Paradise Park Opens

In 1992, Jon and Juli Ellis opened their family fun center named Putter's Paradise in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a small town located just outside Kansas City, Missouri. The center included a small clubhouse of about 2,500 square feet and two miniature golf courses. In 1993, the owners added an 8-station outdoor batting cage. Then in 1994, the clubhouse was expanded to 3,500 square feet to accommodate a 20-station game-room and a birthday party area. Finally, in 1998, a 17 tee-station outdoor driving range was added.

As Kansas City grew over the 1990s, Lee's Summit grew even faster with its excellent school system, superior quality of life and the extension of interstate highway I-470, making it an easy commute to Kansas City. Between 1990 and 2003, Lee's Summit became a much desired white-collar family suburb of Kansas City, and the population grew from 46,500 to 75,300, with average family incomes of $95,600 in 2003.

The Ellis' realized that with their 15 acres of land and the growing market population, there was an opportunity for major expansion. So in late 2000, they retained our company to conduct a market feasibility study for expansion. The feasibility study found there was not only an ample market area population to support expansion, but also a great target market niche of white-collar, upper middle-class and above, college-educated families with children. What's more, there was little competition meeting that market's needs, especially for younger children. The report also found the driving range was not all that profitable and not the best synergistic use of the land to complement a family entertainment center. Rather, we recommended the driving range be replaced by a family-oriented go-kart track.

As a result of our market study findings and recommendations, the Ellis' then commissioned our company in 2001 to prepare preliminary plans, a cost estimate and pro forma financial projections.

After securing financing and required zoning approval for the expansion, White Hutchinson was retained to produce the new center for the owners. This included not only the design, but the creation of a new brand identity for the center. We also specified and coordinated the procurement of all equipment and supplies and assisted with all aspects of start-up management, including training and development of policies and procedures. As in all our production work, all aspects of start-up management and training was a collaborative effort with the Ellis' and their key management staff.

Construction was phased to maximize revenue by keeping the facility open as long as possible. Half the parking lot and the go-kart track were constructed first. Then on September 3, 2002, the bulldozer arrived to demolish the old clubhouse, and a trailer was set up in the new parking lot as a temporary office and ticketing facility. Throughout the balance of construction, the owners were able to operate the miniature golf, go-karts and batting cages as well as to continue attracting group business at the campfire area.

The end result is Paradise Park, a 38,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor combination family entertainment center and children's edutainment center. The family entertainment portion opened in November 2003 and the children's edutainment (play & discovery) center opened this month. All that remains from the original Putter's Paradise is 10 holes of miniature golf (now expanded to 18 holes), and the batting cages.

Paradise Park has the following components:

Family Entertainment Portion

  • Indoors
    • Foam Factory
    • Bumper cars
    • Rock-climbing wall
    • 60 games
    • Redemption prize store
    • Paradise Café with seating
  • Outdoors
    • Family go-kart track
    • 18 holes of miniature golf
    • Large lake
    • Picnic and campfire area
    • Batting cages

Children's Edutainment Center

  • Indoors
    • Soft-contained-play
    • Block play
    • Children's cooking
    • Art studio
    • Miniature play
    • Water table
    • Infant-toddler area
    • Reading room
    • Pretend house
    • Pretend dress-up
    • Pretend supermarket
    • Do-it-yourself face painting
    • Performance area
    • Fish and critter area
    • Paradise Café
    • Family/Companion care restroom
  • Adventure Play Garden (opening this Spring)
    • Pretend fishing
    • Play stream
    • Campfire cooking
    • Dinosaur and construction dig
    • Infant-toddler garden
    • Huts in the prairie
    • Age-appropriate climbing structures
    • Pedal go-karts
    • Performance area
    • Multi-use pavilions
    • Live river otter habitat

Shared Facilities

  • Birthday party check-in area
  • Birthday party rooms
  • Multi-purpose meeting rooms

We have created a web page with a slide show that includes progress photos as well as photos of the finished center. We will be featuring more photos of Paradise Park in future issues.