Virtual reality company Sandbox VR to open facility in Dublin

Company plans to open leisure and recreation unit on Dawson Street with capacity for 120 customers

The virtual reality experience company Sandbox VR is to open an entertainment facility in Dublin complete with a robotic bartender called Toni.

The company already operates in 40 cities worldwide and its projected Irish outlet is confirmed in planning documents lodged with Dublin City Council, which reveal that Sandbox VR is to open a leisure and recreation unit on Dublin’s Dawson Street with capacity for 120 customers.

Established in 2016 in Hong Kong, the majority of Sandbox VR’s centres are based in the US, and the Dublin centre will be only its fourth European opening.

Early investors in Sandbox VR include Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake.


Kells ICAV has recently completed its seven-storey mixed-use scheme at the corner of Nassau Street and Dawson Street, and is seeking planned changes, including change of use to two permitted and constructed retail units at ground floor and lower ground floor to leisure and recreational use for the Sandbox investment to proceed.

According to a planning report lodged by planning consultants Declan Brassil & Co, “the Sandbox VR system provides an immersive and full body virtual reality experience using advanced wireless haptic hardware and real time motion tracking/capture technology, coupled with software and operating systems”.

Mr Brassil describes Sandbox VR as “a global leader in location-based virtual reality (LBVR) entertainment”, and said that what is proposed “is unique in Ireland and will enhance the mix of uses in the completed building and the diversity and attractiveness of the leisure and recreation offering in the wider city centre during day and night”.

Mr Brassil said that Sandbox VR currently has seven high quality VR experiences for guests to choose from and these include two zombie slayer experiences (Deadwood Mansion and its sequel Deadwood Valley), two sci-fi experiences (Uber Sky 2088 and Star Trek: Discovery); a fantasy experience (Seekers of the Shard: Dragonfire); a player vs player/team vs team fighting experience (Unbound Fighting League) and a pirate-themed adventure experience (Curse of Davy Jones) that is particularly suitable for families with younger children.

The planning report said that the Sandbox VR experience would employ around 20 staff, and noted that Sandbox VR is particularly popular with groups of friends within the 25 to 35 age group, tourist groups, families with children aged 11+ and a form of corporate event.

Mr Brassil said that the Sandbox VR experience also includes ancillary licensed bar areas within the guest lounge that includes two planned bars at its Dublin outlet, with the second incorporating Toni, the robotic bartender.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times