I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about the Stranger Things Experience at Pullman Yards in Atlanta. I don’t get excited about Instagramable/TikTok experiences, I want a little more than just a selfie station. The Stranger Things Experience delivered.
It Starts in the Queue
The interactive show portion of the Stranger Things Experience is similar to a theme park experience. Just like Disney or Universal, a themed queue helps you disconnect from reality and start getting into the scene. And just like a theme park, you have different stages to get you to the main event.
The initial holding area is where you will wait for the ‘sleep study’ you supposedlly signed up to participate in. Scientists pace back and forth watching and observing the subjects. They’ll engage you as you wait, asking about your sleep habits and starring into your soul. It’s immediately apparent, something is a little off, but in your naiveté, it’s easy to dismiss it.
Immersing Yourself in the Story
The story unfolds in a series of rooms. There is plenty of interaction with the real characters from the show and lots of audience participation. If I were to improve upon the experience, I’d incorporate a little bit of an escape room into the show – making guests have to figure something out vs just mind tricks.
The experience pulls heavily from theme parks most beloved moments. In one section they flash select photos of the group, similar to the spy in Star Tours. One room uses 3D effects. In another area, they make three individuals group leaders bringing them into the story by identify them with a sticker. There’s even a mole in the group.
As you go through you realize the designers knew what they were doing, like they designed sets or something — oh yeah, they do. This is done by the folks from Netflix afterall.
The author and her son in one of the photo ops – but in addition to a fun photo, the details of the set are so much fun to discover.
Don’t miss the Gift Shop
Just like in the 80’s, you’ll want to spend lots of time at the Mixed Tape Mall. This gift shop/food court are is an improvement on the typical end of ride experience store. This is where you’ll find lots of TikTok moments, but there’s more too. Pay attention, there are tons of details.
See the telephone booths – if the phone rings answer it for a surprise.
You can actually play the old school video games – look in a corner of the Upside Bar for a double-sided sit down Ms. Pacman.
There are also props from the show scattered around. Joyce’s living room is a treasure trove for anyone that remembers the 80’s, from Harlequin romance novels to Tomy water games, down to four ashtrays full of spent butts.
Interact with the Characters
In addition to the 80’s music soundtrack, the best part of the mall area are the actors who wander around engaging with guests. There’s Dylan Garner, the reporter who is looking for a scoop on what’s really going on at the Hawkins lab. The video store clerk sports a Casio watch (I was hoping for a swatch watch) and talks about getting to see the movies as soon as they leave the theatre. The twins from Scoops ice cream shoppe will beg for a copy of your photo once you get it developed.
All in all, this is a fun experience for anyone who is a fan of the series, or just wants to relive the 80’s. Just eat before you go. The prices at the mall are definitely not from the 80s.
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