One of our own local attractions has just earned the greatest honor the amusement industry has to offer. Big Thrill Factory, which opened in 2013 and has locations in Minnetonka, Oakdale, and Shakopee, has been deemed Top Family Entertainment Center in North America by The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) at their Brass Ring Awards last year. During a ceremony that honors juggernauts like Disney World, Six Flags, and Dollywood, our own hometown heroes took the stage to receive a giant feather in their cap.“It’s a hard award to win,” explained Darrel Blomberg, general manager of Big Thrill Factory. “You’ve not only got to be nominated, which requires an exhaustive explanation of your business model and sales, but you’ve also got to pass 28 different criteria and impress the mystery shoppers IAAPA sends in as well. Fortunately they saw for themselves just how great a thing we’ve got going here.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“In the era of video games which fiber-optically connect everyone in the world, an attraction like Big Thrill Factory has done a few things to stand out,” Darrel continued. “First, we’ve got attractions that can’t fit in people’s houses. Climbing walls, trampolines, arcade cabinets the size of a car — these are all things people can’t experience at home. Second, we cater to every taste. We have entertainment that everyone can enjoy, from little kids to seasoned CEOs. Finally, we provide a social experience. People come to Big Thrill Factory to have fun as friends and family, together. That’s a feeling you’ll never get sitting in front of a screen, talking into a headset.”

Big Thrill Factory is Xanadu for fun-seekers. When Darrel says they’ve got everything, he means it — those mystery shoppers would certainly have called him out on it if they didn’t. With indoor and outdoor attractions, they’re a great place for an outing any time of the year. (If you’re planning an outdoor family or company outing, Big Thrill Factory uniquely accommodates with indoor entertainment in case the weather goes south.)

“Axe throwing is our latest draw, something people don’t generally get to try at home,” said Darrel. “Teammates take turns in our Big Axes Hurling Haul throwing hatchets at big wooden targets. It’s competitive, but also a great team-building exercise for companies because nearly no one has ever done it before. It’s accessible, common ground for everyone. No matter how well you do it, axe throwing is a lot of fun.”

“Our laser tag is another one of our big standouts,” Darrel continued. “First of all, rather than having your typical Tron-like aesthetics, our arena is designed by industry-leading set designers to look like it came right out of an action movie. The arena is interactive as well, with sensors you can shoot to trigger fog, sirens, and other effects that might distract your opponents long enough to sneak a few shots in on them. Our laser tag has become especially popular with corporate outings — who wouldn’t want to shoot their boss with a laser?”

Another of Big Thrill Factory’s newer attractions is their Wipeout Trampoline. This eight section trampoline has a big, padded bar spinning around its center. Fun-goers jump around in a circle, timing their bounces to avoid getting painlessly (if not a little embarrassingly) knocked out of the air. The last one standing gets bragging rights.

Big Thrill Factory has every other imaginable kind of amusement. With bowling, climbing walls, miniature golf, go-karting, bumper cars, rope course, full arcade, labyrinthine “Kid’s Fun Factory,” and much more, Big Thrill Factory has earned its distinction as the one-stop entertainment venue. Fun without food is hardly fun at all, though, but they’ve covered that all-important base with the expertise of a world-class chef. Burgers, hot dogs, wings, cheese curds, and other festive foods reign here, although nothing’s as good as the Mega, a 28”, ten pound pizza which can be shared with friends or brought home to live off of for months. Beer and wine makes an important appearance, too.

Big Thrill Factory is sure to please whatever your group’s interests or ages might be, so visit today to plan your next big excursion. It beats the heck out of video games.


By David Scheller