Sega World Bournemouth
From Sega Retro
|Sega World Bournemouth|
|Location: Bournemouth, United Kingdom|
|Google maps: 50.718393,-1.874131|
|Closed: 1998 (as a Sega World), 2006 (as a Sega Park)|
Sega World Bournemouth was a Sega World video arcade, opened on July 24th 1993. It was the first dedicated Sega-branded arcade to open in Europe, and is thought to have been the largest of its type for its time.
Unlike SegaWorld London, which would become the the Sega World showpiece in the UK, the Bournemouth arcade was initially merely a place to play arcade games and browse a Sega-branded store, visit the Burger King next door, or play bowling, essentially being an early example of what is now known in the arcade industry as an FEC (Family Entertainment Centre).
Themed areas for arcade machines, executed in Bournemouth with the "Zap Attack" and "Driving Edge" zones, would also be a concept that Sega expanded on in SegaWorld London. Sega additionally used this location to demonstrate and test-run many of their newest arcade machines, although this and most of its other unique features were dropped by the late 2000's, with the venue losing any extra pretence besides being an arcade.
On opening day, Sega World Bournemouth was laid out over 3 tiered floors at ground level of Westover Road. Most of this was undone and altered after 1994, with most areas either closed off or structurally changed in the following years.
The entrance led directly to the 1st floor, which contained the Reception, karaoke machines in an area called "The Din Bin", action-themed arcade machines in "Zap Attack", and access to the back area, with eight mini bowling lanes and a Burger King restaurant under the names of "Sonic Strike" and "Megabyte", respectively.
A raised, centrepiece section in the middle of the arcade, known as "The Driving Edge". The floor primarily featured racing games, including deluxe and 8 player iterations of Virtua Racing, but also had two R-360 units, both running G-LOC.
In addition to exit access, this floor had three main sections-"Toejam's Gang", a children's area with kiddie rides and claw machines, "The Lowdown", an educational section revealing secrets of Sega's research and development of coin-ops, and the Sega Store, selling merchandise and video games.
Planning for Sega World Bournemouth is known to have begun as far back as early 1992. After several years of successful arcade operations in their country, Sega Of Japan gave the newly-established Sega Amusement Europe a brief on doing the same in their continent. Permission was officially given by Bournemouth Borough Council for Sega to open an arcade in July 1992, with word getting out in the town's paper soon afterwards.
After the successful openings of two test locations, Metropolis, in the London branch of Hamleys, and SegaFolies, in a Virgin Megastore located in Marseilles, France, building work on Bournemouth began in April 1993. The centre was projected to be opened on July 1st, however after the original floor plan failed a fire safety check, the day had to be pushed back to accommodate this.
Sega World Bournemouth officially opened on July 24th 1993, to much fanfare. The opening day event (which occurred a week later) was attended by many locals and members of the gaming press, and made underway by popular UK TV personality Chris Evans, also used in other promotions by Sega Europe around this point.
Little else is known about the opening day, however it can be assumed that it went down well from positive magazine coverage. It may have also been filmed for a feature included in the Games World TV series aired on Sky One, though as the footage itself is inaccessible for viewing, this cannot be for certain.
The venue had ran well in its initial few months of service, frequently testing new arcade machines and even gaining an AS-1 unit, but began to suffer from high running costs in off-season periods. Sonic Bowl and the educational area were both removed after the venue's initial season in 1994, and this was followed by the closure of the Sega Shop in 1995. The reception was taken out in 1997, requiring an altered entrance. In 1998, the venue was renamed Sega Park Bournemouth.
By this point, larger machines such as the R360's and 8 player Virtua Racing were removed, any named sections of the arcade had been stripped of their branding, and substantial parts of the building were sitting unused. Despite this, its Sega association still made it a hotspot for new games in Bournemouth, with UK Dreamcast magazines reporting on NAOMI-based cabinets on test there in the Autumn of 1999, including Crazy Taxi and Jambo Safari.
Sale to The Leisure Exchange
On the 31st of March 2000, Sega Amusements Europe sold the Sega Park arcade chain to The Leisure Exchange PLC and a five-year license to use the "Sega Park" brand. Leisure Exchange soon secured a refurbishment of the venue, removing the Sonic Carpet and replacing it with a generic "Leisure Exchange" space-themed carpet. All other Sonic-related decor was removed as well, and the company secured the addition of more gambling-related machines, most of which were located in the "Sega Casino" section aimed at the over-18 market. This went against Sega's family ethos devised in the early 90's, but since they were no longer in control of the arcades, no changes could be made. The new management and new employees were rumoured to be hard to deal with, causing Burger King to close their outlet after 10 months, with an Ice Cream parlour - Sticky Mickey, moving into their place.
