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Exclusive: The first look inside Hyper Space Laser Tag arena in Folkestone

By Victoria Chessum

The retro game of laser tag is being offered in Folkestone for the first time - years after a popular out-of-town venue closed.

Hyper Space Laser Tag is the creation of Claire and Nigel Tyler, a married couple of 28 years who live in the east cliff ward of Folkestone.

Their names may be recognised by generations of people as they first set up Kidz Planet in Caesar's Way, Cheriton, some 14 years ago.

Nigel and Claire Tyler in the new lazer tag studio
Nigel and Claire Tyler in the new lazer tag studio

They both took redundancy at the same time from their long-term jobs, Nigel at the Royal Mail and Claire at Eurostar, to create a community base for children to play.

The inspiration behind the idea came from their eldest Kyle, who was three at the time.

More than a decade on, they have expanded the Caesar Way premises to include a nursery and now a high-tech laser tag studio, aimed at older children, teenagers and adults.

The laser guns line the vetting room
The laser guns line the vetting room

Mr Tyler said: "We are trying to get the lifetime value out of the customers so when they grow out of Kidz Planet, they use this.

"As soon as this building became empty, we began purchasing it in summer 2015.

"Canterbury was the nearest place, but we thought it would work so well, having laser parties."

A snapshot of Chris Gadd's work
A snapshot of Chris Gadd's work

A laser tag studio used to be based in the New Dover Road in Canterbury and was a big hit with people from east Kent.

It shut down a number of years ago and was made into a nightclub, Studio 41, before being converted into student accommodation.

Folkestone's first space-themed studio is decked out in luminous glow-in-the-dark paints, with the special effects being done by Chris Gadd, who has decorated theme parks in America and Dubai, along with Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Nigel and Claire first set up their business Kidz Planet some 14 years ago
Nigel and Claire first set up their business Kidz Planet some 14 years ago

Participants start their game in the brief room, where they watch an instruction-led video, and then they go into the vetting room where the laser guns sit.

They then enter the main arena, dodging around the maze-styled layout which also has a smoke effect.

Mrs Tyler said: "We are always here, we can see things happening and we are always reinvesting, we know our customers."We have seen other businesses keep it as cheap as they can, we do try to keep things fresh."As part of the soft launch, businesses including Saga Insurance and Natwest Bank came to try it out, as well as firefighters from Folkestone and Dover. Laser Tag officially opened on Saturday, October 8, and is open Tuesday to Sunday - and open for private hire on Mondays.

It offers parties for hens and stags, Christmas and new year or team building.

For more information, call 01303 661029 or visit playlaser.co.uk.

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