During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I had the opportunity to attend the Amazon Prime Video Experience which was celebrating the new Amazon Original series, The Boys and Carnival Row, as well as the fourth season of the sci-fi series, The Expanse. Situated across the street from the Convention Center, the experience featured immersive activations, live performances, and a giant tower in the middle of the 60,000 square foot space. The following is a recap of each of the activations as well as my overall thoughts on the Amazon Prime Video Experience.
Description: The Expanse activation enlists the help of the fans to assist with a UN peacekeeping mission on the newly colonized planet, Illus. Never seen before, fans will be able to walk and see Illus for the first time. Participants will explore new terra, pursue science-driven discoveries, and attempt to ease tensions between private corporations vying for profit and refugee groups just struggling to survive.
Thoughts: Full disclosure, I’ve never watched The Expanse, so as my first activation of the day, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. The only information I knew was the above description as well as the tag-line from the press packet which stated, “enlist a UN peacekeeping mission on a newly colonized planet.” That said, I may not have known much of the storyline during the experience, but what was created for this activation was nothing short of impressive. The first area we entered looked to be a spaceship of sorts in which we were given instructions on what would happen once we landed on the mysterious planet. As the doors slid open, we were told to all huddle together and to be very careful upon exiting. Outside of the ship, the landscape we entered was one covered in sand and large, rusted machinery. All around us were folks who looked on with hesitancy and distrust. As I took in my surrounding, I was immediately grouped with a few people where we spoke to one of the inhabitants who made it clear that the treatment they received was less than stellar. During this time, a young woman in what appeared to be official government gear approached me and asked to speak with me. She wanted my help, she told me and insinuated that all she and her people were trying to do was help the inhabitants of the planet. I told her I would be happy to help out, but before I got the chance all hell broke loose. Before we rushed out of the planetary area, it was suggested that something unholy was about to come from the spaceship, and though I never got a peek into what that could be, it stayed with me long after the activation had ended. Since then, I’ve spoken to quite a few people who are fans of the show and they’ve filled me in on the backstory as well as the fandom for the show. Though this wasn’t my favorite activation, I will say I was impressed with the design elements and the feeling of isolation from the rest of the experiences in the area. Furthermore, I’m actually interested in checking out the show to see what all the fandom is about.
Description: The Boys activation puts fans at the forefront of a crime scene that needs to be covered up. Lead by two members of The Boys cohort, you and 15-20 other attendees must scour the store and dispose of anything that could lead back to Butcher and Hughie. With the cops on their way, fans have about 10 minutes to clean up to search and destroy before fleeing the scene.
Thoughts: The concept of “evil” superheroes is one that I’m 100% on-board with. During my experience going through this activation, The Boys hadn’t come out yet, so I wasn’t sure what I was about to walk into. The facade was designed to look like a strip mall and my group of about 15 got ushered into an Audio Visual store that just so happened to have had a car crash through the windows. It’s here where we meet two characters that are anti-superheroes, tasked with covering up a crime. We are told that we must help them as they go about explaining the negative effects of having superheroes run amock. I found this activation to be the most fun out of all of them. It was high energy and there was a feeling of risk involved working with our two henchmen. As for the superhero in question – well, he just so happened to be invisible, but towards the end of our experience, it was revealed that one of the guests in our group was actually a supporter of superheroes and he, unfortunately, met his demise in a bloody fight. My favorite part of this activation was when I was told to destroy a VHS tape that featured security footage of the crash. Sometimes you need to let steam off and throw shit around, and with The Boys activation, I was given that opportunity. The only aspect that I would critique with this experience, and I’m not sure it’s a critique as much as it was part of the experience, was that everything was very chaotic. It was easy to trip over things and bump into people which can be frustrating at time. Also, I’m so bummed that I didn’t know there was a secret comic book store that guests could have experienced. Apparently, you had to know certain information (something I never received) but still! Nevertheless, I had an incredibly fun time with this experience and it’s made me even more excited to watch the show (once my life finally calms down).
Description: Carnival Row activation begins on the backstreets of the neo-Victorian Carnival Row. Guests will be questioned by law enforcement, then moved into the marketplace where they can interact with vendors, pucks, and faeries.
Thoughts: When it comes to my favorite activation for the Amazon Prime Video Experience, it most certainly was that of Carnival Row. Besides the fact that it’s a show I’m very much looking forward to, it was the most impressive in terms of layout and design. That said, the only downfall to this was that the line to get in did not move fast. Guests who enter had the choice to be a human or creature and there was a huge divide between the two with the creatures being questioned and interrogated heavily by police. Again, not knowing much of the show prior to attending this event, I picked up on the fact that the creatures were the ones that were being persecuted by the humans which explained why those of us who had a creature card were treated poorly compared to the humans. Upon entering the experience, guests had the chance to walk among the marketplace and interact with some of the actors. Once done, they could enter through a secret door which brought them to a Victorian-style lounge where the oppressed were given a safe haven from the humans. It’s here where the experience really took off as we got to experience performances from some of the characters while also being clued into the deeper story at hand. This centered around Orlando Bloom’s character, a human named Rycroft Philostrate, and Cara Delevingne’s character, a fairy named Vignette Stonemoss, who had a secret love affair that, from what I have gathered, ended in heartache and pain. The performances that we saw were breathtaking, the design was intricate down to the smallest detail, and the tone had an ethereal feel to it. Other than the line, which found people waiting for an hour and a half, this was one of the best activations out of everything I attended at San Diego Comic-Con. I think it goes without saying that this is the show I’m most looking forward to.
Compared to last year Amazon Experience, which focused more on Amazon Fire, I felt that this one really gave guests a chance to immerse themselves in the world of these three series. Though the activations weren’t necessarily long (clocking in at under 20 minutes), it was still enough of a taste of what fans could expect. If you didn’t want to wait in the long lines, Amazon did set up an area which allowed people to sit and watch as live performances were done on the Amazon tower. There was also a food truck and other places to grab snacks, as well as the much-needed shade from the sun. Overall, Amazon really brought their A-game to San Diego Comic-Con and if they continue on this path, I can only imagine what 2020 will bring!