Culture / Entertainment

New Virtual Reality Playlands Hit Fort Worth and Dallas — Step Into the Sandbox

The VR You Always Wanted

BY // 06.23.22

Sandbox, a new virtual reality playground, is already open in Austin’s Domain mixed-use development and another just landed in Fort Worth’s Crockett Row at 2956 Crockett Street. Fort Worth’s new Sandbox sits just across from another fun and games lounge, Voice Box Karaoke. Next up, Dallas will get to step into its own new Sandbox at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane starting this Friday, June 24.

First launched in Hong Kong in June of 2017, these rapidly expanding virtual playgrounds can now be found throughout Asia and Canada. Sandbox is spreading fast across America and will hit Europe soon with openings planned for London and Alsfeld, Germany.

Check-in and suit up for action at Sandbox in Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas.

Star Trek fans have long been fascinated by out-of-this-world technology. Since Star Trek first aired in 1966, some of the inventions the show imagined have, in fact, boldly gone “where no man has gone before.”

Many of those fanciful once fictional devices are realities today ― flip communicators, GPS tracking and voice interfacing tablet computers among them. But we’re still waiting for some of them. Like warp drives, transporter beams and holodecks where your own imagination brings things to life ― the ultimate in virtual reality.

That’s why when the first virtual reality games came to market, they did not meet my inflated expectations. We were promised an immersive holodeck-type experience. What we got were YouTube videos of grandma tripping over the coffee table with her VR mask on. It was funny but uninspiring.

Sandbox founder and CEO Steve Zhao and president and chief product officer Siqi Chen are pushing the technology to its limits, building on the holodeck dream. They have plans to bring a Sandbox to every major city someday soon, if not every neighborhood.

Elizabeth Anthony

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“On the 16th floor of a back-alley high-rise in Hong Kong, the company that is now known as Sandbox VR was born,” Zhao says.

Sandbox puts gamers into the action in a new way with full movement.

With less than a million dollars invested, Zhou’s team attempted to reinvent the meaning of the virtual reality experience. They developed a real-time multiplayer technology to capture, animate and render people with full-body motion. Designing a 30-minute full body, free roaming VR experience, they constructed the first brick-and-mortar Sandbox environment.

At Sandbox, you can choose your experience from the pirate fantasy Curse of Davy Jones to the scare-fest Dead Wood Mansion to the futuristic Amber Sky 2088. You book a time with up to six other people, where you’ll begin by suiting up and getting training before stepping into your “sandbox” for a 30-minute full-body, full-movement VR experience. That’s followed by a fun debrief, where you can relive the excitement together.

Virtual reality is taking some big steps forward. Next stop ― the holodeck.

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