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Kristina Rowe

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

Kristina Rowe

Two players play a midway game at Two Bit Circus by throwing balls at a screen displaying vitrual balloons.

Two Bit Circus

Kristina Rowe

The VIP Lounge at Two Bit Circus.

Two Bit Circus

arcade

The Arcade at Two Bit Circus offers classic, late-model, and custom game experiences.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Dr. Botcher's Mini Medical School is one of several themed story rooms at Two Bit Circus in Dallas.

Kristina Rowe

Two Bit Circus

two bit circus

Between gaming rounds, players can grab a seat at the bar.

Kristina Rowe

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.

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'Freaks' Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper parade through Dallas on 2023 tour

Shock Rockers on the Road

Shock rockers Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper have made plans for the 2023 "Freaks on Parade Tour," which will kick off in Dallas at Dos Equis Pavilion on Thursday, August 24.

Taking place over the course of one month, the tour will hit 19 cities in both the United States and Canada. The Dallas stop is the only date in Texas scheduled. Ministry and Filter will serve as supporting acts in all cities.

This is the second year for Freaks on Parade Tour, which saw Zombie team up with Mudvayne in 2022 for stops in Austin, Fort Worth, and Houston.

Both Zombie and Cooper have had long and successful careers. Zombie has released seven albums in his 25-year career, most recently 2021's The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, with each reaching the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. Cooper has released music in seven different decades, debuting in 1969. His most recent release was 2021's Detroit Stories.

Tickets for the tour go on sale starting Friday, February 3 at 10 am on livenation.com. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Tuesday, January 31 at 10 am until Thursday, February 2 at 10 pm through the Citi Entertainment program.

2023 FREAKS ON PARADE TOUR DATES:

  • Thu Aug 24 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion
  • Sat Aug 26 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
  • Sun Aug 27 – West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
  • Tue Aug 29 – Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
  • Wed Aug 30 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
  • Fri Sep 01 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
  • Sat Sep 02 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
  • Tue Sep 05 – Clarkston, MI – Pine Knob Music Theatre
  • Wed Sep 06 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage
  • Fri Sep 08 – Scranton, PA – The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
  • Sat Sep 09 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
  • Sun Sep 10 – Hartford, CT – The XFINITY Theatre
  • Tue Sep 12 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
  • Sat Sep 16 - Englewood, CO - Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre
  • Tue Sep 19 – Ridgefield, WA – RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater
  • Wed Sep 20 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
  • Fri Sep 22 – Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion
  • Sat Sep 23 – Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
  • Sun Sep 24 – Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre

Photo courtesy of Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie headlines the Freaks on Parade for a second year in a row.

Winter storm watch issued for North Texas and more Dallas news

City News Roundup

In this roundup of Dallas news, DFW is girding itself for an imminent winter weather event, condemning a brutal death in Memphis, banning TikTok, and waving goodbye to an old-school technology.

Here's what's happening in Dallas this week:

Winter weather
The weather is going to be bad this week. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued across North Texas, beginning Monday January 30 through Wednesday February 1. They're predicting freezing rain, sleet, and ice, with roads becoming most hazardous on Tuesday January 31. TxDOT has already begun pre-treating the roads, and the National Weather Service recommends avoiding travel unless necessary.

Tyre Nichols RIP
Police departments in North Texas and across the U.S. released statements condemning the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who was beaten by five Memphis police officers following a traffic stop on January 7; Nichols died in the hospital three days later. The Memphis PD released videos of the encounter on January 27. Demonstrations were held across the country including a vigil outside Dallas City Hall. The Atlantic posted a story about the ways that public officials have managed the aftermath to reduce violence. The five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — have been fired and charged with second-degree murder, assault and kidnapping.

TikTok ban
DISD has banned TikTok. Dallas students, teachers, and visitors can no longer access TikTok from school district devices and networks. A DISD official issued a statement said the move is in response to cybersecurity concerns that said “experts believe the cybersecurity risk stems from the belief that TikTok’s parent company tracks data from users — including when, where and how a person uses the internet — that could be used to share sensitive information and ultimately harm our IT infrastructure."

DISD joins a number of Texas universities who've also banned TikTok, including UT Dallas, UNT, UT Arlington, and UT Austin. In 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott banned state employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices, joining a growing number of states.

Landlines going away
Old-school landline phones are on their way out. In August 2022, the FCC ended a requirement for companies to provide copper landline services. Among major cities, Dallas has the least number of landlines, found in 16 percent of homes. Their demise is anticipated to affect small business owners, people over 65, people with Parkinson's disease who can’t use a smartphone, or people who need a back-up phone.

Nickelback's upcoming tour stop rocks this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Juggernaut rock band Nickelback is touring summer 2023 with stop in Dallas. Nickelback is back: Canadian-born rock juggernaut Nickelback is going on tour in summer 2023 to support their new album, Get Rollin'. Called the "Get Rollin’ Tour," it'll hit 38 cities, including Dallas on July 22 at Dos Equis Pavilion.

2. Behind the wall of greenery and other Dallas restaurant must-haves. If you're a Dallas restaurant in 2023, you're nowhere without a wall of greenery. Walls covered with greenery are among the features restaurants are deploying these days to lure in diners. Food is still the official reason people go out to eat, but restaurants these days are more experience-oriented. Here are few features being rolled out at restaurants around town.

3. Affluent Dallas neighbor cashes in as the richest city in Texas for 2023. North Texans wanting a glimpse into the lives of the 1 percent won't have to travel far to get a peek. Southlake has been named the richest city in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

4. South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas' Oak Cliff slings perfect pies in pizza desert. Dallas has plenty of pretty pizza these days — but nearly all of it is found north of I-30. So let's hear it for South Polk Pizzeria, a new shop that opened in late December in Oak Cliff, at 3939 S. Polk St #527, just off US-67 and north of Loop 12, slinging the same kind of artisanal pies that are being slung across Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and North Dallas.

5. 12 Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations. The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. A dozen Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants have been included in both national and regional categories. Here are the nominees.