Dave & Buster's: Peek inside new International Drive arcade-bar-restaurant
I'm just back from a preview of the new Dave & Buster's, the bar-restaurant-arcade attraction on International Drive set to open to the public Monday. Previously on the site -- seen from Interstate 4 -- was the distinctive Race Rock restaurant, which was preceded by Caruso's Palace.
This is the 58th D&B for the Dallas-based chain, with other Florida outlets in Jacksonville and Hollywood. The last time I was at a Dave & Buster's, I was in chaperone mode, but that umpteen years ago and it's all a flashing-light blur.
It's also been a while since I've spent quality time in an arcade. This D&B has 170 games in its "Million Dollar Midway" -- lots of "driving" simulators and games of chance. I noticed a slew of branded activities, including ones based on "Wheel of Fortune," Monopoly, the Star Wars trilogy, "The Simpsons," NASCAR and "The Fast and the Furious" ... not to mention a game based on an abandoned theme park and killer clowns. More on that later.
There's also low-tech options such as skeeball and basketball competitions.
At the top of the stairs is the bar, for folks 21 and up. There's no "ground level" to the I-Drive D&B -- there's parking beneath the establishment, making for a total of 300 parking spots. The bar is situated between the restaurant and the arcade areas (background).
Also absent from this outlet are billiards and bowling. General manager Paul Clunan said they sacrificed those activities in favor of parking but that the building was constructed to support another level on top of what was built if they decide to expand. (Remember, Race Rock's structure was demolished).
The restaurant side is away from the arcade, so you don't *have* to be in the center of the action while eating.
An unusual offering is a high-top table with built-in tap. A waitperson keys in how much beer your group wants to purchase, and then the customers pour their own as needed, in the preferred quantity -- pint or half-pint, for instance.
In the back corner is the Winner's Circle, where winning tickets from select games can be cashed in for prizes. The range of booty goes from candy to plush toys to iPods to electric guitars to Sony Playstations. Top prize requires 73,000 tickets.
There's a wide array of games, and Clunan said they stay as current as possible. Here's Fruit Ninjas, which began life as an iPod app and now has a standalone arcade version. (Elsewhere: a modernized virtual version of Lawn Darts, touted as " the world's most dangerous game.")
Also old-school-meets-new-school: Operation.
OK, back to Frightfearland, the game based on killer clowns and an abandoned amusement park. (Did we see this on an episode of "Scooby-Doo"?) Even my anti-gun self couldn't resist the two-person rifle game that challenges players to save 100 hostages and pick off devious clowns armed with dynamite and other weapons.
The game is marked "animated violence mild." It advises to aim for the clown heads.
As it turns out, I'm pretty good at gunning down clowns, Bozo. When the scene shifted to the "Coffee Cups" ride (ahem), it got a little too real for me: the clowns were in the spinning cups with the hostages. I felt bad for causing the accidental deaths of the tourists -- they hadn't even run their double-wide strollers into me.
Odds and ends to know about the Dave & Buster's on International Drive:
+ If traveling south on I-Drive, it's located just past the Olive Garden.
+ Tip for using your Power Card to play: The stripe is always up.
+ Operating hours will be 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
+ The top game in D&Bs across the country is Big Bass Wheel, a cross of fishing and casino.
+ 300 people were hired for the Orlando Dave & Buster's location.
+ There are several options for meeting rooms, used for events such as corporate team-building.
+ Website: www.daveandbusters.com.
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.