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Special Feature – Immersive Attractions & Experiences

Next-Level Reality

Immersive Attractions & Experiences are unique environments where people can enjoy the perception of being surrounded by, or be a part of, a different landscape than that of reality. Over the coming pages RLI takes a look at a selection of these immersive offerings and highlights why they are now so popular in the world today.

According to Cosm in their article ‘What is an Immersive Experience?’ immersive attractions and experiences are transportive in nature – they take you to another place entirely. Guests are enveloped in captivating environments that stimulate the senses and deceive perception.

The article goes onto say that human curiosity and the desire to explore have fuelled immersive technology growth. Technology gives everybody access to these new frontiers through live feeds from the ISS, footage from the Perseverance Rover on Mars or new discoveries from the James Webb Telescope. Sport’s broadcasting and camera technology has even evolved to put people right on the field in the middle of the action.

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Meow Wolf
Denver, US

Immersive Experiences & Attractions is a fast-growing segment of the entertainment sector and it utilises technology such as augment reality and projection mapping to design elaborate environments for people to explore, this is the view point of Meow Wolf’s Vince Kadlubek and ARTECHOUSE’s Adrian Jones in the article ‘How Immersive Experiences are Captivating Today’s Travelers’. They go on to say that immersive experiences have grown in popularity over the last through years amidst the Covid-19 era, which for many has not been the happiest time. Experiences that have space and understanding for those uncomfortable yet unavoidable emotions built into them are going to ring more authentically than an all-happiness-all-the-time experience ever could.

Immersive Attractions & Experiences Across the World
F1® Arcade, the world’s first official Formula 1® simulator racing experience to put socialising at its core, is to open its first US location in Boston’s Seaport district early 2024. The first-of-its-kind hospitality concept has seen more than 8,000 fans and non-fans visiting its flagship London venue each week to enjoy competitive socialising at its finest since it opened late last year. Boston Seaport will be the first to bring the excitement and thrill of F1® Arcade across the Atlantic as part of an ambitious plan mapped out across the US, targeting more than 20 permanent venue locations in the next five years. Covering 16,000 square feet, the new F1® Arcade takes inspiration from the world of Formula 1, with 69 racing simulators designed especially for the venue, each equipped with cutting edge motion and audio-visual effects to fully immerse guests in the race. Combined with a premium food and drink offering, the venue promises to match the famous F1 hospitality enjoyed at Grand Prix around the world.

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Las Vegas, US

Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They create immersive and interactive experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. Meow Wolf began in 2008 as an informal DIY collective of Santa Fe artists. These collaborative roots lay the foundation for Meow Wolf’s distinctive style of immersive, maximalist environments that encourage audience participation and their mission is to inspire creativity through art, exploration and play so that imagination will transform the world. The company currently operate three sites in Santa Fe, established in 2016 and Las Vegas and Denver in 2021. The newest permanent exhibitions will be at the Grapevine Mills Mall in 2023 and in Houston’s Fifth Ward in 2024.

Launched back in 2020 by developer Fisher Brothers, AREA15 has confirmed plans to expand its district in Las Vegas by 20 acres, providing a destination where people can “come, enjoy, consume, eat, party, dance and stay”. The anchor tenant will be a year-round eerie experience from Universal Parks & Resorts inspired by Halloween Horror Nights. Universal’s horror experience will occupy more than 110,000sq ft in a standalone building. In addition, more than 85,000sq ft will be dedicated to pop-ups and outdoor experiences. This will be joined by additional attractions, entertainment, retail and F&B. The new development extends beyond AREA15’s main complex, home to attractions including Meow Wolf‘s Omega Mart, Illuminarium and Lost Spirits Distillery. As part of the expansion AREA15 is looking for tenants offering immersive experiences, attractions, curated retail, unique entertainment and exciting F&B outlets. The expansion will include more than 450,000sq ft of space, with tenant leasing opportunities ranging from 1,000sq ft to 60,000sq ft. AREA15 is breaking ground on the expansion in the coming months and it will be turned over to the tenants in mid-2024.