The venue's maintenance and reputation began to lower, with more shady people and chavs accompanying the venue, making it very unwelcoming and rundown, falling out of favour for any remaining regulars as a result due to the unwelcoming nature. As Leisure Exchange focused less on video games, new machines began to come into the venue increasingly less often, to the point where even OutRun 2, one of Sega's big releases, could not be found until well into 2004, the game having been released in December 2003.
By 2003, Leisure Exchange put up portions of the building for sale, and by 2004, they sold the space formerly housing the Third Floor of Sega World to Gala Casinos, who opened their Bournemouth branch in 2004. In February 2005, Leisure Exchange made an attempt to relocate the arcade to a smaller building nearby that formerly housed a branch of the then-bust MVC chain, however local police raised objections on the grounds of "potential high crime and disorder" at the venue.
In 2006, Leisure Exchange's license to the "Sega Park" brand had expired, and with the exception of the Southampton branch rebranded all their existing Sega Park venues under the Leisure Exchange name. Sega Park Bournemouth became home to a new Quasar Elite laser tag branch that opened at the rear of the arcade formerly housing the Sonic Bowl area during the Sega World days, and with this addition, the venue was renamed 'Leisure Exchange and Quasar Elite'. Despite that, Traces of Sega's involvement could still be found in the arcade, including branded welcoming signs and bins. Few machines from pre-Leisure Exchange years were around, with the exception of the deluxe 4 player Daytona USA 2.
In 2007, Gala Casino bought out the premises contract for the building and expanded in size to the disused second floor and the rest of the ground floor. With this, Leisure Exchange was heavily decreased in size to only half its size, and now paid the lease to the Casino to operate in the building. In early 2010, the establishment was renamed again to simply "Amusements", and the Quasar facilities were shut down that November due to flooding issues.
Amid large losses in the company and later ceasing operations fully, Leisure Exchange sold the arcade to ex-Bowlplex managing director Tracy Standish, who chose to run the arcade independently. In 2012, the arcade was given a brand new name: "Prize Central", with a new focus on ticket redemption games. In 2013, the arcade purchased some of the machines formerly housed at the then-closed Sega Park Southampton, such as Ferrari F355 Challenge and Daytona USA, and with stickers from them still intact. At the end of August, A year later, the venue renamed again to "Fun Central" and older machines getting removed fairly soon afterward., with others like Dancing Stage Euromix, Time Crisis 4, Let's Go Jungle and a 3 player deluxe setup of OutRun 2 SP being the sole titles to remain after this, alongside new Transformers, Sonic Sports Air Hockey and Basketball machines bought from Sega Amusements. Social media channels set up for the arcade would also occasionally post about its Sega-owned origins.
The arcade was refurbished in 2014, gaining a "ShakeXpress" cafe at the front of the venue, and losing any small remaining traces of Sega Park-era decor- all but one surviving glass pane, with a piece of Sonic art imprinted on it. Having previously been used in a welcoming sign for the venue, it appeared to have been in storage, until being fixed to an outside wall at the entrance as part of the furnishings. By 2016, ShakeXpress was shuttered and the Sonic glass was removed for unknown reasons, leaving out nothing from the days when the venue was traded as Sega World.
In December 2019, the arcade announced that they would transition to become a Bowling Alley and rename itself as "Bowl Central", with the addition of a 6-lane bowling alley and restaurant being constructed in the disused Quasar space, which constantly was where Sega World's bowling lanes once were. The venue would see its re-opening in February 2020 to major success, to the point that the owners purchased a disused nightclub in Fareham and converted it into their second Bowl Central venue, which opened in March 2023.
Sega Swing cabinets and others in Zap Attack.
A Rail Chase machine.
A World Club Champion Football machine
The Daytona cabinet sourced from Sega Park Southampton, shortly before removal.
- Main article: Sega World Bournemouth/Magazine articles.
|Sega-related venues in the United Kingdom|
|Bournemouth (1993-2000) | London (1996-1999) | Tamworth (199x-xxxx) | Wolverhampton (199x-xxxx) | Birmingham (199x-xxxx)|
|Glasgow (1993-200x) | Acton (1994-199x) | Colindale (1994-2008) | Southampton (1996-2013) | Wood Green (199x-xxxx) | Basildon (199x-2005) | Reading (199x-199x) | Bristol (199x-200x) | Harlow (1997-2003) | Tower Hill (xxxx-200x) | Harrow (200x-200x) | Holborn (200x-200x) | Brighton (2002-2006)|
|Brixton (199x-xxxx) | Catford (199x-xxxx) | Woolwich (199x-xxxx)|
|Croydon (199x-199x) | Harrow (199x-199x) | Romford (199x-199x)|
|Sega Prize Zone|
|West Midlands (2015-Present) | Southport (2016-2019) | Hatfield (2016-Present)|
|Metropolis (1992-199x) | Planet Sega Queensway (199x-200x)|