(May 8, 2015) The Albright, Thaler and Gordon families are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Plant Maze in 2015, which they opened in 1995 to host parties for their young children during the offseason months when nothing was open in Ocean City to entertain youth.
The 33rd Street one-stop shop features an 18-hole Lost Galaxy miniature golf course, an arcade, state-of-the-art Lasertron and an indoor climbing wall and maze for kids.
“We wanted to make a place where kids and families could come participate in activities together,” owner Rina Thaler said. “Laser tag was new at the time and we thought it would be cool to introduce it in Ocean City.”
The original facility had an outdoor climbing maze, entertaining the children while parents watched on a deck overlooking the play area. Older kids were always having a ball playing laser tag, Thaler said.
In 2000 the owners decided to add an activity where kids of all ages, parents and even grandparents could enjoy together, replacing the outdoor maze with the 18-hole Lost Galaxy Golf course complete with aliens and flying saucers.
“Ocean City appeals to families, and Planet Maze is a family place with the arcade, laser tag, golf and maze,” Owner Jamie Albright said. “Customer service is important, especially since sometimes the challenge is to make people happy during a rainy day at the beach.”
Planet Maze also supports nonprofits and youth initiatives including the Play It Safe program, Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House on 66th Street, programs at the Ocean City recreation department, the Susan G. Komen initiative, Diakonia and programs for autistic children.
The facility has expanded, upgraded and improved its offerings every year since opening, including the addition of a private party room built upstairs to accommodate the abundance of children’s parties.
“We can make it as sophisticated as possible to a kid’s birthday party for an 8-year-old,” Thaler said. “We are very flexible with our customers and will cater to them with private parties.”
This year Planet Maze upgraded its Lasertron system, adding LED bulbs and new suits. Thaler said the suits are lighter, numbered and flash different colors throughout the 15-minute game.
During the game, participants are divided into two teams, with each watching a two-minute video explaining how to play before entering the air lock chamber. Players receive 100 shots and 10 lives before they must return to a charging station.
Music plays while participants walk through a 3,000 square-foot room full of fog, laser beams and decoys while shooting opposing team members and their targets to achieve the most points. At the conclusion an in-depth scorecard with game statistics is printed out as memorabilia.
During the off-season Planet Maze opens on weekdays for private parties. Thaler said every themed party imaginable has taken place at the facility, including bachelorette parties, summer camps, after-proms, church groups, staff parties, family reunions, New Year’s Eve parties and team building sessions.
Private parties come with a reserved party room and hostess to serve guests throughout the celebration. Different packages are available for the climbing maze, Lasertron and miniature golf with extras including food and arcade tokens.
“They have the fun, we will do the rest,” Thaler said. “For every age … we can accommodate everyone’s pleasure whether it’s too hot or raining, at nighttime or after dinner.”
The owners emphasized how keeping Planet Maze affordably priced is essential so people can afford to indulge in fun. Attendees pay $7 for an all-day wristband for the climbing maze. One game of Lasertron costs $10.
“It starts with the young kids looking inside the tube at older people playing laser tag and they grow up,” Thaler said. “Kids as little children come back with their kids.”
At a recent anniversary party, Thaler said original employees who started dating when they worked at the facility came back with their own children, representing “a second generation at Planet Maze.”
“It was a great turnout and we were very flattered,” Albright said.
“It was great to see what it means to others, people were lining up to get in,” Thaler added.
If you missed the party, Planet Maze is still giving customers the chance to share memories and pictures from previous years, as well as enter for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of one-year free admission for up to four people, their photo in a future ad or window display, and an iPad courtesy of Comcast Spotlight.
To enter, submit a photo of fun times at Planet Maze. Each submission receives a buy-one, get-one free game coupon.
Planet Maze will choose one photo each month, with the winner receiving a free month of play for one person at Lost Galaxy Golf, laser tag or the climbing maze. Monthly winners will be entered into one final contest to be voted on by the public. Photos can be submitted at planetmaze.com/20th-anniversary-contest.
Customers can also enter the drawing by filling out an entry card at Planet Maze during each visit. One winner will be randomly selected each week and will win one free day of play including laser tag, miniature golf and the climbing wall.
Planet Maze is open every day, year-around and on the weekends during offseason months.
For more information visit planetmaze.com or call 410-524-4386.
Planet Maze owners Rina Thaler and Jamie Albright, from left,
have a ball in the laser tag area earlier this week.
The facility is celebrating its 20th birthday this year.