If you like entertainment you can sink yourself into—from “full-body” virtual reality to mind-bending art trips to reimagined arcades—you’re in the right place. North Texas may be America’s greatest high-tech playground. Some of the latest concepts in immersive entertainment have gotten their first launches here, and our region has also attracted the first U.S. expansion of some of the U.K.’s most popular high-tech venues. Here’s a look at what’s waiting for you—one experience at a time.
Cosm is coming to wow you
Cosm, a leader in experiential media and immersive tech, is bringing one of its first two entertainment venues to Grandscape in The Colony—bridging the gap between virtual and physical realities with what it calls “shared reality.” Founded by Dallas’ Mirasol Capital in 2020, Cosm hired Dallas’ HKS to design the sprawling three-level venue, where an 87-foot LED screen will work wonders for up to 1,500 stunned spectators. Cosm’s proprietary dome and curved display tech will take you inside the action—from live sports and entertainment to experiential events, immersive art, music, and more. An L.A. venue is slated to open in 2024; there’s no confirmed date yet for the Grandscape opening.
Meow Wolf roars in
Meow Wolf is as strange, imaginative, and deliciously weird as its name implies. Millions have “portal hopped into worlds unknown” at its locations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver. Now a fourth, 40,000-square-foot Meow Wolf is opening this summer at the Grapevine Mills mall in Grapevine. Local artists are being recruited to help create “unreal, mind-bending narratives brought to life with never-before-imagined immersive art,” like Light Tunnel (above) from the Las Vegas location.
Celeb-backed Sandbox VR
At Sandbox VR, groups of up to six gear up in the “most immersive full-body VR” for action-packed metaverse experiences. Inspired by the Star Trek Holodeck—and now open in Dallas and Fort Worth—the local locations let you don a VR helmet and body gear and grab your virtual weapon to play one of six wildly interactive games. Built by EA, Sony, and Ubisoft veterans, Sandbox VR has attracted investors including Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Kevin Durant, and Will Smith.
Two Bit Circus is in town
Lions and tigers? Oh no. Two Bit Circus is a “micro-amusement park” with 35,000 square feet of tech-enhanced entertainment fusing interactivity with the “wonder and spectacle of classic circus and carnival.” It launched in L.A., and its second venue is now open in Dallas. Attractions include arcade games, multiplayer VR experiences, and “story rooms.” There’s even a robot bartender named Guillermo, plus “classic carnival eats” to go with the “molecular mixology.”
Activate Games brings live indoor action
Activate “takes entertainment into the future by fusing technology and physical activity together to create live-action gaming experiences.” Its six locations in Canada and the U.S. (including one coming soon in Plano) have up to 11 rooms with laser mazes, touch-activated climbing walls, arcade-style target walls, light-flashing basketball hoops, and more—with your score tracked by an RFID bracelet. The challenge: “Put your brain and body to the test.”
Electric Gamebox immerses groups in games
In Deep Ellum and Grandscape in The Colony, Electric Gamebox reinvents how video games are played with hyper-immersive games in digital smart rooms using projection mapping, touch screens, 3D motion tracking, and surround sound without headsets. Gaming pods host two to six players at a time.
Puttery puts a spin on mini-golf
Forget everything you know about mini-golf—the ho-hum windmill and the sad Astroturf. Puttery put its first “modern spin on mini-golf” at Grandscape in The Colony with four wildly creative 9-hole “golf courses” on two floors, three bars, an outdoor terrace, and multiple lounges and seating areas. The illusion course above still makes our head spin.
Puttshack is coming to play through
Dallas’ status as a “golf Mecca” continues to grow. Puttshack, a neon-lit, tech-infused mini golf experience with “global food and drink,” will enter the local market in summer 2023 with a two-story, 28,000-square-foot venue in Addison’s Village on the Parkway. Puttshack has four locations in the U.K. and opened its first U.S. locations in 2021 in Atlanta and Chicago. Co-founded in 2018 by Steve and Dave Jolliffe, the twin brothers who founded Topgolf, Puttshack will be joining the Dallas-area minigolf wars, taking on Puttery, But the more the merrier, right?
