I remember a few years ago when the bar-arcade hybrid became a trend. I was living in Denver and someone told me to check out this place that had old renovated arcade cabinets and had a great selection of beers. I fell in love with the place. My friends and I would go and play Donkey Kong, Centipede, Galaga, but the crown jewel wasn’t a renovated cabinet from 1983, it was a brand new version of Pac-Man called Battle Royale. I can’t tell you how many quarters that machine took from me but I drank my fair share of beers while trying to eat ghosts and pellets as Pac-Man. It was one of those joyous, blissful memories with friends. Something I’ve always cherished…and because of that I love the “Barcade”.
So why all of the lead up? Because when I walked into the brand new Two Bit Circus I felt that same sense of joy. Yes, they also have Battle Royale Pac-Man, but they also have so many other games and activities that fit why Battle Royale is so good. Its about creating moments with others instead of playing by yourself. There is a dedicated area to arcade cabinet style games but many of them are set up to be played with another person, to compete, to have a cocktail, to laugh, and to have fun.
Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman have created a space in LA’s art district that is 100% unique and original. This place is much more than an arcade. They’ve labeled it a micro amusement park and it certainly feels like something Disney could build but never did. In fact, if your a Disney fan you might remember Innoventions at Epcot or Disneyland and possibly how disappointed you were with it as a concept. Well, it seems like Bushnell and Gradman succeeded where Disney couldn’t.
Two Bit Circus is the high tech, innovative, interactive experience you should consider planning a trip to. Entry costs nothing and you can decide what you play and when you play it. There are the arcade cabinets like I mentioned previously, but there are also VR experiences galore as well as escape rooms. There is also a full-service bar, a counter service eatery, a lounge area, and for those willing to fork over a few extra dollars, a steampunk robot that will make your drink for you.
Beyond playing a bit of Pac-Man with a few others (and definitely not winning) I got to try out some of the VR experiences. Some are played solo, some with a group with all varying in time length and pricing, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to put on a headset and enter a different world this is a great place to do it. They have such a variety of experiences that there is something for everyone. I, myself, got to pet cute dragons and play fetch with them for 10 minutes in an extremely cartoon-like world. As ridiculous as that sounds, I had a smile on my face the whole time. I also got to tour the two escape room experiences. One has a Lost in Space feel while the other feels like an updated version of Legends of the Hidden Temple.
The atmosphere within the 5,000-square-foot space feels fun as well. This old warehouse really feels like you are transported away from Los Angeles and into some Ready Player One style Oasis. Two Bit Circus is a paradise for gamers and non-gamers alike and whether you are a local or just visiting LA, I would put this on a bucket list of places to visit and spend an evening.