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A family entertainment center (or centre), often abbreviated FEC in the entertainment industry, is a small amusement park marketed towards families with small children to teenagers, and often entirely indoors or associated with a larger operation such as a theme park. They usually cater to "sub-regional markets of larger metropolitan areas." FECs are generally small compared to full-scale amusement parks, with fewer attractions, a lower per-person per-hour cost to consumers than a traditional amusement park, and not usually major tourist attractions, but sustained by an area customer base. Many are locally owned and operated, although there are a number of chains and franchises in the field. FECs are sometimes called family amusement centers, play zones, family fun centers, or simply fun centers. Some non-traditional FECs, called urban entertainment centers (UECs), with more customized and branded attractions and retail outlets, are associated with major entertainment companies and may be tourist destinations. Others, sometimes operated by Non-Profit organizations as Children's Museums or Science Centers, tend to be geared toward edutainment experiences rather than simply amusement. FECs may also be adjuncts to full-scale amusement parks.
FECs are essentially a converged outgrowth of theme restaurants that increasingly developed their in-house amusement features, small-scale amusement parks needing more offerings than just a few rides and midway games, and diversifying formerly one-attraction venues (water parks, skate parks, billiard halls, bowling alleys, and so on). All three categories have moved over several decades continually toward stock, popular entertainment solutions supplied by third-party vendors. Among the earliest of the themed restaurants to become known more for family entertainment than food was Chuck E. Cheese's, a pizza restaurant founded in 1977 in San Jose, California.
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