TOCA Social: interactive indoor soccer entertainment
Soccer lovers (and the soccer-curious) will have a new place to gather later in 2023, when the “socially competitive soccer entertainment experience” TOCA Social comes to the Dallas Design District. So far, the only other TOCA Social venue is at London’s live entertainment destination, The O2, attracting cast members from “Ted Lasso” and stars from U.K. soccer clubs. The Dallas location will be a three-floor, 56,000-SF experience of dining, drinks, and interactive soccer games in 34 “TOCA boxes”—with two upper decks featuring“bonkers” views of the Dallas skyline.
Fixation VR offers over 100 games & experiences
Fixation VR says it offers “the largest, most advanced VR arcade in Texas” at its location in Hurst. Designed for everyone from “VR newbies to VR enthusiasts,” Fixation offers over 100 games and experiences—from multiplayer action for up to 8 players to seated first-person views of what your friends are playing. “Precise, 360-degree controller and headset tracking, realistic graphics, and directional audio mean realistic movement and actions in the virtual world,” Fixation says. Its three most popular games? Zomday VR (above), Beat Saber, and SUPERHOT VR.
iFLY indoor skydiving
Want to go skydiving but don’t like the idea of jumping out of a plane? You’re in luck—iFLY offers indoor skydiving experiences inside state-of-the art vertical wind tunnels. Its locations in Frisco and Fort Worth let you gear up and experience the sensation of flying, while also offering field trips for STEM students and team-building private events. iFLY’s instructors are “elite athletes” who offer coaching classes for kids and adults, as well as supervising parties “to keep things safe—and fun!”
Lighthouse ArtSpace Dallas
You won’t need a secret handshake to get into the Masonic Temple in downtown Dallas. Now restored and renamed as Lighthouse ArtSpace Dallas, the historic East Quarter building has been turned into an arts and culture venue for the city of Dallas. It opened in 2021 with a bang: the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, a walkable wonderland inside the art of Vincent Van Gogh, with 500,000+ feet of surround video projections recreating his masterpieces on a colossal scale. Currently, it’s also showing the exhibit “Immersive Monet and The Impressionists” (above).
Immersive Sports ‘Eatertainment’
iCompete Experience is a sprawling, fully immersive “active sports eatertainment” concept that opened in early last year in Lewisville. It offers AR-enhanced golf and batting cage simulators, plus digitally scored darts, axe-throwing, and immersive tech billiards. Its main bar features a 20-foot LED TV, a mixology bar, and a 40-tap self-pour beer & wine wall. The hybrid sporting venue and sports bar is designed to be “a convergence of e-sports, augmented reality, simulation, and immersive technology.” It all comes with a “global menu” featuring tacos, flatbreads, wings, and sushi.
Shuffling into Deep Ellum
Shuffleboard used to be as old-school as it gets: a long, sandy wooden table with metal pucks rolling silently down to click their way to victory. That was before Electric Shuffle got ahold of it and turned it into a series of high-tech concept bars. Like other concepts on this list, Electric Shuffle got its start in the U.K. before seeking a home in America—and setting its sights squarely on Dallas-Fort Worth. The first U.S. location opened last fall at 2615 Elm Street in Deep Ellum. The bar-eaterie “reimagines” shuffleboard with “unparalleled vision technology” for an immersive, highly social experience. With several different competition areas on tap, teams of up to 16 players can compete in the three featured games.
Sixes Social Cricket
North Texas is quickly staking claim to be the capital of cricket in the U.S. It’s already the home of Major League Cricket’s Texas Super Kings and the nation’s first professional cricket stadium in Grand Prairie. Now U.K.-based Sixes Social Cricket plans to launch its first U.S. “immersive social experience” here this summer. The state-of-the-art upscale reimagines cricket for the modern social experience with tech-enabled batting nets alongside burgers, sharing plates, and wood-fired pizzas, as well as a full menu of classic cocktails, beer, wine, and shakes.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
A version of this story was originally published in Dallas Innovates 2023. The story was updated with information on Sixes Social Cricket on April 20, 2023, at 5:00 p.m.
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