By Morgan Bryce
When Simon and Elaine Bak founded Opelika family-fun center Cyberzone nearly four years ago, they started with 24 laser-tag packs, 21 arcade games and a dream of creating not only an entertainment destination, but a place where life-long memories would be made.
“Memories are the most powerful thing that humans have. We want our customers to leave and have this place in their minds as a great memory,” Simon said.
The now four-year-old business is thriving. Boasting a new, state-of-the-art laser tag system, arcade games ranging from The Walking Dead to classics like Galaga and PAC-MAN, kid’s play area and a restaurant serving pizza, Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and more, Simon said their success is drawing major attention.
“(Representatives from) Dave and Buster’s and other corporations come to Cyberzone to see what arcades we have and things we’re doing. I think to myself, ‘wow, you guys are a multi-billion-dollar company and you’re coming to Opelika, Alabama to see what we’ve started,’ … I never would have dreamed of this happening in a million years,” Simon said.
The Bak’s entertainment background goes back to when they met during their college years at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where they both worked part time at Walt Disney World.
The couple married in 2001, and four years later, relocated from Orlando to Cookeville, Tenn. for Elaine’s work. It was there that they opened their first laser tag/arcade, Cyber Tag.
Constructed differently from other laser tag arenas, their arena gave players a more immersive experience. Using contemporary dance music and synced lighting and effects, Simon said this risky approach and concept paid off dividends for their business.
“After a few years, we started getting attention from bigger companies, wanting to see how we did things differently. It started a revolution of sorts, and you can’t go to a laser tag arena that doesn’t look like that … which is still neat to see,” Simon said.
A few years later, the Bak family relocated to Opelika so Elaine could pursue a master’s degree in English Literature from Auburn University at Montgomery.
Driving back and forth to manage Cyber Tag grew tiresome, and they sold that business before opening Cyberzone in June 2013.
At first, Cyberzone only occupied 50 percent of their building located at 107 N. 9th St., but now, nearly all the building is being used.
Elaine attributes their success to both she and Simon’s daily presence at the business, and relying heavily on their loyal patrons and millennial-aged staff to stay aware of today’s latest entertainment trends.
“People have the assumption after they see what we’ve done that it is through a corporation … and they don’t realize that it’s run by a family that lives here that’s fully invested in this area. Everything we do gets reinvested in the community,” Elaine said.
Expansion looms on the horizon, and Simon said he has received calls from people in cities like San Antonio and Tampa wanting to open their own Cyber Zone locations, but for now, he said he is focused on perfecting their current space.
“We’re about to redo the façade for the front … and make it look very Disney-esque. We are going to do a completely new entrance way for Cyberzone and with that, better lighting … there’s always an expansion or improvement of something going on here,” Simon said. “The future is huge. We’re fortunate to be a part of a growing area and downtown here in Opelika.”
Cyberzone’s regular hours are 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4-11 p.m. on Fridays, 12-11 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1-6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (334) 737-5000 or follow the business on Facebook and Instagram.