What to know about new VR gaming arena at Gator Mike’s in Cape Coral

A publicity photo for the new Virtuix Omni Arena at Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park in Cape Coral.

Jose Maldonado straps on a pair of virtual-reality goggles, and suddenly zombies are everywhere around him. And they all want the same thing — to munch on his soft, warm flesh.

What’s a guy to do? Well, Maldonado does what any other zombie killer does in a video-game world: He grabs a baseball bat and starts clobbering the undead.

Then he picks up a machine gun —and lots of other weapons, too — and mows down the zombie horde in a spray of bullets.

About 10 minutes later, Maldonado has obliterated the zombie threat. He slips off the VR goggles and grins.

 “Whew!” he says, short of breath. “That was intense!”

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Other gamers seem to agree, too. More than 1,000 people have played the Virtuix Omni Arena at Cape Coral’s Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park since the arena opened last month, says owner Chris Scuderi. Many of them are competing for $2,000 in cash prizes in an ongoing tournament.

“It’s been very popular so far,” Scuderi says.

The 374-square-foot arena looks like a miniature building that’s hard to miss when you walk through the arcade door. Players use touch screens to sign in and pay, and then they step onto one of four “motion platforms” — one-person pods with harnesses, VR goggles and “overshoes” that you wear over your regular shoes, letting you run or walk in place on the slick floor of each arena platform.

It’s not like the VR games you play at home, says Maldonado, a Gator Mike’s employee who helps run the new arena. You don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting the furniture or a friend, for example.

Instead, you’re strapped into a harness inside a protective, hoop-like “Omni ring” that holds you in place. So all you have to worry about is zombie killing.

“It really puts you into the game,” Maldonado says. “You can really just get into it. You can start running and swinging like there’s a zombie right in front of you. It’s so much fun.”

The VR arena is the first of its kind for Southwest Florida, Scuderi says. “This is the future,” he says about the VR technology. “Everybody is moving in that direction.”

The approximately $150,000 arena is part of the renovated video-game arcade at Gator Mike’s. All 45 arcade games are completely different from what was there in 2019, Scuderi says. That’s when he bought the former Greenwell’s Bat-A-Ball Family Fun Park.

“The entire arcade has been upgraded,” he says, “and this VR is the crown jewel.”

A publicity photo for the new Virtuix Omni Arena at Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park in Cape Coral.

The arena can handle as many as 20 people per hour, Scuderi says. Up to four people can play at a time as they battle zombies, killer robots and other enemies — all while being immersed in a 360-degree video-game world.

VR arena games at Gator Mike’s

Here are the six games to choose from and their official descriptions:

“Dead Zone Zombies”: Enter the Dead Zone and clear out the zombie horde! Compete for kills, find supplies and work together with your teammates to survive.

“Elite Force”: Join the Elite Force and fight against your friends in this military shooter deathmatch. Eliminate the most enemies to win.

“Paranormal (Enter The Manor)”: Up to four players enter a haunted house together to investigate the supernatural activity. As they make their way through the majestic mansion, it becomes clear that they are not alone.

“Blackbeard (Trails of Skull Island)”: Prove your worth in the trails of Skull Island. Loot treasure, defeat foes and overcome special challenges to become a true pirate legend.

“Core Defense”: Survive waves of robots and defend the Powercores in Core Defense. Team up with other players and go for the high score on the Omniverse leaderboards.

“Hardpoint”: Compete against your friends in this player vs. player game. Score points by occupying the Hardpoint. The team with the most points at the end of the match wins.

For more information, visit gatormikes.com/attractions/virtualreality.

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells is an arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. Email him at crunnells@gannett.com or connect on Facebook (facebook.com/charles.runnells.7), Twitter (@charlesrunnells) and Instagram (@crunnells1).

If you go

What: Omni Virtuix Arena

Where: Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park, 35 N.E. Pine Island Road/State Road 78, Cape Coral.

Cost: $15 for each approximately 10-minute game, or $125 for a 10-pack.

Requirements: Players must be between 4 feet, 2 inches and 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weigh no more than 285 lbs.

Info: 574-4386 or gatormikes.com

Avi Adkins

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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