A longtime family attraction in Whiteland has a new, but familiar, face in charge.
The massive bright yellow and blue buildings, with winding go-kart tracks and a mini golf course outside can’t be missed when driving through Whiteland on U.S. 31. Rascal’s Fun Zone has been a staple attraction for the community for around 25 years.
Whiteland residents and brothers Brad and Jeff Goedeker jumped on the opportunity to buy the place from its original owners this year. They took over operations officially this month, with goals to keep Rascal’s Fun Zone going for future generations.
The family entertainment center never officially went up for sale, but there were rumors that the owner, Rick Smith, was contemplating selling the building after owning it for the past two decades, so the Goedeker’s reached out, not wanting to see this community staple come to an end.
“I spent many months writing letters, encouraging the previous owners to reach out to me to discuss this,” Brad Goedeker said.
Goedeker — who is also president of the Whiteland Town Council — and his brother grew up in Whiteland, and they both are now raising their families in town. Rascal’s Fun Zone first opened in the mid to late 90s as a mini golf attraction when they were in high school. Like many Whiteland residents, they spent a lot of time there in high school and college, and now with their own children and families.
“This place has been here since we were in high school. And we think it’s just a staple for the community — everybody knows about it,” Goedeker said. “I wanted to see that carried on for the next generation.”
Taking over Rascal’s Fun Zone is a huge undertaking for the family, he said. The attraction center sprawls 11 acres of land filled with two outdoor go-kart tracks, two miniature golf courses, outdoor bumper boats, two indoor go-kart tracks, a large arcade, concessions and a team of 100 employees.
There are many avenues Goedeker said he is learning about in the business from managing and mentoring several young employees, to go-kart upkeep. Some longtime employees have been helpful in giving him the lay of the land, he said.
“I’m relying on people that, you know, some of them have been here quite a while, a number of years, and kind of passed down knowledge of ordering and maintenance of the go-karts and fixing arcade machines, and just the FEC industry, the family entertainment industry, in general,” Goedeker said.
Though the whole family will be involved in managing the business, Goedeker will be at Rascal’s most of the time running the day-to-day operations, he said. He made the decision to leave his 14-year career as a pharmacist to take this on full time. His wife is a teacher at Clark-Pleasant schools and his brother is a dentist in Camby, and they will both continue working their current jobs.
One priority goal for Goedeker since taking over is to give Rascal’s Fun Zone a needed facelift and updates. The attraction center has fallen behind in upkeep and maintenance over the years, and Goedeker wants to revive it.
A lot of landscaping needs to be redone, the mini golf course animals and statues have faded over time and need fresh paint, the fountains on the course barely work, some arcade games need updating and the duck pin bowling attraction no longer works.
“I really want to modernize the park, clean it up. So folks can have pride in it,” Goedeker said.
He would like to bring in some local artists or students to work on painting the golf course animals, and possibly some murals on the building in the future.
“I feel like this building is a massive canvas that could be done to beautify the community,” Goedeker said.
Safety is also another priority. Goedeker wants to “get everyone on the same page” with safety standards at the attraction center. They are working on a new waiver system, and posting more signage about safety and risks of using the attractions and driving the go-karts.
“Our job is not to see how many people we can have drive a go-kart in an hour, but to have people have a very nice experience, and be safe,” Goedeker said.
Goedeker additionally wants to see Rascal’s Fun Zone become a destination and community center for events like company gatherings, picnics, family reunions and more, in addition to the already popular birthday party events.
He hopes to help see Rascal’s thrive for another 25 years, for families to continue making memories.
“That’s really kind of what we’re going for, and to see this business thrive for the people that work here, but also for the community,” he said. “I mean, what a loss if this business went out.”