'Cybertainment' Center Opening in Times Square


Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- Hang gliding among the skyscrapers of Manhattan is the latest way for tourists to see the Big Apple -- virtually speaking, of course.

Flying over, around and sometimes into the city's landmarks is just one of the virtual-reality experiences to be had at XS New York, a "cybertainment" center officially opening March 20 in Times Square.

In addition to hang gliding, XS features skiing in the Alps, motorbike racing, golfing and flying a fighter jet.

According to Eric Cohen, director of marketing, XS New York promises to be "the Hard Rock Cafe of cybertainment."

A hundred television screens display video imagery throughout the three-story complex, and a "cyber jock" spins music and hosts competitions in the video arcade.

XS also houses a 5,000-square-foot laser-tag arena where players suit up and pursue one another in an "urban assault environment."

"The laser tag here is so advanced, the New York City Police Department will be using it as part of its officer training," Cohen said.

The QVC cable show Extreme Shopping also will use XS as a home base for airings starting this spring.

Each week, the center will host theme nights featuring disco, trivia and Broadway. Birthday parties will be available to clients as well.

On Broadway theme nights, celebrities from current shows will sign autographs and give out prizes.

In addition to various entertainment features, birthday-party packages at the center include favors; hot dogs or pizza; a souvenir T-shirt; a birthday cake; unlimited fountain beverages, and a party host.

Prices range from $375 to $550 for a party of 15.

Hours are 10 a.m. to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Admission to XS is free. Game prices range from $1 to $6. Internet access costs $12 per hour.

Group discounts are available.

For more information or to make group bookings, call (212) 564-1855 or (888) XS-2-PLAY.

Another XS center is slated to open in Chicago this summer.

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