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Orange County Itinerary

Calling All Fun-Seekers

Lasers hit the mark. Lunch hits the spot. And then you're in the zone.

September 25, 1997|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Fullerton can be the ideal setting for a quest (as in Laser Quest) or a discovery (as in Discovery Zone). Not to mention an adventure, especially when it comes to eating.

NOON: 1

Think of Laser Quest as a 21st century combination of tag and hide-and-seek, only substantially more aggressive. Depending on your personality it can be a stress reliever or stress inducer; in either case, it's good clean fun with a laser gun.

The decor upon entering might be described as Mayan grunge. Individual code names--e.g., Ironlunger and Spud--are registered before play begins. In the briefing room, a marshal issues participants a laser weapon and a vest with lighted targets, then goes over the rules, among them, "No running." (Right.) During play, he or she patrols the game space.

That space is a multilevel labyrinth featuring ramps, catwalks and towers, themed scenery, special lighting and sound effects. Children and parents often play together.

Points are scored when the weapon's safe red laser beams hit vest targets. Ours was a solo mission, which means all players (in this case 23) are opponents and all have unlimited lives.

That was a good thing. I took more than 60 hits. But being a malevolent sort myself, I tagged other players enough to earn a mid-range ranking on this mission (which, I can tell you, made me feel good about myself all over!)

The secret to mid-range success? When you take a hit, your weapon can't fire for about five seconds; that's the time to take cover, because the little zappers keep firing on you mercilessly. Personalized scorecards showing hits--yours and your opponents--are distributed after the game.

The experience takes about 25 minutes. Actual play lasts about seven minutes but seems a lot longer. A round is $7 for nonmembers, $6 for members (annual membership $22) or $6 per person in groups of 10 or more. Ironman sessions ($10) last twice as long, and down time after a hit is one second. (Ironman play is offered at 7:20 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:20 p.m. and midnight Friday-Saturday.)

There are more than 100 Laser Quest centers worldwide; Fullerton marks the Canadian-based company's 32nd U.S. location.

1 P.M.: 2

At least a dozen restaurants and fast-food franchises are within easy walking distance of Laser Quest. If you haven't yet tried Vietnamese noodle soup (pho), continue your adventure at Pho 99. The eatery offers fare that is both elaborate and inexpensive.

From among North Vietnamese dishes, neophytes might order pho with sliced chicken, while foodies (phoodies?) might opt for rice noodle soup with thin-sliced sirloin steak, well-done flank, fat brisket, tendon and tripe. Each is served with bean sprouts, basil leaves, hot peppers and lime as condiments. Large bowl $4.25, regular bowl (more than ample) $3.75.

Southern Vietnamese choices include egg noodle soup with shrimp, quail egg, thin-sliced pork and liver ($4.25).

Beverages for the truly adventurous include salty plum soda ($1.35); among desserts is three-flavored bean and grass jelly with coconut milk ($1.50).

2 P.M.: 3

Many youngsters might want to play it safe with curly fries and a chocolate shake at Jack in the Box, which is practically next door. They might also prefer the relative security and lower intensity play (compared to Laser Quest) at Discovery Zone across the street.

They'll find there an elaborate series of tubes, cubes and other soft play equipment in bright primary colors, a video and redemption game area (25 cents per token) and TVs in the snack bar--perfect for parents who run out of steam.

Children 3 to 12 are $5.99, under 3 are $3.99. Children under 1 and adults with a paying child are free.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) Laser Quest

229 E. Orangethorpe Ave., (714) 449-0555.

6-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sunday.

2) Pho 99 Restaurant

1121 S. Lemon St., (714) 773-4022.

9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

3) Discovery Zone

136 Orangefair Mall, (714) 578-0056.

10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

Parking: There is ample free parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 43 runs along Harbor Boulevard with a stop at Orangethorpe Avenue. Bus No. 47 runs along Lemon Street with a stop at Orangethorpe Avenue. Bus No. 30 runs along Orangethorpe Avenue with stops at Harbor Boulevard and Lemon Street.

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