The future of amusement parks has arrived.
Something big is coming to LA—and it isn’t the dark and dreary Chuck E Cheese’s you may remember growing up as a kid. It also isn’t your local VR arcade of today either, which is often focused on screening individual VR games, an approach reminiscent of going to the movie theater.
What’s coming to Los Angeles is Two Bit Circus’ new micro-amusement park—and it’s purpose built for everyone.
Located in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, location-based entertainment company Two Bit Circus has taken over 38,000 square feet of wide open warehouse space to build what could be the future of amusement parks.
At first glance, its a massive space with high ceilings and separate entertainment zones. There’s a zone for arcade games, a bar for mixed cocktails, a group of escape rooms, a concession stand, and a 100 person theater. But taking a closer look, none of the features of this micro-amusement park are ordinary.
The arcade, dubbed “The Midway,” has familiar carnival games. But these games are multi-player social experiences that rely on physical exertion and often utilize motion sensing input devices—updating these games for modern times. For example, there’s a Balloon Pop carnival game that has you throwing physical balls, but instead of actual balloons to pop, it’s a projection mapped screen of balloons.
The Two Bit Circus approach to escape rooms is unique in its own way as well. The popular group trend of working together to achieve a common goal has gotten an immersive and interactive spin. The park features what they’re calling “Story Rooms,” one of which will have you strap on a PC backpack and HTC Vive to raft down a river with virtual weapons. The co-op VR experience was built in collaboration with StarbreezeVR, letting you move freely untethered in the escape room space with four others, all of you trying to stay afloat and alive.
Adjacent to the “Story Rooms” also sits “Asterion Modulemaze.” The 6x4 meter physical maze has you navigating tight quarters while wearing a PC backpack and HTC Vive VR headset.
And if VR escape rooms and mazes aren’t your thing, Two Bit Circus also has an entire VR Arena section of the park. The Arena includes a multiplayer tower to tower snowball fight experience, four motion platform VR pods for racing, as well as four traditional VR stations with a selection of games.
Another one of my favorite parts of the park are four VR cabanas that have the feel of entering your own Karaoke room in Koreatwon. With comfy couches, you can fit a group of friends and cycle through whatever VR content you want on a HTC Vive. The primary use case is for one person to be in VR while friends sit and watch the game (and often play/interact) on a large projection screen while enjoying food and drinks. This is a feature that has solely been lacking from most VR arcades—making it more social.
Considering this is the future of amusement parks, don’t expect a normal bar or theater either. The bar has a Robot Bartender. That’s right, the Robot Bartender is an aesthetic wonder, made up of authentic, functional mechanisms that work together to craft distinctive drinks to put on an entertaining show. The 100-person theater connects 46 touch-enabled tables to the stage and host. The interactions via touch are shared on stage bringing the audience together to play. The host can decide whether to ‘show the room’ or spotlight individuals. At launch, there will be three shows you can join, including a Trivia Game Show, a Tasting Game, and Werewolf Village.
Much like an arcade, you carry your tokens or money on a card that can be scanned at each station or game in order to play. You can expect on average to spend roughly $50, $25 for food and beverage and $25 for entertainment. The average cost of games varies around $1 - $3 and attractions around $10-$15.
With over 28 VR experiences and some of the most whacky entertainment attractions you’ll ever see, there’s something for everyone here. While VR entertainment centers like IMAX VR are closing down spaces in New York and Singapore, Two Bit Circus is coming in to push the boundaries of what’s possible for a location-based entertainment space.
Kids entering Two Bit Circus today will think this is the standard for amusement parks—of course attractions should be social, robots should prepare your drinks, and games should be in virtual reality. Never will they know the days of “a kid being a kid” crying in a corner while an adult dressed as a mouse terrorizes you with pizza and soda.
Two Bit Circus is located at 634 Mateo Street and opens September 5th.