The childlike love of play is something with which many of us grown-ups lose touch. Fun can be difficult to incorporate into adult life, yet every now and then it can be cemented by breaking loose the shackles of normality and seizing moments beyond the status quo. Many local businesses recognize this case and spend their lives shouting at you to let loose.
Nothing says play like driving a tank. At a veteran-owned business tucked away in Melbourne, FL, business partners John Kinney and Troy Lotane have created the infrastructure to provide this once in a lifetime opportunity to excited guests. At Tank America, customers are given the chance to be at the helm of tanks ecclesiastically named FV433 Abbots. The three menacing Abbots were the property of the British Army until acquired by the United Nations and later purchased by the intrepid business partners.
John Kinney recalls a day roughly a half-decade ago when he received a call in which Lotane asked him if he knew that they could purchase tanks, “Well no, Troy. I didn’t know that. But I’m interested!” An hour outside of the largest tourist destination in the country, Kinney remembers thinking, “I’d like to drive a tank, I think other people would also like to drive a tank…so I think we can set something up.” Viewed by most as an eccentric business idea, the development of Tank America was met with relentless execution. The dream of this business was never discounted.
With Lotane’s background in the Army and the Marines, coupled with Kinney’s experience in the weapons industry fleshing out contracts with the military and police department, the dream of running such a unique business has now been actualized as if it were imminent. Both men were born and raised in Brevard County, which posed no other question to their business location. Kinney says that Lotane was teased while in the Military that his operational and mechanical knowledge of tanks would never translate to civilian life; he showed them!
A day at Tank America will begin in the army-outfitted briefing room with a forty-five-minute instruction on how to be a proficient tank crew. Once the briefing is through, you’ll head to the hangar where you and your outfit will climb into your armored personnel vehicles for the most anxiously anticipated taxi of your life, to the 16.56-ton crawling behemoth you’ll soon station. In the belly of the beast, the crew becomes fully immersed in the mechanical organs which only very few of all mankind has had the occasion to bear.
These tanks are nothing short of powerful. Woodland, mud pits and other obstacles are all conquerable by the two-ton diesel guzzling Rolls Royce Engines powering each Abbot. Tank America even struck a deal with a local junkyard that made possible their “Car Crush Package.” With a few passes over The Joneses’ old Buick, the envy of yesteryear will take the form of a pancake. The car can then be completely torn apart with a finishing move dubbed “The Can-Opener,” spewing the remains of what was a car into every direction outward from your helm. For the duration of your operation post, the centrism of all the power in your world is at your fingertips.
Once crews have tasted enough power for a lifetime, they can unwind in the mess hall to some local barbeque and watch live footage of other combatant guests duking out shots in the laser tag arena. The Tank America building has been outfitted by an interior design group into a Middle Eastern battlefront, hosting 90-minute Tactile Laser Tag battles. Tank America asked the designers during the inception to help them create “Disney World, meets warzone,” with the response of, “Disney doesn’t normally do warzones…but we can make you what you need.”
Tactile Laser Tag provides real-weight guns with authentic recoil and noise comparable to a paintball gun. Online profiles log all of your stats like a real-life video game, tracking personal progress and that of friends’ too. Teams are split evenly into groups with up to ten players, with beginners starting at an average score of 10 and developing upon experience in the arena. A hospital and an auto garage serve as bases on the opposite ends of the facility, with on the spot button-pressing revival stations. A prison, an alley, a coffee house and more exist as battlegrounds between bases for the bulk of combat. Creative games like “capture the sandbag” and the Hollywood set realism exist to elevate Tank America’s Tactical Laser Tag experience to a level above the rest!
Tank America is a company that everyone wishes they started, and nobody would refuse a ticket to. John Kinney remembers his first tank driving experience as, “Exhilarating! I haven’t seen anyone get out of a tank without grinning from ear to ear!” It’s an unbelievable experience addable to your resume of play and will surely serve as bragging rights for the rest of your life.
Starting rates for Tactical Laser Tag and the Tank America experience begin at $20 and $349. Tend to that suppressed inner child of yours and their sense of play.
Contact Tank America at (321) 241-1122 or visit their website at tankamerica.com for more information.