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Immersive Gamebox
Lakeside, Essex, UK

After hugely successful runs across Europe and the US, the expansive and award-winning 360-degree digital immersive art experience, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, will debut in Southeast Asia in 2023, opening in Singapore for the first time at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), B1 Forum. This highly Instagram-worthy and stunning digital art experience is organised by H&B in partnership with Exhibition Hub, Fever and RWS. This 360-degree digital art experience is housed within various individualistic galleries in the expansive space of over 17,000sq ft. The exhibition invites visitors to step into more than 300 of Vincent Van Gogh’s sketches, drawings and paintings, immersing one in his world and life works by using floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall large scale digital projections. One of the core highlights of this exhibition is an expansive central projection area where the digital projections are the most prominent, creating a mesmerising space where visitors can sit and absorb the wonders of one of the most well-loved Dutch influential artists all around them at every turn.

BattleKart is a quintessential mix of video gaming, augmented reality and electric go-karting, brought together to provide guests with unparalleled sensations! Imagine a track on which they project different circuits and playing modes, where you progress at full speed on-board an electric kart while interacting with the scenery, the bonuses and the other players. Based in Belgium, BattleKart is an indoor electric karting concept, to which augmented reality technology provides an immersive video game environment. In semi-darkness, you drive a kart on the track, whose elements are dynamically video-projected from the ceiling. Thanks to a patented localisation system and game management by the servers, the karts interact with the projected scenery as well as the other karts.

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Monopoly Lifesized
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Valo Motion, the Finnish leader in active mixed-reality products, has announced the launch of Stomp Squad, an innovative co-op multiplayer experience for their mixed-reality trampoline game platform, ValoJump. Stomp Squad expands Valo Motion’s library of titles and is a spin-off of Super Stomp, one of the company’s most popular ValoJump experiences. ValoJump seamlessly integrates advanced motion tracking and augmented reality technology, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. When combined with StompSquad’s collaborative gameplay, ValoJump offers fun and interaction for players of all ages. The cooperative gameplay mechanics encourage players to jump and move on the trampoline, to stomp on robots and engage with friends in exciting new ways. Stomp Squad is an enjoyable social experience, in which players actively engage with each other to progress through the game.

EmotionHall is a unique and engaging place which is located in the context of Tiare Shopping, a “Meeting Place” and part of Ingka Centres in the North-East of Italy. It is the first permanent, immersive arena in Italy, modular and interactive, dedicated to art, culture and entertainment. EmotionHall is the first permanent interactive area dedicated to immersive art, cultural and entertainment experiences, created by high-performance projection and sound system. Its annual planning calendar includes alternating art exhibitions, realized in collaboration with international artists, as well as theatre and music events and much more. Because of the characteristics described, this project embraces customers with widely differing interests, with a good propensity to spend on cultural and entertainment goods.

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F1® Arcade Venue Design
London, UK

Dreamscape Immersive’s technology platform enables full immersion in virtual worlds through complete body presence. It untethers its audience members from the computer and allows them to walk freely with friends within a virtual world, where they see themselves, interact with objects and each other and experience worlds previously accessible only in their imaginations. The vision of Dreamscape is to combine the emotional power of Hollywood storytelling, the visceral excitement of great theme-park rides and this extraordinary new technology to create stories and worlds that push the limits of virtual reality. Dreamscape is truly the birth of a new storytelling medium, giving people the opportunity to step into a story and watch it unfold around them as they explore cinematic worlds, characters and creatures never before thought possible. And each Dreamscape adventure is a shared experience, embracing the human desire to explore, learn and enjoy together. Today the Swiss-based business has sites in Dubai, Los Angeles, Geneva and Riyadh.

Hammerson has signed the world’s most advanced virtual reality experience, Sandbox VR, as part of its vision to diversify the use of Grand Central in the heart of Birmingham and an ambitious strategy to reinvigorate its assets through new brands, entertainment and experiential concepts. The 13,000sq ft unit – set to open this summer – is the brand’s third in Europe and largest to date. This signing supports Sandbox VR’s plans to expand across the UK and Ireland, while elevating the experiential offer at Hammerson’s Bullring & Grand Central, in-line with the wider evolution of the destination. Taking group virtual reality gameplay and competitive socialising to the next level, Sandbox VR creates a truly immersive experience within exclusively designed interactive worlds, making players feel like they are living inside a game or a movie. The unmatched adventure is powered by a new generation of Hollywood motion capture cameras, 3D precision full-body trackers, custom hardware and haptic feedback suits, enhancing the touch, vibration and motion senses for the user.

