Big Adventure: Community ideas for community pleasure

Big Adventure was last open in 2014. Submitted photo.

BETHEL — To say that Paul and Charisa Legault have a lot on their plate would be an understatement. On top of balancing a catering business, wedding barn, and other smaller ventures, the couple is now reviving the Big Adventure Center, which has been vacant for nearly seven years.

The big amusement complex immediately off Route 2 was not even for sale when Paul and Charisa first had initial conversations with the owners, but following more discussions the two soon found themselves in the process of buying it. Now why would two people, already with a heavy workload, take on a project that no doubt will be time consuming? Paul and Charisa kept their answers short and simple.

“I see it as sort of a legacy to leave to the town,” Charisa said.

Paul added that for both him and Charisa, it’s also “all about doing it for the kids.”

The project’s first phase will be sure to excite children, with the focus for this summer being miniature golf and ice cream. Paul said this will likely be the only two options at the center for this year, but see’s it as a good start and also added that he and Charisa cannot take on too much at once.

“We want to do small, incremental phases,” Paul said. “We want to put together something that makes sense. If we tried to start up laser tag, the climbing arena, it would not work for us.”

Phase 1 of the project started back in January when Paul and Charisa began cleaning up the mini golf course, which accumulated a lot of brush over the years. They chipped away at the work that needed to be done over the past few months, which included many repairs and a lot of brush removal, with Paul estimating around a total of 30 loads being hauled away.

Now with the course cleaned of debris, power washing the mini golf greens was the next task, which they started earlier this week. The first two greens had been washed as of Monday evening and the finished product showed a vast improvement.

Bill Dunton, who designed and built the course years ago, told Legault he thought the greens would clean up fairly easy – and he was right. Legault praised Dunton’s design of the course and said that while the course will not have a particular theme, he thinks Dunton’s overall design creates a fun challenge for mini-golfers.

Another part of phase 1, is ice cream. The Legault’s are leasing space in one of the buildings to a person who will be responsible for operating the ice cream shop.

“He can make the shop as successful as he wants,” Paul said. “I am going to bring him clientele.”

For both Paul and Charisa, it’s about getting people involved in the project who have visions about what Big Adventure could turn into down the line. The couple is very open to entertaining ideas and even sent out a market survey to 600 people asking what they’d like to see for activities/attractions at Big Adventure.

The most popular answers were mini golf and ice cream, with go-karting not far behind. Two of three will be there when the place does a soft opening, which will hopefully happen sometime in June.

Paul explained that his and Charisa’s business model is a bit outside the norm of most.

“We want to bring opportunities to local entrepreneur’s and local people who have visions.”

He referred to the laser tag space and water slides as possible opportunities for people to get involved, but added that they are both rather large investments. The slides are currently for sale on Craigslist and Paul said if there is no interest by the fall, he might “start doing something with them.”

As for the 15,000 square foot laser tag space, Paul was not sure how likely it would be to get the place back up to par so laser tag could occur. This, however, leaves the door open for other ideas. Some that have been floated around are doing indoor mini golf, virtual golf, axe throwing and batting cages.

For this year, though, both Paul and Charisa just want phase 1 of the project to be successful. However, it’s never too early to get excited for what’s next.

“Once we get into phase 2 and 3, the world is our oyster,” Paul said.




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