White Rabbit VR arcade opening at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines


The White Rabbit Virtual Reality Arcade premieres at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines later this summer.

Originally in downtown Jordan Creek, the venue’s new location adds to the Des Moines Mall’s efforts to change the brand as an entertainment destination. It joins an arcade, a bowling alley, a selfie museum and a cinema on the to-do list in addition to shopping at the Merle Hay Mall. The mall is also seeking state tax funds to help with the planned conversion of an empty department store into a new hockey rink for the Des Moines Buccaneers.

“We found that they had a drastic change to become an entertainment complex and we thought it would be very appropriate for us and for them,” said White Rabbit co-owner Ben Houk.

The new arcade location, which opens on July 9, will feature four virtual reality areas, each with VR headsets and handheld controllers, as well as haptic vests that will allow players to feel the action. Customers pay for their game time and choose from a catalog of 20 games and experiences, ranging from roller coasters to laser games to being Batman.

“In virtual reality, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. You’re not just playing a game in front of you, it’s like you’re in the same game,” Houk said. “We’ve all spent the last year more or less living in a reality we wish we could escape, and for everyone who visits The White Rabbit, they can now do exactly that.”

The white rabbit was originally located in the center of Jordan Creek in West Des Moines, opening just two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic closed most stores in March 2020. It reopened there in June, but the owners decided to close the end of 2020 and revalue their plans.

Declining coronavirus cases and increased vaccinations caused The White Rabbit to find a new spot earlier than expected, Houk said.

Month: The Des Moines Buccaneers hockey team moves to the new 3,500-seat court at Merle Hay Mall

The arcade will be located in a 1,200-square-foot space near the escalators leading to Flix Brewhouse. The movie theater was temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to announce when it will reopen.

White Rabbit VR Arcade hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Prices range from $ 15 for 15 minutes to $ 30 for 60 minutes. Accessories are accepted and reservations can be made online at TheWhiteRabbitVR.com.

Month: Southridge Mall is now the gaming hub, a virtual reality setting to “resemble” empty space

Kim Norvell covers the growth and development of the Registry. Contact knorvell@dmreg.com or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.

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