Back in 2015, Jim Brown had an idea for a business venture that would serve as entertainment for children and adults and also be a way to honor his late wife, who died two years previously.
Jim and Ola used to travel together a lot.
“Everywhere we went we played mini-golf,” said Brown, 86. “We’d check into a hotel, we’d have dinner and look for the nearest course.”
When a day care, located on Michael Avenue just north of the Highway 51-McLaughlin Drive intersection in Atoka, closed, he bought the property and began plans to construct a miniature golf course and arcade.
That opened in the fall of 2015. Since then, Atoka’s Railroad Adventure Plus has turned into much more than that.
A train track with a train for children was added. Then came a rock wall, more space for parties, bumper cars and a 45-foot Ferris wheel.
Late last year Brown began implementing plans to take the entertainment center to a different level.
As anybody who has driven along Highway 51 in that area has noticed, a 1.5-acre lake, just north of the golf course, is now in place. This spring there will be bumper boats on the water.
A butterfly habitat is also being installed and kids’ train track will be extended to run around the lake.
“All I was going to do was put in a miniature golf course, and everything just kind of evolved from there,” Brown said with a smile.
An eight-foot roller coaster, in the shape of a butterfly, is coming.
A few months ago Jones purchased a portion of a Boeing 777 from an airplane bone yard, brought it inside and turned it into a party room for kids. There’s a large screen at the front of the room and screens on the backs of the 25 real airplane seats. During parties a flight simulation is played.
“I thought that would be really neat for kids,” Brown said.
While the venture is a passion project of sorts, Brown, who has owned several businesses in Atoka and Munford since moving to the area in 1974, did his homework. He said in 2015 there were 168,000 residents in a 20-mile radius of Atoka.
“I was told you need about 200,000 to make this work,” he said. “I figured 168 was close enough.”
Anybody who tours the facility with Brown immediately becomes aware of how passionate he is about the project.
“We think it’s going to be a great thing for the community,” he said. “I just really enjoy the kids.”