VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) — Scene 75 is preparing to open to guests again after it’s been shut down for roughly 18 months.
It’s been closed ever since the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes when the entertainment venue sustained serious damage.
“It was unreal. The team also joined me on site that morning and just tears flowed,” describes Jonah Sandler, Founder & Chief Entertainment Officer.
Sandler says debris was scattered throughout the parking lot, the lobby was smashed in, and anywhere from two inches to three feet of water flooded parts of the building. The tornado also tore off part of the roof and knocked down a 36-foot wall that spanned the width of the building.
“As a business owner, it just brought so much pain and questions as how do you overcome something like this,” says Sandler.
Scene 75 closed immediately to repair and rebuild, coming up with a plan to add with more bells and whistles than the facility had before.
“All of our machines had to be replaced. We had a handful that were salvageable. But for that most part all of the equipment in here is new. Our entire fleet of go-carts is brand new,” describes Sandler.
During the rebuild, Scene 75 suffered another setback in March when the pandemic hit and it had to remain closed. Since its initial closure, Sandler estimates they’ve lost millions.
“It’s just been what seems like one blow after another, but we’re finally turning that corner,” states Sandler.
Finishing up some loose ends and undergoing inspections, it’s nearly ready to debut to the public with some old, familiar favorite games and rides, as well as some new attractions.
“Some of the favorite attractions of our guests have always been our two-story laser tag, our indoor electric go-carts, and our food and beverage,” says Sandler. “The mini bowling is also still here. Our inflata-park is also still here. Our bumper cars are still here, and we’ve gone above and beyond that to add many more attractions as well.”
Scene 75 has added a spin deluxe roller-coaster called the Tsunami as well as a drop tower that was added a couple months before the tornado hit.
“Believe it or not that was one of the only pieces that was still standing from the storm,” says Sandler. “It was an amazing miracle that it withstood the storm. But it did.”
Sandler says the addition of a two-story carousel is a tribute to his grandmother who died this year.
“I was very close to my grandmother,” says Sandler. “Her name was Adele, and I wanted to do something to honor her memory, so I named the carousel ‘The Adeline’ in honor of her. And I know she’d be thrilled to see so many kids and families enjoy it once it’s finally open.”
In addition to the old indoor glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course, Scene 75 has added an 18-hole sunset indoor mini golf course with the look and feel of an outdoor course. It’s also adding a next generation batting cage called the Home Run Zone.
“We added a 300 seat banquet hall complete with chandeliers and the opportunity for private bars so we can host weddings, company events, birthdays, family reunions, and the like,” describes Sandler.
As it gets ready to reopen in the midst of the pandemic, Scene 75 has put a new set of procedures in place to keep guests safe. Masks are required, and rides and machines will be sanitized after each person.
The building can hold more than 3,000 guests, but it will be operating at half capacity and scaling back even more when needed.
“My hope is that we can bounce back stronger collectively, and that for many years Scene 75 remains the place for our guests to have a great time,” says Sandler.
Scene 75 is hoping to reopen sometime during the first week in December.
In addition to the Vandalia location, Scene 75 has four other locations.