Dezerland Action Park Orlando opens with indoor fun, museum
AT: David Fake
Special to Amusement Today
Orlando — After nearly three years of preparation, Dezerland Action Park Orlando opened to the public on December 14, 2020. The park, which occupies more than 800,000 square feet in the former Artegon Marketplace/Festival Bay Mall, is located on the north end of International Drive in the heart of Orlando’s tourist corridor. The new park is currently operating under a soft opening model, which includes six of the 12+ planned, pay attractions; however, admission and parking are free.
The attractions currently included in the soft opening include: Arcade Orlando, Bowling Orlando, Jump Start, The Pinball Palace and The Orlando Auto Museum.
Arcade Orlando is home to over 300 redemption, skill, rhythm, nostalgia, classic pinball, toddler riding games and video games. Many of which were acquired from the now defunct Sega Republic park (Dubai Mall, UAE), which operated from 2009-2017.
Bowling Orlando is a 12-lane boutique bowling experience with exciting lighting, large screen projection televisions, and full bar and restaurant service.
Jump Start has 20,000 square feet of fun, adventure and excitement including trampoline courts, dodge ball, super slam basketball and three rooms to host private parties.
The Pinball Palace features over 150 pinball games from manufacturers such as Data East, Gottleib, Bally, Sega, Stern, and Williams. The Pinball Palace provides historic information about the games along with a tracking house of world records for the players.
Karting Orlando is a two-track racing experience in state-of-the-art electric go-karts manufactured by BIZ Karts, a British go-kart manufacturing company in operation since 1994 in London England, and operating a Florida division serving the United States, Canada and Mexico markets since 2017. Karting Orlando’s two tracks include the Pro Track, which at 1,500 feet is the longest indoor go-kart track in Florida and reserved for racers over 58 inches in height, and the Cadet Track, a shorter track (500 feet) reserved for racers over 48 inches in height.
The Orlando Auto Museum is Orlando’s largest museum of any kind and home to the Dezer Collection. It is also the largest and most engaging private collection of automobiles/vehicles in the U.S. When fully open, will feature over 18 organized groupings of vehicles including Cars of the Stars, the Bat Cave, Cuba Libre and Main Street USA, and the Military Pavilion, just to name a few.
The Orlando Auto Museum is any auto enthusiast’s dream, because not only can guests view the vehicles, they can also buy them, as some of the museum’s highest quality classic and collector cars are also for sale.
There are approximately 2000 vehicles in the collection. There are about 130 of those vehicles displayed throughout the park, outside of the actual museum, where there is no charge to view the vehicles. Highlights of the collection include several Aston Martins valued at approximately $6.5 million and multiple Bat Mobiles from the television show and an array of the movie franchises.
Sure to be a favorite, and possibly the biggest draw to the museum, will be the James Bond Exhibit and Lounge, which is nearing completion. When open, the exhibit will house the world’s largest collection of James Bond memorabilia. The exhibit and lounge will include a full-size Russian tank and jet, as well as feature the two 1964 Aston Martin DB5s, which remains the most iconic and recognizable of the Bond vehicles. These originals made their first appearance in the film Goldfinger; one of those in the collection is a custom, one-of-a-kind stunt model, tricked out with Bond effects, including disguised, retractable machine guns, a flipping license plate, and smokescreen capabilities.
“The majority of the vehicles in the collection, including the tank, are fully operational if you give them gas and a battery. Of course, we need to keep them that way so there's no potential short or electric spark,” says Sebastian Mochkovsky, co-owner of Dezerland, along with the park’s and collection’s namesake and curator, Michael Dezer.
Dezer, an Israeli immigrant, came to the U.S. in 1962 and worked in advertising while he attended night school before creating his own typesetting business. He then began investing in New York City real estate and founded Dezer Properties. In the 1980s, Dezer purchased several oceanfront lots in Miami and developed over a billion dollars in properties. Dezer has had a lifelong affinity for automobiles and motor vehicles, spurred by the purchase of a Vespa at age 16.
In 2012 Dezer opened The Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection to house and display the collection he had amassed. He followed the opening of the museum with a second South Florida attraction he called “Dezerland” in 2018.
