- Press -

Micro-Amusement Park Two Bit Circus Readies for its Dallas Debut

Dallas Morning News

November 17, 2022

The newest addition to Dallas’ Shops at Park Lane isn’t the average carnival.

Two Bit Circus bills 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 on a private tour this week of the 35,000-square-foot space on the shopping center’s second level as it prepares to open to the public on Friday.

“Everybody needs a little fun in their life,” said Kim Schaefer, president of Two Bit Circus. “That’s what we really strive for at Two Bit Circus, is to bring people together elbow-to-elbow to come and play, to socialize and to have a great time.”

Guests are immediately greeted with a large sign that reads “MIDWAY,” a not-so-subtle welcome to the amusement park that awaits. There are digital games that replicate what an actual carnival would have, mostly multiplayer ones that make guests stay active during the experience.

It’s a model focused on “smashing the digital and the physical,” said chief technology officer Eric Gradman. He said most games were developed in-house, but some were curated. “We want people staring each other in the eye and having a good time,” Gradman said. “You’re not staring at people through a screen. We had two years of that.”

It’s the second entertainment venue for Two Bit Circus, which started in Los Angeles in 2018. The last few years have allowed the Two Bit Circus team to evaluate “what works and what doesn’t work,” when they were thinking about the Dallas location, said Andy Levey, marketing director for Two Bit Circus.

“What we found is that Midway is pretty much one of the best attractions, the highest satisfactory and highest revenue-generating just because of the flow and the fun, unique carnival games,” Levey said.

Dallas is a long-established testing ground for entertainment concepts, with early pioneers such as Dave and Buster’s and Main Event getting their starts locally.

One of Gradman’s favorite parts of Two Bit Circus is the story rooms. Think of an escape room, but the puzzle to solve is a multiplayer game or even a surgical operation. “Escape rooms can scare people to death,” Gradman said. “In these rooms, we’re trying to make you laugh as hard as possible.”

For example, in “Doctor Botcher’s Minute Medical School,” four to six players can poke around an operating table with a patient for a hospital-themed experience. Story rooms cost $20 a player. There are also virtual reality multiplayer games where guests can put on a headset and use handheld controllers to play games against one another. Virtual reality games range from $8 to $18. A single-gamer card costs $35 a person, which patrons can use toward any of the story rooms and anything else in the arcade, including food and beverage. The food is similar to its Los Angeles location, with lots of “state fair” type choices, including some with a Texas kick to them.

Those 21 and over can head to the full bar, which serves some Texas brews. There are 12 beers on draft and seven house cocktails at the bar. There’s 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 Dallas-based Topgolf’s former executive chairman Erik Anderson and Austin’s Capital Factory.

The Shops at Park Lane location has 45 employees and is looking to fill 20 more positions. The company, with 125 employees in total, 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.”