Ever wonder what your life would have been like if your dad had created Chuck E. Cheese? You'd grow up to create micro amusement parks. Brent Bushnell is the son of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell and learned his amusement entrepreneurial ways from his dad. He is the co-founder of the experiential entertainment company Two Bit Circus, which has a focus on learning about technology fun.
Today, Two Bit Circus announced that they have closed $15 million in Series B funding to go toward creating what they are calling a "micro-amusement park." Each park will be an entertainment center of about 30,000 square feet and will contain a variety of amusement park and entertainment options, including "multi-person virtual reality and mixed reality games, social play experiences, group games, molecular gastronomy and mixology." In today's release, Two Bit Circus was sure to point out that the new facilities would include "liberal use of lasers, fire and robots."
"Out of home entertainment hasn't changed much since laser tag and mini-golf. The latest tech has just blown the doors open on a whole new world; changed what it means to play, and play together socially. People stress about tech pushing people apart, but we love watching it bring people together!" said Brent Bushnell.
In a typical business venture, it would seem odd that a company CTO would sport a mohawk, but Bushnell's business partner, Eric Gradman, is not your typical businessman. He too has a love for technology but he sees it as magic, which is fitting since Gradman has a history of working as a circus performer, professional whistler, roboticist, and inventor. He sees the company's plans for micro amusement parks as the next big thing.
The investment for the new project was led by JAZZ Venture Partners, with participation from all existing investors: Foundry Group, Techstars Ventures, and Intel Capital. New investors include Dentsu Ventures, Georgian Pine, and others.
"In the past, Two Bit Circus' installations have been temporary and held primarily at large events and conferences. We're thrilled to build our first permanent location in our backyard. Our band of scientists, artists, storytellers, and performers are excited to bring to life a world of year-round fun," said Gradman, the self-described "Mad Inventor."
Each new micro amusement park is said to feature the latest in high-tech entertainment and could be an ideal anchor tenant for malls reeling from the recent closures of big box stores. There is no official opening date for the new park, but the plan will open later this year. Curious fans can sign up to request access to the circus' private beta nights to test out the new attractions, but this offer comes with a warning.
"Our attorneys require us to disclose that such bugs may include, but are not limited to, singed eyebrows, robot uprisings and accidental violations of physics," the co-founders joked.
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In recent years, Two Bit Circus has created temporary original virtual reality experiences that have been presented at large events like the Super Bowl and Olympics. One project, Star Labs Mobile Research Unit, was used to promote the CW's hit TV show The Flash throughout Los Angeles and Las Vegas. All "test subjects," including actor Grant Gustin who plays Barry Allen on the series, were given an ID card that tracked their results of the various tests that measured their abilities with speed reading, high-speed projectile evasion, and pupillary light reflex. Guests were also treated to see things how The Flash see things when he is moving at hyper speed.
Another experience created by Two Bit Circus was the Space Squad "story room," where guests were treated to 20 minute long sessions of action-based challenges that were similar to "escape rooms" but instead, it was a mission to save the universe. No big deal.
[Featured Image by Two Bit Circus]