Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An Andretti Checkered Flag Birthday!

For my birthday this year I was thinking about the usual visit to a fancy restaurant, which I love doing and always enjoy, but the big ol' kid in me spoke up and instead we went to Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Marietta! 

Instead of live jazz, we revved up our motors; instead of candlelight, we shot each other with lasers; instead of devouring desert, we took out dozens of zombies. It was the BEST birthday outing!


Mario Andretti | Andretti Karting, Marietta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Mario Andretti | Andretti Karting, Marietta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I had the great honor of attending the VIP Preview Opening of the Marietta, Georgia, location of Andretti Indoor Karting & Games some time ago, when Mario Andretti himself was in attendance!


Andretti Family Racers | Andretti Karting, Marietta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Family Racers | Andretti Karting, Marietta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

But Mario didn't come alone. He brought with him four other professional race car drivers from the Andretti family. I met and got to talk with Mario and Marco Andretti (awesome experience), and Jarrett, John and Michael Andretti were there, too! For the first time meeting even a single professional race car driver, you can only imagine what an adrenaline rush it was to meet FIVE!

I'll come circle back to that evening...let me now tell you about my birthday!


Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I'd wanted to try out laser tag for years and years. Wow! What a rush! 

I'm not as fit as I used to be, but put me in a 4,000 square feet laser tag arena and you'd think I was Rambo! Running, shooting...dodging, shooting...strategizing, shooting...hiding, shooting...taking a wrong turn and getting shot by a youngster half your size: Priceless! 

Whether playing on a team or everyone-for-themselves, this is a must-do at Andretti Karting and something I will do every single time I go!

When telling a friend about laser tag the day after my birthday, I was asked, "Who are you? Sheldon Cooper?" I totally took that as a compliment, knowing full well that I'd worn a Star Trek t-shirt under my pullover. Just sayin'.


Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Dark Ride XD is Georgia's only 7D experience. That's right...not 3D, not 4D, but 7D! It's a thrill ride, a game of strategy, highly competitive, and another total adrenaline rush!

Each "game" can have up to eight participants and everyone on the outside is watching the competitors on video monitors outside the experience. There are three options: Zombies! (self explanatory, but so much more!); Gigamon (think Godzilla); and Los Banditos (a mad scientist and robot cowboys—that's not weird, right?). 

Every time I've been, being a huge fan of The Walking Dead, I've opted for the Zombies! experience. Believe me, when they say 7D experience...you're going to feel all 7 dimensions! You must, must, must do this! 


Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are loads of games here...more than 120, in fact! Some are totally for fun and some spit out tickets that you can exchange for prizes in their "Victory Lane" redemption center. On my birthday we only did the just-for-fun games, including taking out loads more zombies, a Star Wars fighter pilot game, and a number of others. 

There are also high-tech racing simulators, an extreme ropes course (overhead the gaming area!), and lots more that I'm sure I haven't yet seen. You will not get bored here. It might take you a while to wind down when you get home, but you're zoom-zoom-zoom the whole time you're here! You've got the bars and restaurant for breaks, when and if you need a pit stop.


SkyBar | Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
SkyBar | Andretti Karting, Marietta GA | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are multiple food and beverage (including libations) choices. At the top of the facility is their SkyBar, drenched in sky-blue lighting. On the far side, you can watch the karting racers zooming by and at the west end of the bar, just beneath the barrel roof, you can see motorists zooming by on Interstate 75.

There's also an entrance-level bar that has a great view of the gaming area and the 12-lane cosmic bowling alley


Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia
Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia

Barry had already gifted me the Andretti Karting outing for my birthday, but he took it an extra lap...he let me win our race! I'm totally fascinated with velocity (rockets, skydiving, etc.), but Barry's the speed expert...so much so that I totally get the feeling that now he has a few laps under his belt, he'll be on the winner's podium the next race.

Don't let the word "karting" fool you...these are the fastest karts in all of Georgia! And there are three tracks, each for a specific age group.

Oh...when you arrive, before you can play games or get on the race track, you have to register. Part of that process is taking a photo of yourself. Smile!...make it a great photo because it's the one that will be used on any scoreboards you might show up on. I obviously didn't learn that lesson the last time.


Andretti Grill | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Grill | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We went directly to Andretti Karting after work, with the intention of dining there. They have a full-service restaurant, Andretti Grill. Burning all the calories we were from laser tag and racing—and the fact that calories are non-existent on one's birthday—I had "The Humphry"...BBQ pulled pork piled on top of rich, creamy homemade macaroni and cheese

There was so much that I couldn't finish it, so I enjoyed the rest as a midnight snack. It was delicious both times! Our server was friendly and attentive...an overall great dining experience. Again, Barry treated.


Games, Games, Games | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Games, Games, Games | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My perception of this place is that it was designed more for adults, but it's totally family-friendly, too. It's a great place to hang out with friends after work or for a weekend get-together. I love the energy here...everyone is here to have a fun time and everyone I've met, visitor and staff alike, are there to support that.


Travis and Nikki | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia
Travis and Nikki | Andretti Karting, Marietta Georgia

Back to the first time I went to Andretti Karting. The evening of the VIP Preview, when Mario and family were there, I was hosted by BRAVE Public Relations (they've been wonderful to me over the years!) and my friend Nikki went with me—we were drenched by time we left, many hours and many adrenaline rushes later. 

For my recent birthday, my friend Barry took me (what a great gift!). I was super excited that he was as excited about going as I was, and yes, lots more adrenaline rushes!


Just as my recent birthday was, that first time to Andretti Karting was adrenaline rush after adrenaline rush! I'm not a teenager anymore, but I certainly feel like it every time I go to Andretti Indoor Karting & Games...I can hardly wait to go again!

Head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook page for more photos from my visits to Andretti Karting!

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