By: Jaimz Dillman
Powerhouse streaming service Netflix has created The Upside Down in New York, and I was there for it! Partnering up with Fever - a live-entertainment discovery platform- what once was a huge warehouse for ships and cargo, is now transformed into Hawkins, and a sleep study lab that you have volunteered for by buying your ticket ($67 adults/$47 kids 5-17). Optional VIP upgrades include front of the line check in, collectible souvenir lanyard, drink and souvenir cup, and tote bag ($116 adults/ $81 kids 5-17).
We splurged for the top-tier entry, and were checked in and separated into two groups: A and B, and then into three color-coded groups of red, blue, and yellow.
Immediately sent back in time to 1986, actors greeted us and asked pointed questions about our sleep habits for our study. Dr. Owens addressed the group, and instructed us to keep all electronics away, because VHS recorders have gotten so advanced, they don’t want anyone to get in the way of their study.
Images c/o Netflix / Fever
Dressed appropriately for the era and ominously serious, the lab had several HR personnel and other doctors to assist us, and they guided us to the first room of the lab. More company messages are relayed via video while the actors give their spiel and then… something goes wrong… a brief flash of the Stranger Things crew interrupts the signal, and our lab personnel scramble to make things right.
From there, we’re given more instructions regarding our group colors, more interactions with interactive characters, and challenges to work together to accomplish entry to move forward, and help the gang get back to safety. I don’t want to go into specifics to save the mystery, but this was done hella well. I’m a theme park entertainment veteran, and notorious for being especially snobby when it comes to fandom experiences, but when I say they knocked this out of the park… I’m not kidding. The quality of the sets, the tech, the interactive elements, and having the actual actors from the show engage with us was really just top notch.
And then…. we exited to Starcourt Mall! I mean, for real, we all were ushered into Family Video stretching into Surfer Boy Pizza, the Palace arcade, Rink-o-Mania, Scoops Ahoy, and more. Of course, this is where you’re expected to spend more money, but there are also free offerings such as a QR code scavenger hunt, which earns a free gift upon completion, and loads of photo ops, including a demogorgon. This is also where VIP’s pickup your souvenir drink, and “free” gift.
It took us about 2.5 hours to get through everything, including the time we took to eat and explore at the end, and we were thoroughly thrilled when we left.
I highly recommend this for 13+ - my pre-teen is an Uber fan of the show, and dressed appropriately for the era. Xo said, “As a super fan, I liked that the sets were accurate to the show, the actors were wearing the appropriate outfits, and the effects were so real with the demodogs, I thought they were actually going to come through!” Younger participants may find some things too intense, and older folks may balk at being asked to interact, but the more you give over your imagination, the more fun you’ll have.
I hope the parks take notice of these pop-up offerings as something to possibly offer attendees in the future, as Netflix has show this fandom doesn’t just exist in The Upside Down. Netflix's STRANGER THINGS: THE EXPERIENCE is taking place in Brooklyn, New York, through August 7, 2022.