It took three months of pressure washing, fixing, replacing, remodeling and restocking. The new owners of Fun and Wheels Amusements on County Line Road replaced concrete flooring with tile and carpet, black and white paint with bright colors, and defective apparatus with new or repaired equipment.
The renovated amusement center features the only go-karts in Hernando or Pasco counties, computerized batting cages, an 18-hole mini-golf course, arcade, children’s play house and inflatables.
Like the original owners, the new venue is family-run. In 1973 Jimmy Rodgers, his son Von and their wives opened Florida’s first-ever licensed go-kart track. Thirty-seven years later, Tedd Juanis, his son-in-law Brian Chambe and their wives Barbara and Debbie saw an opportunity to resurrect what they felt was a much-needed amusement center in Hernando County.
“There was so much potential here,” said Brian. “I used to come here all the time as a kid. The place had fallen into disrepair and was almost never open.”
“When we discovered it was for sale,” added Tedd, “We knew it was the right opportunity at the right time.”
Brian does repairs and maintenance and operates the go-karts and batting cages. Juanis manages the finances, runs the arcade and does whatever else is needed.
Barbara and Debbie say they are the “creative brains behind the outfit.” Debbie created the website, makes flyers and does advertising. Barbara chooses decor, color schemes, schedules events, and adds creative flair to the buildings and grounds.
The tire-ringed, one-fifth-mile (1,000 foot) go-kart track is as wide as a full-size roadway. Powered by Honda engines, the single and double-rider karts can reach speeds up to 25 mph. “These are not kiddie karts,” cautioned Brian. “The corners of our track tilt up like on a real race track.”
Fun and Wheels has five different batting cages: three baseball (40, 60 or 80 mph) and two softball (slow pitch and fast pitch), all run by computer. Tedd explained, “No more coin-operated models. Customers just buy time.”
The arcade doubles as the center of operations. Computers activate batting cages, send music throughout the campus, and track amusement sales. Arcade games range from the most modern to a vintage Ms. Pac-Man. Games work via tokens, many giving tickets that players redeem for prizes.
A party area is available for birthdays and other events. Soft drinks are sold on site, and Beef O’Bradys, which is within walking distance, delivers food as needed.
Beside the arcade sits a child-size picnic table, playhouse and bubble machine, favorite respites of the Chambe children: Madison, age 8; Jasmine, age 5 and Brendon, age 3. Adult-sized picnic tables offer a spot to watch children play or dine on take-out from Beef’s.
The mini-golf course is “very Victorian,” according to Tedd: “It’s quaint and speaks to the history of this place.” The 18 brightly-bordered holes snake around stately old trees and bushes. A small pond and lighthouse sit at the center. “It looks great with the lighthouse lit-up,” he added. “This place really comes alive at night.”
Easily spotted from the road, an 18-foot inflatable double-lane waterslide and changing assortment of bounce houses round-out the amusements. Fun and Wheels partners with Spring Hill’s Big Top Bouncers ( www.bigtopbouncers.com) to offer inflatable moonwalks, wet slides, obstacle courses, boxing, jousting, bungee games, dunk tanks, snow cones, cotton candy, spin art and other activities both onsite and for rent.
“They’re the biggest and best, that’s why we have them,” stated Tedd. “They’re the most experienced with inflatable amusements, and they are great people to work with.”
Like the Chambes, Big Top Bouncers owner/operators Debbie and Curtis Henderson also have three children: 12-year-old twins Kaitlyn and Kimberly, and 15-year-old son Sean who works in the family business. “We’re all like one big family,” stated Debbie.
As business increases and time permits, Fun and Wheels would like to add to their amusement venue by creating a paintball park. They are looking to partner with a paintball company and welcome all inquiries.
Upcoming special events will include an Oktoberfest with vendors in the front acreage plus haunted go-karts, mini-golf and hayrides. “We meet so many people who tell us they used to come here when they were kids,” stated Tedd. “It’s great to be able to earn a living being outdoors, making new friends and seeing so many people having a good time right here in Hernando County.”
All amusement prices are posted on their website. Go-karts are $5.50 for five minutes or $10 for 10 minutes. Batting cages start at $7.50; Mini-golf is $4; Inflatables cost $3 for 20 minutes or $8 for two hours (add $2 for waterslide). Birthday parties are $10 per child and include a go-kart ride, round of mini-golf, arcade tokens, 30 minutes of inclusive batting cage time for the group, and use of the party room for three hours. Food and drink are $2 extra; $3 extra for inflatable play.
Fun and Wheels is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Strurday from noon to 11:30 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. (closed Monday).
BIZ AT A GLANCE
Name: Fun and Wheels Amusements, Inc.
Location: 9227 County Line Road, Spring Hill
Jody Bowes writes regularly for Hernando Today. She lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at JBowesHernando@aol.com.