Indoor amusement park with cheeky carnival twist makes Dallas debut
A fun entertainment venue with high-tech and old-school gaming has arrived in Dallas: Called Two Bit Circus, it's a concept from Los Angeles that combines a game arcade with virtual reality for groups and fans of all ages.
Two Bit was founded by Brent Bushnell (son of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) and Eric Gradman in 2018, who opened their first location in downtown Los Angeles. Dallas is their first expansion outside of California, and they're located at the Shops at Park Lane.
In anticipation of its November 18 opening day, Two Bit Circus president Kim Schaefer led media through a tour of the 35,000-square-foot space, promising that "you don't have to be into gaming, you just have to like to have fun."
"We want this to be a place where people put away their phones and enjoy time together," Shaefer said. "From families to dating couples to coworkers, it's fun for anyone from 8 to 58."
I really liked the mix of old and new and the tongue-in-cheek references to carnival things. Also, I'm not their typical customer, and I found it easy and inviting to play the games even though I'm not at all into gaming.
The space is broken down into areas that include:
The Midway boasts easy-to-play games where players can get physical such as the game where players throw balls at balloons to pop them, similar to the popular mobile game "Bejeweled." One game, "Mother Ducker," lets players steer large wheels to aim at targets on a duck pond; it's exclusive to the Dallas location.
The VR Arena, which uses virtual reality headsets to create an array of different worlds with a choice of robots, dragons, zombies, and more including single-player experiences such as "Birdly: Jurassic Park," which simulates flying. You lie down on a platform, don a VR headset, and move your arms to flap your "wings," soar, dive, and navigate potential obstacles on the landscape.
Story Rooms are like escape rooms but without the sense of dread or need to escape anything, and they engage everyone in your group, since each player must help the team complete the task.
Tasks might include performing surgery in Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School or a hilarious take on the "I Love Lucy" out-of-control candy factory line that will keep players laughing as they work at a breakneck pace to make candy.
Jelly Attack, another unique-to-Dallas experience, uses virtual reality but without headsets. Digital foes are projected on all four walls of the room, and since the action is projected around the room with no screen boundaries, the activity is especially accommodating for players using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
The Arcade includes classics like "Ms. Pac Man," "Centipede", "Street Fighter 2;" newer arcade games like "Killer Queen" and "Heavy Burger;" and some Two Bit Circus originals.
Food & Drink
The Arcade at Two Bit Circus offers classic, late-model, and custom game experiences.
Two Bit Circus
Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School is one of several themed story rooms at Two Bit Circus in Dallas.
Two Bit Circus
Between gaming rounds, players can grab a seat at the bar.
Two Bit Circus
The menu includes big-top classics like hot dogs, corny dogs, plus chicken tenders, a chicken sandwich, pizza by the slice, wings, burgers, fries, and nachos. Snacks include popcorn, pretzels, ice cream, and cotton candy.
A full bar complete with a robot bartender has cocktails plus a dozen beers on tap; a VIP lounge offers bottle service.
Location & Pricing
The venue is at 8303 Park Ln. #200, but I had a hard time finding the place, and apparently I wasn't the only one. The entrance is actually via a parking garage, but The Shops at Park Lane has multiple parking garages and entries, and if you pick the wrong one, Two Bit Circus is not easy to find.
The pricing is also confusing. They call everything a "package" but it's basically a cover charge, and for a single player, it starts at $35. In its simplest state, you'll buy a card with a value of $35, $50, or $100 (or $25 each for a family of four.) You wave the card over a pay pad on the games and you also use the card for food and drinks.
You'll almost certainly end up spending more money. And everyone has to buy a package, including parents who weren't planning on playing. The games may be easy to play, but figuring out how much credit you need and which package it fits into is more of a challenge than it needs to be.