Downtown London - News

January 2019

  • Laser Quest offers a quarter-century of downtown fun

    January 9, 2019

    Laser Quest offers a quarter-century of downtown fun


    By Sean Meyer


    Dale Hirlehey recalls fondly the time — nearly a quarter-century ago now — when he’d enjoy heading downtown to play games of laser tag, but he never expected to one day be running the show.


    Laser Quest London opened at 149 Carling St. some 25 years ago (making it just the fifth outlet in North America, although today there are some 48 centres) and Dale was there not too long after the launch.


    Just two months ago, however, Dale took on the role of general manager and the experience has been even better than he expected.


    “I like it; it’s really exciting. They get the music going, the fog, the lasers bouncing around the room; it’s just kind of thrilling and so much fun,” he said. “My first week, we had a staff meeting to get to know me and we played the game together. It brought it all back. I remembered the maze reasonably well, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s just so much fun.


    Although born and raised in the Forest City, Dale had only moved back to London from Calgary last April where he had been working, but also acting and directing, which he’d also done in his hometown before life took him out west.


    He was actually working for Starbucks in Calgary before transferring back to London.


    Then one day he got a call from a headhunter asking it he would be interested in a position with Laser Quest.


    It didn’t take long for him to jump at the idea as he found the Laser Quest experience matches up well with the things he’s personally interested in.


    “There is certainly a performance aspect to Laser Quest; the briefings, the scorecards, the front of house fun, all the stuff we do to create an exciting atmosphere outside of playing a game of laser tag,” Dale said. “The thing is, you can play it from age 5 right up to 95. It’s completely family friendly. Our code of conduct pretty clearly keeps things in order and our martials do a good job of keeping that in play so everyone can come together and have their fun.”


    As for how he describes the laser tag experience itself, well he has a simple definition for that too.


    “I would best call it a combination of tag and hide-and-go-seek with a space-age twist,” he said. “Unlike tag, you aren’t actually tagging someone, instead you’re using a laser, either from a distance or sometimes off of a mirror. There are about 250 mirrors in the maze, so you can tag people around corners. It’s just good fun.”


    Whether it is through its school program, Quest For Knowledge, or it’s team-building offer, Quest For Success, Dale said Laser Quest London truly offers something for everyone. It even offers an escape room experience for those looking to test their puzzle solving skills in a different way.


    While happy to promote the advantages of the game, Dale is also quick to acknowledge the place Laser Quest London holds as a landmark within the downtown.


    “This place has witnessed a lot of changes in the downtown. Twenty-five years ago, takes us back before Covent Garden Market was in its current digs, before what is now the Budweiser Gardens . . . and before a lot of the great restaurants started to pop into the area,” he said. “There is so much great stuff downtown. The downtown is a really cool place to be. Whatever the changes, Laser Quest has stayed throughout all of them.”


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