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Shops at Park Lane attracts Los Angeles micro-amusement park Two Bit Circus

The Dallas Morning News

March 14, 2022

Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles micro-amusement park, is opening this fall in the Shops at Park Lane, adding an entertainment dimension to the off-price shopping center anchored by outlets from Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Saks.

It’s only the second location for the interactive entertainment venue, and the site is just south of Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s location on North Central Expressway and next door to the corporate headquarters of Topgolf.

“The wonderful thing about an entertainment venue is if folks come by a few times a year, even if we’re next to a Dave & Buster’s, we lift each other up,” said Brent Bushnell, chairman of Two Bit Circus.

Two Bit Circus will take up a large, 35,000-square-foot space on the second level of the shopping center to house its custom-designed arcade games, tech-enhanced carnival games, virtual reality experiences and an interactive game show theater. Its “story rooms” add technology to the classic escape room. The restaurant menu includes “molecular mixology” drinks and classic carnival food. Some of the bartenders are robots.

Two Bit Circus has several investors from Texas, including Dallas-based Topgolf former executive chairman Erik Anderson and Austin’s Capital Factory.

His company’s biggest competitors, Bushnell said, “are apathy and Netflix. We just want people to come out and have fun.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods left the Shops at Park Lane in 2019 to move just north of Park Lane in space vacated by Toys R Us. Dick’s wanted to create a combo store with its Golf Galaxy.

The two-level Dick’s space was carved up, and Champs Sports is on the street level, where a couple more spaces are about to be leased, said Ward Kampf, president of Northwood Retail, which owns and operates the Shops at Park Lane.

Kampf said he wanted to bring in either a retailer not already in the market or an entertainment concept.

He flew out to Los Angeles in June 2019 to see Two Bit Circus, which had only been open a year.

“We kept talking through the pandemic and they survived through it, in Los Angeles, which had brutal rules,” he said. “Customers had to leave their drinks outside.”

Kampf said Dallas has strong demographics of people who enjoy such entertainment and helped Dave & Buster’s, Topgolf and Plano-based Main Event Entertainment with their early growth.

“The team knows Dallas well and knew it was a great place to go next,” Kampf said.

Before they opened their own concept, Bushnell and Two Bit Circus co-founder Eric Gradman created installations for Dave & Buster’s. Two Bit Circus CEO Kim Schaefer is the former chief executive at Great Wolf Resorts, which has a large location in Grapevine.

Being across from NorthPark Center, which gets more than 26 million visitors a year, and near Southern Methodist University were both selling points for him, Bushnell said.

He’s been around gaming and amusement parks all his life. His father is Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Irving-based Chuck E. Cheese and co-founder of Atari.

Before opening their first Two Bit Circus, Bushnell and Gradman created interactive installations for events held by Google, Intel, the NFL and others.

Bushnell also worked on the ABC-TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and was responsible for one of YouTube’s best-known music videos. The Rube Goldberg music video for OK Go has more than 70 million views.

Two Bit Circus “is an extremely clever place,” Kampf said. “Everything in Dallas is getting elevated these days, including entertainment.”