To say this past Halloween season has been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced would be an understatment. Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, haunted attractions and live events have had to get crafty with their experiences. Some have succeeded, others not so much, but each has done their best to keep guests entertained and safe during this unprecedented time.
One such event that has successfully executed a full immersive experience from the comfort and safety of one’s car is STRANGER THINGS: THE DRIVE-INTO EXPERIENCE. Located in Downton Los Angeles at the ROW DTLA, STRANGER THINGS: THE DRIVE-INTO EXPERIENCE gives fans a chance to journey through key moments across the first three seasons of Stranger Things. Guests will get to experience first hand the terror of Demogorgons, the danger lurking inside a Russian lab, and well as the cosmic terror of the Upside Down.
For this experience, we were given a VIP ticket which included a fast track entry and a mystery box filled with swag, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, on top of the 1-hour immersive driving experience and access to the Hawkins Online Portal (which are both included with the Standard Package). Once guests arrive at the destination, they get to experience a pre-narrative show that transports them back to the 80s for a Hawkins High School Reunion.
While waiting for the actual experience to begin, we were entertained with a pre-narrative show that transported us back to the 80s for a Hawkins High School Reunion. In front of us was a massive stage which featured an 80s style MC, trivia questions, 80s music (played through our car radio, of course) and more. However, just because we were in the car waiting, doesn’t mean we were bored as character’s from the show, such as Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, and more, interacted with drivers and passengers as we waited to enter.
As for the main event, it’s best left a secret (or as much as one can keep a secret in the digital age). But what I can tell you is that you’re in for one of the best productions you’ll experience this year. Located inside the parking structure of ROW DTLA, the creators transformed the space in a way in which I’ve never seen done before. The creativity level is astonishing but furthermore, it’s incredibly safe. At no point will you need to leave the comfort or safety of your car, as the experience will be taking place all around the vehicle.
Though the ending of this 1-hour trip through Hawkins is the show-stopping portion of the experience, I actually found the first vignette to be more thrilling and tension-filled (I even jumped out of my seat at one point!) than the ending. I think this is partly due to the fact that I ran into a little issue at the end: my little car was stuck behind a massive SUV, resulting in blocked visuals. Though the experience is taking place all around, specific portions of this show would benefit from being able to see out the front windshield. I’m not sure how this situation can be remedied, but it greatly impacted my ability to make sense of a lot that was happening at the end.
Overall, STRANGER THINGS: THE DRIVE-INTO EXPERIENCE is one of the most impressive events I’ve been too. Though you don’t necessarily need to watch the series to attend, I highly recommend doing so. The narrative can be quite confusing even if you have seen the show, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone not familiar with Stranger Things. Regardless, what the creators were able to achieve with this event during a pandemic is quite remarkable and that in and of itself is enough to check it out.
STRANGER THINGS: THE DRIVE-INTO EXPERIENCE is running from now until February 2021. Prices start at $69.00 for the Standard Access Package (for 2 people in one car) and $114 for the VIP Access Package (for 2 people in one car). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit strangerthingsdriveinto.com.
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