Situated in Marble Arch in a stunning 30,000sq ft permanent location, Frameless features award-winning galleries and showcases some of the world’s greatest works of art, presented on a scale and in ways never seen before. Frameless is an art collection of the surreal and spectacular, where visitors are not only in the art, they are part of it. Our multi-dimensional galleries are transformed with a 21st-century interpretation of the classic masterpieces, designed to delight. Opening its doors back in October, the site is home to four unique galleries that harness the different types of projection technology to bring art to life. Visitors will take a unique journey as they travel through masterpieces, having an intimate view of every brushstroke, seeing details in a fluid, moving dimensional way bringing these artworks to life. Thoughtful music composition triggers emotion through the highest climactic moments, as well as very peaceful self-reflective interludes. It is a digital playground for all ages!

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Frontgrid, ParadropVR
King Power Mahanakhon, Bangkok, Thailand

Immersive Gamebox is reinventing how consumers socialize by introducing a whole new genre of gaming – immersive reality. Co-Founded by CEO Will Dean and CFO David Spindler in 2018, Immersive Gamebox currently has 20 locations across the US and EMEA with more to come. Games are designed by its in-house game studio to offer a wide range of ages innovative, shared experiences. Squid Game is one of the latest experiences in an extensive library of original and IP games. In June 2022, IGB announced its partnership with Rovio Entertainment to bring the first-ever life-sized slingshot Angry Birds game, to gameboxes across the US. The library also features IGB’s own proprietary games, including James Bunny, also launched in 2022, where users play as an agent tasked with taking down unlawful mafia bosses. Each game has specific recommendations for age ranges and indicates suitability for a family activity, work outing or date night.

Outernet is an immersive entertainment district in the heart of London where communities come together to enjoy culture in breathtaking new ways. They have brought together the best content and latest immersive technology to create new experiences for music, arts, culture and creators. Londoners and global travellers alike can discover free immersive experiences every day at Outernet. They have created an exciting schedule of entertainment and arts content using the latest technology and talented metaverse creators. Their innovation has no limits, with world-class creative plans in the pipeline that are set to launch later this year. Not only do they drive deep engagement with the hundreds of thousands of people they reach each day in the district, but they reach many millions more through wider earned, owned and paid strategies.

Created by the Welsh attraction company Frontgrid, ParadropVR in an attraction that allows guests to fly over any environment they can imagine. An award-winning, flying under canopy experience in VR, it combines motion-based engineering and VR gamification to create sensational experiences. Unattended, multiplayer and with a global online league, ParadropVR is leading the way in terms of retailtainment and competitive socialising, driving new and repeat footfall to venues.

Saudi Arabia’s SEVEN has inked a new deal with Hasbro for indoor entertainment centres across the Kingdom as part of its $13bn entertainment boom. Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) has announced it will create a Transformers theme park in the Kingdom. The PIF-owned entertainment group has signed a second licensed agreement with Hasbro. Under the agreement, SEVEN will bring the Transformers brand to its entertainment destinations in Saudi Arabia. SEVEN has partnered with AOA, an industry leader in immersive experience design and production, to develop the Transformers attractions which will provide thrilling and highly immersive experiences. Spanning more than 10,000sq m, the first Transformers attraction will open at SEVEN’s entertainment destination in the Al Hamra district of Riyadh, with two additional attractions set to open at other SEVEN’s entertainment destinations. The Transformers ride-based attractions will feature thrilling state-of-the-art rides and captivating environments that will have guests fully immersed in the action-packed world of the iconic brand.

CoComelon Playdate is a kids and family oriented YouTube channel specialised in music and nursey rhymes content that helps pre-schoolers learn life lessons. It is a place where imagination comes to life and kids can let their creativity run wild. Since launching at Riyadh Boulevard World in November last year, the 1,550sq m has been sold out almost every day and features playing and learning sections, F&B section, retail section and a party section. Families can enjoy quality time in the experience, discovering the world of CoComelon in real life through interactive play and learning. CoComelon Playdate leaves families entertainment with a desire to repeat their visit and experience.

Monopoly Lifesized is an interactive and immersive, 80-minute, physical version of the world’s favourite board game. Challenging for all ages; families, friends and children will love racing around life-sized Monopoly boards, with real-life representations of the tokens from the legendary board game acting as the players’ guides. Monopoly Lifesized is a permanent attraction located at the Boulevard World, Riyadh and with many other locations to follow. Footfall and revenue have exceeded the forecasted figures since the attraction has been sold out most of the days it has been operational since its opening last November 2022. Monopoly Lifesized Riyadh is the first-of-its-kind in the MENA region and the second Monopoly Lifesized FEC after the opening of one in London.