It was also in 2018 that Dezer purchased the Artegon Marketplace/Festival Bay Mall property and began the process of relocating the Miami Auto Museum to Orlando, to open as The Orlando Auto Museum, the centerpiece for his second Dezerland Park.
It was during this time that Dezer was introduced to Mochkovsky, the CEO of Sacoa USA, a division of Sacoa, the leading FEC operator in Argentina for over 60 years. Mochkovsky’s intention was to discuss the Sacoa Cashless System with Dezer.
The pitch? Sacoa Cashless System, which the FEC operator developed in the early 1990s as a means to improve ROI and create added control for their business, was the first to use a read-only magnetic stripe card to operate instead of cash or tokens. The company now has 1900 debit card systems installed worldwide, and Sacoa is recognized as the global leader in Cashless Management Systems for the amusement entertainment and leisure industries. Sacoa Cashless System could provide the same ROI and control to Dezerland that it did for its own FECs.
Mochkovsky walked away with much — a co-owner/investor’s stake in Dezerland and a showroom for the product.
After multiple hurdles, setbacks and a pandemic, the park was finally given the go ahead to open in the fall of 2020. However, there was another problem. The model for the business was designed around an expected 78 million people landing in the Orlando airport each year. But thanks to the pandemic, that 78 million was closer to three or four million.
As Mochkovsky put it, “That number, it's a doozy now. With only three or four million coming into the airport, and [every Orlando attraction] trying to get their portion of the pie, do we still try to open with what we have? That's where we are, and we chose ‘yes!’ The good thing is both partners are wealthy and have other investments, so we can keep rolling,” said Mochkovksy. “Of course, no one wants to lose money. But we can wait a little bit more. We will soon begin marketing to the surrounding states, and we have the momentum of Spring Break that is coming right now. We'll let everybody know that we’re open.”
Even so, all one needs to do is spend some time with Mochkovsky to realize that this venture is more than just two “wealthy” businessmen in an investment partnership they hope will be profitable. And then there is Dezer who said in an interview, “I’m a kid at heart. When I was born in Israel, we didn’t have these kinds of park and arcades. I am making up for what I didn’t do when I was a young kid.”
Yes, in this case, this is more than just an investment opportunity, it’s two extremely passionate businessmen who have a stake in their life-long passions. And with the momentum that kind of determination creates, you realize they will make this work, and nothing will stop them.
That is why Mochkovsky and Dezer have chosen to soft open without every attraction ready to go. They have already created some 150 jobs, and when fully open, that number will be closer to 350. At that time, fully open and operating smoothly, is when they will have their grand opening.
The attractions still in the planning, design and/or construction stages are: Hello Park, A Quick Escape, Axecelsior, VR Orlando Coaster, Replay Lounge, UVR Orlando, a meeting/event division, laser tag, as well as several amusement rides.
Hello Park will be a revolutionary multimedia playground for fantasy, creativity and hands-on exploration in a world of unique technology and captivating projections made possible through augmented reality and projection mapping. Designed to be a fascinating adventure for both children and parents, the family attraction will transform each week revealing adventures in oceans, jungles, space and other worlds.
A Quick Escape will be the future home to a series of immersive five-minute escape rooms including such titles as Space Ranger, Pirate’s Cove, Bunker 57, Area 51 and Wizards of Wormbly.
Axecelsior is a cutting-edge axe throwing experience.
VR Orlando Coaster will offer a drone-enhanced roller coaster ride through Orlando.
Replay Lounge, an ultimate social gaming venue, will be home to billiards, shuffleboard tables, foosball tables, air hockey, steel-tip darts, electronic darts, bocce ball, ping pong, classic pinball, and wall-size projection TVs.
UVR Orlando is an experience that will bring virtual reality experiences to life.
“…and this is not finished with what you see here,” said Mochkovky. “We have already purchased bumper cars from the closed Sega Republic park [Dubai Mall, UAE, 2009-2017) and are planning an indoor roller coaster and drop shaft, but [Dezer and I] decided to step off of the accelerator and see if we need to put in another $1.5 million now or over the next few years. So, we will see how things go with what’s here and then decide from there.”