Thunderworld closes after 10 years

Thunderworld Family Fun Center, known for 10 years as a place to go in Blount County for bowling, go-carts, arcade games, batting cages and live music, closed its doors for the last time early Sunday morning.

Owner Ursala McCall said the business on West Lamar Alexander Parkway was a victim of the tough economy.

McCall, contacted Friday by phone, said she was unsure what will happen to the facility. “We have the whole facility up for sale. We are closing as of Sunday morning,” she said

McCall said they have 11 employees who are losing their jobs.

“It is due the economy. We’ve not had the traffic we used to have, and the last two years, traffic really went down, and our sales went down,” she said.

McCall said that on the main level of the facility, there is 31,500 square feet and on the mezzanine level, there is 7,500 square feet, and there are almost eight acres of land.

McCall said explaining to her employees what was happening was tough. “It was extremely difficult. I have my three managers who have been with us since we opened, and another who has been with us for eight years. Some employees who have been with us four or five years. It was extreme difficult to let go,” she said.

McCall said some of her favorite memories are helping with Special Olympics bowling. “Getting to host the Special Olympics bowling was great. When kids come in and do their practice games, just to see their faces light up has been wonderful for all my staff and for me to work,” she said. “I worked a lot of birthday parties, too. Kids love coming in and bowling and playing arcade games. I’m going to miss that, too. My kids are going to miss being here.”

McCall said she first told employees last week that the business could close. “Several employees have other jobs lined up starting Monday,” she said. “They are our families and letting them go is heartbreaking.”

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