Worthington Spotlight

Play: CBUS reaches for new heights in indoor excitement


The words “indoors” and “adventure” are rarely used together.

But the team behind Play: CBUS are trying to change that in a big way, by opening their huge facility this month at 535 Lakeview Plaza Blvd. on the northern edge of Worthington.

Owner Greg Carlin said he’s not just providing a venue but an activity he hopes will get visitors talking and coming back for more.

“People are looking for experiences to share, and not just a place to go,” he said.

Owner Greg Carlin stands next to the iconic letters that will welcome guests to his second facility. The first opened in the Cleveland area in 2017. Additional photos in gallery posted below. (Spotlight photos by Cliff Wiltshire)

“It’s fascinating to see people’s reactions to it.”

The “it” he refers to in this case is a 52,000-square-foot facility filled with climbing elements, a massive ropes course with more than 100 elements, perhaps the longest indoor Via Ferrata course in North America and lots more.

The ropes course is 30 feet in the air. The climbing options include a glow-in-the-dark climbing wall and other entertaining choices. There are two America-Ninja-style courses including one on the ground and one that’s elevated, patterned after the popular television show. A zip-line takes participants 130 feet across the room near the entrance.

The Via Ferrata course, Carlin explained, is inspired by the horizontal climbing phenomena that’s been popular in Europe since it was inspired by the World War II-era efforts in Italy to traverse the Alps by scaling them sideways instead of up and over the mountain range.

Carlin’s initial entry into this entertainment arena is in the Avon suburb of Cleveland. Soon after opening in December 2017, his team began looking for a second location. Their attention quickly was drawn to the north side of Columbus, especially with many Play: CLE visitors coming from this area.

The Worthington facility is twice as large as the Avon one, making the creative juices flow for Carlin and his crew. When they first looked at the massive warehouse, like “kids in a candy shop,” Carlin said, they wondered how they could ever fill it; now they see how even more space might be fun to utilize.

The huge eye-popping space also allows for plenty of room for patrons to properly social distance from one another, which is extremely important during this COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus was not a concern when Carlin locked down this space, the extra demands created by the efforts to slow the spread of the disease have not slowed the efforts to complete Play: CBUS.

There is plenty of room for visitors to spread out, explore the different climbing options available, and even allow parents or other guardians to wander around at ground level while safely watching climbers push out of their comfort zones dozens of feet in the air.

“What’s exciting is no one in the country is doing this,” Carlin said.

“We’re creating something new,” and with this huge facility, “we’ve upped our game by a factor of 10. Our team, we are excited at how to push the envelope.”

Pushing to the edge and beyond one’s comfort level is at the heart of what Play: CBUS wants to offer visitors. Whether it’s a first-timer attempting a ropes course for the first time, or a seasoned climber trying to improve their personal record on a timed boulder climb, Carlin wants his facility to be filled with the endorphins and adrenaline that come from testing one’s self.

“One of the challenges, and the fun part, is ‘How do we make it fun for the new person and for the experienced one?’ ” Carlin said.

For people looking to chill out while watching others, a restaurant and full bar will be part of the location. There also are party rooms which can be divided for smaller groups.

Carlin’s team includes his wife, Robin, and daughter Bridget who is the CPO – chief play officer. It was her brainstorming with her dad, about the need for more indoor play spaces, that helped inspire the Play: CLE concept.

Megan Ramey, the team’s marketing manager, said the facility should be open in September, although it was too soon to pin down a specific date.

Carlin is studying various options for users, but they will include an entry fee that allows unlimited use of the facility for a specific amount of time such as two or four hours, memberships, corporate packages for team-building exercises and party plans.

For more information, follow the Play: CBUS social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.

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