50 people at their opening Nov. 9 without any advertising.
The Blue Rose has a large dance floor. To capitalize on that, the Greshams hope to have live country music on Friday nights and light rock music on Saturday nights. An open mic night and a karaoke night might be in the cards, too. Line dancing classes might be offered if the demand is there.
The Blue Rose is open from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Sawmill BBQ, 620 S. Main St., could be opening this week. This is not a chain restaurant. It’s a home-grown business that has been put together by a local couple who have had success with competition-style barbecue.
Something tells me this could be the beginning of something exciting in the downtown lineup of restaurants. It just has that feel. Stay tuned.
If you have news about something happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to email@example.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.