The circus is coming to town - a Two Bit Circus to be exact.
A brand new "Micro-Amusement Park" located in downtown Los Angeles' arts district set to open September 7 is the brainchild of CEO Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman, who says they think their brand new VR-facility is going to be the future of amusement parks.
"Remember the old throw the darts at the balloons? That's this plus candy crush," Bushnell says with a smile on his face.
The carnival-themed high-tech attraction is a mix of technological and theater experiements that grew out of a successful electronic festival the owners first brought to L.A. in 2014. The facility is a celebration of all things Virtual Reality, where guests can enjoy custom escape rooms, re-imagined arcade games (ever wanted to pilot your own tank in Battlezone? Here you can!), plus, free-roaming VR and even a live, interactive game show.
"We've done a traveling carnival for years, we've done our own pop-up attractions at the Superbowl and the Olympics, so we've done lots of stuff in front of the public, but this is the first time opening our doors at a permanent site," Bushnell told KFI News.
The site, which can accommodate around 800 people at once, includes several different 'districts' within the park, a feature that invites comparisons to larger competitors like Disneyland.
"The idea is small compared to Disneyland, but still huge for an entertainment place, and like an amusement park, it's broken up into lots of different zones," Bushnell said.
The "Micro-Amusement Park" located in downtown LA isn't just for kids. Adults are more than welcome to come in to shoot at virtual bad guys or even order an adult beverage from the appropriately named robot bartender, Guillermo del Pouro.
Bushnell also teased that there's far more to the facility than just a fun time playing virtual reality games. He says the entire facility is intended to run like a long-running immersive theater production where actors and the audience share the stage. Guests are encouraged to try and discover the secret rooms, hallways, and rewards that are available.
"We have a whole futuristic carnival midway, what we call 'story rooms' - our versions of escape rooms - a 100-seat interactive game show theater, a whole 'secret inventor lab' and all sorts of other fun," Bushnell said.
Admission to Two Bit Circus is free, but playing the games requires guests to buy a tap card they can use as they try the various games that are available there. Many of the games are designed for at least two people, so you'll want to bring a friend along to experience the full potential of the micro-amusement park.
"You put this device on your face and you literally are transported to another world," Bushnell said. "You can do everything from having a snowball fight in the middle of the summer, to ride on a roller coaster - it's amazing immersive technology."
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Bill Nye the Science Guy were on hand Thursday to help officially launch the brand new theme park.
"Humans have invented games to use our brains in new ways to come up with new ideas, to create things. Everything you see here came out of someone's head, and I guarantee you all, will create something no one has ever heard of," Nye said.
Two Bit Circus opens its doors to the public, Friday, September 7th.