Review: Dave & Buster's Million Dollar Midway DaveAndBusters

by: Kevin Fok, Evening MBA


What is it?

Dave & Buster's is a national chain of entertainment complexes. There is a D&B located right here in Michigan. Utica, to be exact. It is quite a trek from Ann Arbor, but it is worth visiting. You can think of D&B as a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, but geared for adults.


What is there?

D&B has a restaurant, two bars, a midway, pool tables, a golf simulator, and shuffleboard. Parties can also be held at The Showroom and events such as Mystery Dinner Theater and Karaoke can be scheduled.


The Visit:

I decided to check out the D&B Million Dollar Midway to see what types of arcade and midway games were available there. It is actually difficult to find good arcades in the Metro Detroit area, so I was curious as to what I would find at D&B. D&B does get rather crowded during Friday and Saturday nights. It can be difficult, though not impossible, to find a parking spot. The décor of the building is impressive and you definitely get the impression that you are entering a high-quality facility. The midway is by far the most popular area. Although pool tables and shuffleboard are available, there were not too many people playing these games, probably due to the relatively high prices.

In order to play the midway games, you must purchase a D&B Power Card. The card has a magnetic stripe, so you can recharge the card and play more games. Although it is convenient not to have to carry change around, the card system does mask the prices of the games. For example, if a game is 4.7 credits, you cannot quickly determine how much the game costs. Granted, you can determine how many credits there are per dollar and then calculate the dollar cost, but this is more complicated than just knowing that a game costs four quarters or $1. The midway primarily focuses on newer video games. There are a lot of duplicate machines for car racing simulators and motorcycle simulators. Most of the racing simulators are linked, so you can race against your friends and enemies. One of the more amusing games is the rafting simulator. For those who enjoy winter sports, several skiing and snowboarding simulators are available as well. In addition to the heavy focus on simulators, there are also a lot of "shoot 'em up" games as well. Some of the games are good, but others are too short in duration. Several of the shooting games went by too quickly and patrons felt like they were just wasting their money by playing the games. That is why some of the game machines are dormant; patrons know which games to stay away from.

The selection of pinball games available at D&B is somewhat limited. There were only four pinball games available. Considering the size of the facility, there should have been many more pinball games. The South Park pinball game was the best one. Pinball is always very popular in college towns, like Ann Arbor. But, as soon as you get into the suburbs, the popularity of pinball declines quite rapidly. I suppose D&B is merely catering to its customers' needs. However, the pinball tables were quite busy, so I think D&B may be underestimating the popularity of pinball.

For those who enjoy winning prizes, D&B has some games that allow you win tickets and trade them in for prizes. These games include Skeeball, basketball games, and a "Test Your Strength" game. There are also some other games of skill that allow you to win tickets as well. The quality range of prizes offered is large. Some prizes are merely trinkets, while other prizes are actually quite expensive. However, the high-end prizes tend to require plenty of tickets, so if you are going for the big prizes, be prepared to play a lot of Skeeball.


The Clientele:

D&B is family-friendly, although it does make an effort to appeal to adults. D&B has an age policy that requires minors to be accompanied by adults. You must be over 21 or be accompanied by an adult over 25 years old. After 10:30p.m., all patrons under 21 years old must leave. Although these policies are probably annoying to high school students, many adults favor the policies because it prevents D&B from being a "hangout". In the bars and restaurant, there is a good mix of younger and older adults. The bars are a good place to chat and relax. Most of the patrons there do not have "attitudes", so it is pretty friendly place.


The Verdict:

Overall, the D&B Million Dollar Midway is a fun place to visit. However, the arcade games tend to be a bit expensive and the types of games are somewhat limited. There are a lot of games to play, but many of them are quite similar. It would have been nice to see a blend of new and classic arcade games. The midway is suitable for occasional visits rather than weekly pilgrimages.


Coming Soon:

A return visit to D&B, but this time, to evaluate the Grand Dining Room, Viewpoint Bar, and Midway Bar.