I used to love the circus as a kid. The sights, the smells, the entire atmosphere was enthralling and intriguing to me. But as I got old, the circus of old held less of a hold on my heart. It was replaced with high-tech video games and new adventures. Now, as an adult, I kind of miss what it used to be. But what if there was a way to fuse the two; take a bit of the circus of the golden era and mix it up with the technology we have today? The result, of course, is Two Bit Circus.
A few weeks ago, we were invited to a sneak peek of Two Bit Circus, which hit all the sweet spots for me. Imagine if you smashed together everything you loved about classic carnival games, circus performances, vintage arcade machines, and cutting edge technology into a new kind of social play space. This micro-amusement park was designed to encourage you to bring your friends and have a good time, but also play side-by-side with strangers as well, to make new friends.
While it wasn’t quite complete yet during our site visit in late July, Two Bit Circus was well on its way to becoming an entertainment powerhouse. Even just stepping into the building, where the interior was getting some finishing touches, was like stepping into an adult-oriented Chuck E. Cheese. Now, you may be thinking that we already have an adult version of that, in the form of Dave & Buster’s. However, Two Bit Circus is so much more than your typical, cheesy entertainment venue.
Our tour began with the midway, where they us about how they took some classic carnival games and gave them an updated and modern twist. For example, the old “throw a dart at the balloon” game is now completely digital, with guests throwing colored, plastic balls at a screen in order to earn points. Another new game involved giant balls acting as controllers around a central screen, allowing people to direct a ball on screen, in order to knock their opponents off. Furthering the social aspect, many games almost require two people to play a side, such as the train race, allowing you to recruit folks near-by to join in. This allows for making new friends. A very cool concept overall. The games we played were a lot of fun, and definitely gave a new twist on some old favorites. They are also designed in such a way where new versions and new games can easily be swapped in and out.
From there, we were lead into their Story Rooms, which had traditional escape room offerings, along with VR games as well. While they were not operational yet, what we saw was INCREDIBLY impressive. I cannot wait to go back to play their mine-themed escape room, because the attention to detail was unbelievable. They also showed us their star ship room, where a team of people worked together, in different roles, to command a ship in outer space. This episodic game has multiple stories, and even allows you to change roles to get a new look at ones you’ve played before. One of their VR offerings was set in the bayou, and the physical sets reflected that perfectly. Even for a VR game, when stepping into the room it is housed, you actually feel like you ARE stepping into New Orleans. I can’t wait to check that one out either.
Another VR area housed private rooms, so you and your party could relax and enjoy games at your own leisure, along with bottle service. Hell, you could even sing a few rounds of karaoke, too! In addition, there are other VR games nearby for people to play, including single and multiplayer games, to test your skills.
If a larger group setting is more your thing, Club 101 features live “games” that include everyone in attendance. With multiple voting stations at each table, this room is ripe for trivia games, and so much more. The demo they allowed us to play really showcased the incredible amount of things you could do in there, and really had me looking forward to trying to full version.
Traditional arcade machines, including some old favorites, are located in the middle of the building, along with games created by some of the Two Bit Circus staff. My son played a game featuring waffles for almost an hour when we visited, and loved how simple, yet fun, it was. The faculty also has a wonderful bar for those of you inclined to test out some alcohol beverages, along with a robotic bartender who will mix your drinks and put on a show. An eatery is also on hand for when you’re feeling peckish.
For those looking for a little more adventure, Two Bit Circus also offers something they call ‘meta-games’, which can last from anywhere from an hour to many weeks long. These immersive stories start at the old-school quarter machines, where instead of a plastic toy or sticky hand, you begin your quest. To me, that adds a lot of replay value to things, and really adds a new depth that those looking for more can jump into.
Two Bit Circus has their corporate offices on site, along with a workshop in back, so they are dedicated to constantly trying and testing new things. If one of their staff has an idea, they could theoretically have an prototype out on the floor within hours for the public to beta test. I love that concept, and think it’s a really neat thing for them to do. It allows for a constant tinkering, and lets their designers really set loose to try new things.
I’ve been following the progress of Two Bit Circus for almost a year now, and I was impressed with their (almost) final product. I really loved how, during the day, families can come and play for a great outing, and at night, it’s basically an adult theme park. While it is free to enter, the overall costs really depend on what you want to do, and what games you want to play. Overall, though, the place was incredibly impressive, and I cannot wait to check it out for myself!
After months of waiting, the park will be open to the public on September 7th, 2018 at 4pm PT. To help celebrate, they’re having a ‘Sneak Peek Sale’ on playing cards right now where you can get $50 worth of play for only $25. Each can be used at the park Monday through Friday throughout September. More details can be found here: https://twobitcircus.centeredgeonline.com/movie/movies
For more information on Two Bit Circus, you can visit them online at: https://twobitcircus.com/