Los Angeles, meet Hawkins. The Stranger Things: Experience brings its interactive and immersive stylings to Southern California in Montebello. Co-produced by Netflix and Fever, this groundbreaking experience takes fans of the global hit series inside some of its most iconic settings on an intimate guided new adventure alongside their favorite characters before the chance to hang out and explore some major locations from the show.

For a Stranger Things fan, this is a dream come true. It’s immersive from the moment you step in the door, all the way until you leave, and then some more on your way back to the car. The story here is all about you and your group. You’re aided (and hindered) by some of the characters from Stranger Things, but you’re the star of this show. Here’s the official description from Netflix and Fever.

Do you copy? It’s your turn to be the main character! Be the hero of your own Stranger Things story at Stranger Things: The Immersive Experience. Your journey will begin in Hawkins Lab, where you’ll take part in a story-driven interactive adventure and use your powers to save the day alongside Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will. After all that excitement, the fun is far from over: head on over to Mix-Tape to enjoy a throwback to the 80s in iconic locations such as Scoops Ahoy, Family Video, and the Palace Arcade. Whether you come alone, with your family, or with your squad, this is one ǝƃuɐɹʇs experience you don’t want to miss! Get your tickets for Stranger Things: The Experience in Los Angeles now!

The Story And Immersive Experiences

Right from the onset, you’re transported to the world of Hawkins, Indiana, and the 1980s. Here, you wait for your group’s time to enter the Hawkins Sleep Study. The “doctors” around you might ask some pretty simple questions that turn into something a bit more sinister. I was asked about how many pillows I use, which was followed up with “would you ever use a pillow to smother someone”. The actors in the Experience are all pros at their job, ready for any sort of retort you have to their questions, including me, saying “well, I’d rather smother someone with a teddy bear, than a pillow”.

After that, your greeter from the Hawkins Lab comes out, and a short safety video plays featuring Paul Reiser‘s, Dr. Owens. After that point, the cell phones are off, and it was just us, and the “Sleep Study”. Quickly, something is very off about what’s going on here. The presenter explains it away as technical difficulties, then as a drill for the safety protocols, before finally giving up and sending all of you to the Rainbow Room. It’s delightfully disturbing how cheery and smiley our presenter was and just how sweaty and unkempt they got through their presentation.

It gets more Stranger Things related with some of the characters from the show showing up to help you, like Dustin, Mike, Will, Erica, Max, and Eleven. Some of the antagonists from the series make an appearance, including a timeline/canon-breaking one from Vecna. The section where you venture into the Upside Down was the highlight of the interactive portion with some truly stunning 3D effects.

Surprisingly Not-Phoned In Performances

Courtesy of Netflix and Fever

For something that was likely filmed either in between seasons of Stranger Things or while they were filming one of the seasons (probably season 3), this is a well-acted side story. You’d expect the actors to phone it in for something like this, but everyone plays their characters just like they did on the show. Erica is just as sassy to everyone, Dustin is frenetic and nerdy, and it goes on. That doesn’t even cover how well the various actors around the Experience perform. The Doctors in the beginning section are great, and once you get into the Mix-Tape after the interactive section, there’s an entire story going on there with teenagers mad at one another for throwing parties, not watching Scarface, and talking to Sydney.

The Mix Tape is basically a variation on The Stranger Things Store that popped up around this time last year in Glendale, California, and other places around the country. However, this has food, drinks, and the aforementioned story surrounding it. There are plenty of photo ops with the Byers’ couch, complete with Christmas lights that blink, twinkle, and go dark. Complete with a kickass ’80s soundtrack, there’s just as much to do here as in the actual Experience portion.

Impressive Effects Throughout

The Stranger Things Experience is much more than just a walk-through. If you’ve been on Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland, it’s very much like that. While it’s a side story to the main action of Stranger Things, this is just as impressive from an effects standpoint as anything out there. There’s incredibly immersive technology including video screens and projectors that make you feel like you’re actually getting attacked by DemoDogs or Vecna.

The whole thing has plenty of thought, care, love, and passion put into it. It shows with all the performers, the effects, how the entire area looks, and down to the drinks and food on offer. Speaking of that, the drink menu might not be lengthy, but each cocktail (and mocktail) are fantastic.

I can’t recommend Stranger Things: The Experience enough for fans of the show or just for people who want something fun to do on a weekend. The show is fantastic, but what brings this over the top are the small details sprinkled throughout. To get everything, you might need to make multiple trips.

The Stranger Things Experience runs from November 2022 to February 2023. Tickets are limited for November but the schedule opens up more in December and onward. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday weekly from 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM on weekdays, and from 10:30 AM to 9:00 PM on weekends. Grab your tickets at Stranger Things Experience’s website!

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