Good Clean Fun for All Ages (Adults Included) in Cranberry

Fun Fore All has evolved into a family-entertainment complex that actually boasts enjoyable diversions for kids and adults alike.


photos by sean collier
 

In my teenage years, I used to bum around Cranberry from time to time. At the time, there was a short list of non-mall areas with a few diversions for young folks — cheap food, bookstores, cinemas, what have you. That tally included the township to the North alongside more obvious choices such as Oakland, Squirrel Hill and the South Side.

We’d arrange to get dropped off somewhere around the outdoor mall, and drift up and down Route 19 for a while. It was, perhaps, not the most obvious way to kill some time, but one I remember fondly.

(Clarification for younger readers: The internet wasn’t much of a thing yet, phones weren’t smart and you had to rent movies one at a time. People just wandered around a lot.)

I remember a few of those trips ending up at Fun Fore All, the minigolf-and-more complex about halfway between the Cranberry and Zelienople exits. And while the diversionary needs of a bunch of teenagers were easily met — there was miniature golf and soda, so we were fine — it wasn’t much of a destination at the time, understaffed and a bit run down.

That has changed. To a remarkable degree.

Today, the family-entertainment center has been updated, expanded and polished. The arcade inside is a wonder, the size of the great game dens of the early ’90s (though more focused on ticket-redemption games, as is the trend). There’s enough pinball, including some brand-new offerings, to keep the silver-ball aficionado entertained.

I went, though, to investigate the new XD Dark Ride, a video-game experience that was billed as more intense and elaborate than any in the region. For $7, you’ll head to what looks like a miniature theater behind Fun Fore All’s party room; you’ll be handed a pair of 3-D glasses and be buckled in.

The buckling is quite necessary.

As you unholster the light gun at your side, the experience begins with a short instructional round; on a giant screen just in front of you, you’ll take target practice at rampaging werewolves (the teen and adult game) or robotic cowboys (the more kid-friendly game). Then the main event begins: As you take aim and try to apply the skills gained from all those hours spent on “Duck Hunt” (something else we enjoyed quite a bit back in the day), your seat will rock, sway, jump and buzz with every moment.

It’s loud, frenetic and a bunch of fun. Kennywood has a version of this in the guise of a dark ride, dubbed Ghostwood Estate; honestly, the XD Dark Ride is just as fun.

Yes, there are now easily accessible VR experiences around, and playing video games at home is getting pretty darn immersive. But this thing is still worth the trip. In an era where true arcades are something of a relic, this is a gaming experience that can still get your heart racing.

Outside, the mini-golf course, go-karts and a quality batting cage beckon on sunny days (and some of the outdoor amenities are scheduled for upgrades soon). Unlike some family-focused attractions, Fun Fore All certainly offers more than enough to keep any adult with a sense of play occupied through a date, a group outing or any other journey.

And it took me back to the time when a much younger version of me was wandering Cranberry in search of distraction. Fortunately, there’s enough here that even today’s kids will drop their devices and charge in.

 

Categories: After Dark