Giant FEC Opens in Vietnam With 14 Duckpin Lanes

by Bob Johnson 0

Helio Center, considered Vietnam’s largest and most modern family entertainment center, opened to the public on Wednesday.

The 157,000-square-foot indoor and 2.5-acre outdoor FEC is located Da Nang, midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming City (formerly Saigon). It has a metropolitan area of 1 million and is a popular tourist location for Vietnamese and foreigners alike with its beaches, 5-star resorts and less crowded and laid back lifestyle.

Randy White, CEO of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, designers and producers of Helio Center, said work started on the project in July 2012 with market and culture feasibility. It then proceeded to design and construction.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony's at Vietnam's largest family entertainment center.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony's at Vietnam's largest family entertainment center.

Considering the complexity of the building design with its ground floor, mezzanine and a basement garage for 1,000 motorbikes and 53 automobiles, plus sourcing and procurement of entertainment equipment and finishes from all over the world, White said, “The FEC was actually completed in a very timely manner, even by Western standards.”

Man Quang, CEO of Helio Center, said, “It is exciting to be able to bring a totally new entertainment experience to Vietnamese people with this state-of-art, world-class FEC. I am confident it will be a major attraction and bring much joy and happiness to both residents and tourists for many years to come.”

The FEC includes both adult-oriented and family attractions, including:

• 14 lanes of duckpin bowling, including VIP lanes

• Children’s edutainment (play and discovery) center

• Indoor ice skating

• Four indoor rides

• Combination Ballocity and soft modular play structure

• 150 redemption, simulator and video games

• Redemption prize store

• Indoor go-karts

• 19 private karaoke rooms

• Celebration and birthday party rooms

• Multi-purpose, theater-style performance, karaoke and meeting room

• Coffee and bakery café

• Food court featuring five different world cuisines and a bakery

• Children’s discovery play garden

• Multi-level seating for the coffee and bakery cafe

• Restaurant village, which will seat more than 600

• Children’s boating school

• Children’s motorbike and automobile driving school

• Bumper boats

At peak times, the FEC will accommodate 4,000 guests. The center employs a staff of 600. Helio Center cost more than $45 million by Western cost equivalents.

The company began its marketing campaign, predominately on Facebook, well before opening. By opening, it already registered 50,000 members who will use a Power Card debit card system to pay for games, attractions, food and beverages, and get discounts and earn points towards VIP status.

Unusual for entertainment projects, White Hutchinson designed the building with a natural daylighting roof monitor system that allows the majority of the center to be totally lit by daylight during the day to save on electrical lighting costs. The project also incorporates a number of special acoustic treatments to prevent it from being too noisy.

A unique feature of the basement garage is the security system it has to prevent the theft of motorbikes. There is a small charge to park a motorbike (10 cents US). When a motorbike enters the garage, its stops at the security check-in, pays and a computer-camera system records both the driver’s face and the license plate. Then when leaving, the driver drives through a security checkpoint that verifies the original driver is on the motorbike by matching the license to the original photo of their face.

Equipment suppliers for Helio Center included:

• US Bowling Corporation

• Amusement Products

• WhiteWater Attractions

• J&J Amusements

• Xtraice

• Wisdom Rides

• Zamperla

• Sela

• Alpha Omega Sales

• SB International

• Micros

• Kidzibits

• Embed

The White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group provides feasibility work, design and production of adult, family and children-oriented, location-based leisure and entertainment projects. Over the past 26 years, the company has been retained by more than 500 clients in 32 countries, and has won 16 different first-place design awards, including in Bowlers Journal International’s Architecture & Design Awards competition.  Visit www.whitehutchinson.com for more information.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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