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No-harm battles are focus of new business

Players at DartMania run, hide and shoot a lot of sponge darts


Young players filled the air with their laughs, squeals and sponge darts as they played a variety of games on Sept. 17 at DartMania in Englewood.

The newly opened business occupies the former Country Buffet location at 301 Englewood Parkway. Designers created two large obstacle-filled rooms for the high-energy sponge dart games. Parents are welcome to join their children in the games or they can find seats along the outside walls where they can watch the action through viewing windows.

“My partner Vinny Mulvey and I opened this business because our kids and their friends loved playing games with their Nerf blasters, sending foam darts all over our yards,” said Jennifer Piccolo, co-owner. “We figured other kids liked the Nerf blasters and foam darts, so why not provide a place for them to play?”

The South Denver resident said they found the location and discovered that when Country Buffet moved out, it left everything behind, including the dishes and silverware. It took about six month to demolish the inside of the building and create the DartMania facility.

“We also had to decide what equipment would work best here,” the co-owner said. “We did research and picked 25 Nerf blasters and had our kids and their friends put them to the test and rate them. They picked the top 10 and that is what we have on hand now.”

Prospective players are greeted in the lobby. They are provided safety glasses, a Nerf blaster and foam darts before entering one of the obstacle-filled rooms where music is playing and an announcer directs the action. The Nerf blaster provided is a single-shot, but for a small cost the player can upgrade his or her blaster. There are blasters that hold several darts in a revolving cylinder as well as blasters that shoot farther than the standard-issue one. Players wear colored vests that include pouches to collect additional sponge dart ammo. The vests are also used to divide players into teams for games.

“Sessions are an hour and that is divided into short games. Some are individual games like freeze tag and others are team games like capture the flag,” Piccolo said. “We find the kids really get into it as they run around, duck for cover and try to hit a kid from the other team with a sponge dart.”

Piccolo said, as far as she knows, DartMania is a one-of-a-kind business. She said she feels it has a lot of potential and the firm wants to be a good community partner.

“Our target audience is 5- to 12-year-olds, so we have a special way to help the elementary schools,” she said. “We offer a party date to them and then donate half the entrance fee to their schools. We have had good response to the offer, with schools often bringing 50 or more kids to the event. We want even more schools to visit us.”

Amber Sary and her daughter Gwenavi visited DartMania Sept. 16.

“We heard about DartMania, thought it would be fun and decided to try it,” Amber said. “I was in the room for a while and it is a lot of fun and Gwenavi is having a blast. I didn’t know what to expect when we decided to try it out. It is actually a great activity. It teaches teamwork, plus the children get a lot of exercise and have fun doing it.”

Sydney Moore, a smiling 6-year-old, said she loved DartMania and comes there to play a lot.

“I like being on a team where you shoot the people on the other team but make sure you don’t shoot the people on your team,” she said. “I am one of the best players at DartMania. I am a good shot with the Nerf blaster and I run fast and dodge a lot to keep from getting hit. It is a lot of fun and I like it a lot.”

DartMania is across Cherokee Street from the Wells Fargo Bank tower. The facility opens from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Weekend hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a. m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday. The cost per hour is $8 on weeknights and $10 on weekends.

Anyone interested in the program can call DartMania at 303-761-5555.


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