Amusement Business
The International Live Entertainment & Amusement Industry Newsweekly

New Morgan's LBE Spearheads New Trend With Jules Verne- Themed Dining
By Tim O'Brien

STRASBOWRG, France - The creators of Morgan's Entertainment Center in Destin, Fla., say the facility is a "trend-breaker" in the location-based entertainment industry.

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"A great many people want to get into this business, but we have found that most don't want to mess with all the details that come along with creating a themed environment, which we feel is essential to the success of any type of entertainment center," said Peter Alexander, His Alexander Entertainment created and built the center for the Destin-based Howard Group.

Alexander Entertainment is the themed design division of Totally Fun Company, producers of live thrill and entertainment shows for parks. He was a presenter here at the Trends in Leisure Entertainment conference during late June.

Morgan's is a 5O,OOO-square-foot facility located in the Silver Springs Factory Stores Outlet Mall. Three different operations are housed within the facility and all are owned by the Howard Group. The Harbor Docks Seafood and Brewery is a full-service restaurant and the Creehans Market is an upscale food court. Morgan's takes up
30,000 square feet and the food facilities take up the rest.

"Theming was the key element in the successful creation of Morgan's," Alexander told AB. "We based the themes on two Jules Verne stories. The games area has the look and feel of "20,000 Leagues - Under the Sea." and the food court and restaurant area is themed to "Around the World in 80 Days."

Keith Howard, a Destin shopping center developer and owner of the new LBE, sat down with Alexander "with an open book. He said he wanted one [LBE] and thought it should be themed. We took it from there and chose the Jules Verne theme for two reasons.

"First, the ocean theme works because we're near the ocean, second, we'll be getting free advertisements when the new ABC film 'Twenty-Thousand Leagues' airs. Jules Verne will become popular again really soon."

Verne's undersea world was defined in the project through the use of large, freeform, coral formation entry caves into the different areas. The undersea area is where most of the young people's activities are located. Guests look over their heads to see boat bottoms and divers chasing fish. In the game rooms the custom-designed carpeting reflects ocean waves moving in patterns.

"People look around at the underwater fantasy and say, 'I get it.' They understand the intent of the design immediately," Alexander said.

The interior of Captain Nemo's vessel, the Nautilus, is represented through the use of brass fixtures, nautical lighting and reproduced vintage submarine ceilings. That's where most of the adult-oriented games and activities are located, "The extensive use of
bubble-cube columns, aquariums full of live fish and even Captain Nemo's organ [a coin-op sound sampler] all add to the interactive submarine environment."

He explained that the undersea theming of both the game rooms and the retail and redemption centers "flows seamlessly, one into the other, to complete the guest's sensory visit."

The large open lobby area creates an "immediate 'wow' effect," Alexander noted. The 55 foot high ceiling are filled with an immense hot air ballon that steams and sounds as it rises and lowers thoughout the day.

Jay Nettles, Morgan's general manager, told AB the facility has a wide variety of activities for the entire family. "We have 150 games with a total of 178 different player positions. About half of the games are redemptions; the other half is the latest interactive games," he said. "We have all the newest driving games, ski games - that kind of stuff, with most linked together so groups can compete."

In addition there are two - level, 3,000 square foot soft play area, three birthday party rooms and a 10 table billiard room.

Creehan's consists of a French Bakery, New York Deli, Hamburger Grill, Rotisserie, Brick Oven Pizza and a Pasta & Salad shop. "We make all our own bread and pastas on location," Nettles said.

There is a microbrewery, oyster bar, sushi bar and a seafood grill
plus the full-service restaurant.