Free Play arcade is projected to return to Denton and will be located at 101 West Hickory St. in the Denton Square.
The arcade’s old location at 505 W. Hickory St. was permanently shut down in July 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The re-opening date of Free Play is yet to be determined, according to co-owner Kelsie Hyden who said [the date] depends on how long it takes for permits to come in.
“If I had to guess, I might say approximately September 1, but we have learned that making concrete plans before the permits come through is basically impossible,” Kelsie said.
Free Play was founded by Kelsie and Corey Hyden. The two co-owners established locations across North Texas over the past six years, starting at Richardson in 2015, Arlington in 2017, Denton in 2018 and Fort Worth in 2019. All of the locations’ hours of operation for the summer are Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The new location will be almost triple the size of the old arcade with 9750 square feet, compared to the old building’s 3300 square feet. It will feature a full Free Play dining menu including flatbread pizzas, pressed sandwiches and fresh appetizers. The arcade will have two full bars, with one on the ground level and the other on the second floor.
Kelsie said she plans to add new features to enhance arcade customers’ experience.
“We recently introduced a membership program that makes regular visits more affordable,” Kelsie said. “We have a lot of exciting events already in the works and if there is one thing about Free Play, it’s that we are always hard at work figuring out new cool ways to make Free Play even better.”
New games will be introduced throughout all Free Play locations, which will ensure the excitement and attractiveness of the arcade, Kelsie said.
“As [for] games, all of our locations get game rotations with new offerings regularly,” Kelsie said. “Our complete starting game lineup won’t be finalized until we max out our space, but not only can we fit a lot more games, the additional space opens up a lot of opportunities for larger games like Dance Dance Revolution, Skee-Ball and similar [games].”
Free Play in Denton has also teamed up with More Fun Comics and Games in order to promote consumer interest in both of the businesses. Samuel Bruce, Lewisville resident and manager of More Fun Comics and Games, confirmed the collaboration between the store and arcade.
“When [More Fun] got confirmation that [Free Play was] moving next door, we knew immediately that we would be with very good people,” Bruce said. “The [More Fun] staff regularly hung out at the old location and working with [Free Play] to do promotions was a no brainer.”
Bruce did not disclose what exact promotions and offers will be in collaboration with Free Play but said More Fun is receiving new inventory every week, which can open great opportunities for both businesses.
Fort Worth resident and information technology analyst, Brad Moore, has visited Free Play’s Fort Worth location and looks forward to checking out the new Denton location.
“[Free Play is] a cool spot with a nice retro feel,” Moore said. “Nostalgia combined with good food, craft beer and a full bar. It’s a great choice for anything from a family outing to date night for adults.”
Featured Image: The logo for Free Play on the door of the old building on June 21, 2021. Image by John Anderson