The newest addition to Dallas shopping at Park Lane isn’t the average carnival.
Two Bit Circus presents itself as a micro-amusement park filled with virtual reality and arcade games and interactive story rooms. The people behind the concept took The Dallas Morning News during a private viewing this week of the 35,000 square foot space on the mall’s second level as it prepares to open to the public on Friday.
“Everyone needs a little fun in their life,” said Kim Schaefer, president of Two Bit Circus. “That’s what we’re really looking for at Two Bit Circus, is to bring people together to come play, socialize and have a good time.”
Guests are immediately greeted by a large sign that reads “MIDWAY,” a not-so-subtle welcome to the amusement park that awaits them. There are digital games that replicate what a real carnival would have, mostly multiplayer games that keep guests active during the experience.
It’s a model focused on “crushing the digital and the physical,” said chief technology officer Eric Gradman. He said most of the games were developed in-house, but some were curated.
“We want people to look each other in the eye and have a good time,” Gradman said. “You don’t look at people through a screen. We had two years. »
It is the second entertainment venue for Two Bit Circus, which started in Los Angeles in 2018. The past few years have allowed the Two Bit Circus team to assess “what works and what doesn’t”, when they thought of the Dallas location. , said Andy Levey, Marketing Director of Two Bit Circus.
“What we’ve found is that Midway is just about one of the best, most satisfying, and most revenue-generating attractions out there, simply because of the flow and the fun, unique carnival games,” said Levey.
Dallas is a long-established proving ground for entertainment concepts, with pioneers such as Dave and Buster’s and Main Event getting their start locally.
One of Gradman’s favorite parts of Two Bit Circus is the story rooms. Think of an escape room, but the puzzle to be solved is a multiplayer game or even surgery.
“Escape rooms can scare people to death,” Gradman said. “In these rooms, we try to make you laugh as hard as possible.”
For example, in “Doctor Botcher’s Minute Medical School”, four to six players can rummage around an operating table with a patient for a hospital-themed experience. Story rooms cost $20 per player.
There are also VR multiplayer games where guests can don headsets and use handheld controllers to play games against each other. Virtual reality games range from $8 to $18.
A single-player card costs $35 per person, which patrons can use for any story room and for everything in the arcade, including food and drink. The food is similar to its Los Angeles location, with plenty of “state fair” type choices, including some with a Texan kick.
Those 21 and older can head to the full bar, which serves Texas beers. There are 12 draft beers and seven house cocktails at the bar. There is also a drink-making robot. Cabanas are available for sporting events, work outings or other private events.
Two Bit Circus has several investors from Texas, including Erik Anderson, former executive chairman of Dallas-based Topgolf and Austin-based Capital Factory.
The Shops at Park Lane store has 45 employees and is looking to fill a further 20 positions. The company, which has a total of 125 employees, is excited to make its mark in Dallas.
“You don’t have to be a gamer,” Schaefer said. “It’s really about coming to have a good time.”
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