Family Fun Abounds at Nerf Gun Arena in Oakdale

Jason Wheeler at Dart Escape, his Nerf gun arena and virutal reality playground.
Dart Escape offers a Nerf gun arena for kids and adults, as well as around 50 virtual reality games.
Jason Wheeler gets to be a kid again at Dart Escape, his Oakdale Nerf play place that's perfect for a winter family outing.

Dart Escape provides the perfect place to go when you are looking to get your adrenaline pumping and run, jump and hide in a Nerf gun battle arena with friends and family. The game is similar to something like paintball or laser tag, only with the colorful foam darts that were ubiquitous in childhoods beginning in the 1970s.

“We wanted to be able to share the fun, and here we are,” owner Jason Wheeler says.

Nerf guns have been around since 1970 when the toy company, Hasbro, created them. They began as a foam ball that quickly evolved into the signature darts that take on many forms. Some have suction tips, while others have Velcro that allows them to stick onto vests. They even offer glow-in-the-dark darts for night time fun.

Dart Escape is a blend of Wheeler’s childhood memories and his desire to bring the activity to the next generation in an innovative way by giving people a chance to shoot their beloved Nerf guns in a special space dedicated to this type of play. With families in mind, he created the facility, which is celebrating its one-year birthday this December.

“Now our kids and everyone else’s can have fun playing something similar to what we grew up with,” Wheeler says.

Screams of excitement emanate from the play arenas, which are filled with barriers such as barrels and walls to hide behind so you can sneak up and hit your competition. They also have a viewing room for those who feel more comfortable just watching instead of participating in the games themselves.

“It can get a little loud with all the excited players gearing up to go in, but it is definitely an atmosphere of excitement and fun,” Wheeler says.

The dart arena was designed for ages 6 and up, and can be set up for several different games such as team elimination, which is the most popular game option. Once you are hit, you are out and have to wait to play again until the first winner is crowned. They also offer games like capture the flag and defending games, which include guarding a flag or a base. Each game has a referee to keep the play fair and safe.

The facility provides guests with all of the equipment necessary to play. They have different types of guns and you can choose between a base rental, which is $15 and includes guns like the Zombie Strike Hammershot and Rival Kronos, or an elite rental, which is $20 and will get you an upgraded gun such as the Helios XVIII-700 or the Surgefire.

“Everything is in a controlled environment, and please feel free to join in with your kids,” Wheeler says to parents.

Along with the dart arena, they also offer around 50 virtual reality games which range from piloting a pirate ship and using Google maps to explore the earth to a popular game called “beat Saber” which involves using a colored light saber to slash blocks to the beat of the music in different songs.

They have open playtime during their regular hours; they also open at special hours for private events, such as birthday parties. 

Wheeler jokes that Nerf guns are so popular with kids and adults alike because it is a great way to bombard your friends and family with darts.

“It gets the blood pumping with an activity that is challenging, while safe. You don’t have to be amazing to have a great time, you just have to be willing to participate,” Wheeler says.

Dart Escape
3115 Hadley Ave. N., Oakdale
Facebook: Dart Escape
Instagram: @dartescape