ATLANTA – “So you have any sleeping problems? Nightmares?” a stern man in lab uniform asked each person entering Hawkins National Laboratory. His intense eyes and frown were uncomfortable. He quickly made some notes and moved on.
Then came a video with Dr. Sam Owens (played by Paul Reiser), the operations manager. “We are excited to serve the amazing Hawkins community,” he said cheerfully, before informing attendees not to take photos as it “could jeopardize our important work here.”
From there, about 30 people were led to what is known as “Stranger Things: The Experience” at Pullman Yards in Kirkwood. Misfortune and death await – but not for the participants. The experience pays homage to the hugely successful Netflix horror drama that debuted in 2016 and was mostly filmed in Georgia, though set in a fictional Indiana town called Hawkins in the mid-1980s.
The experience debuted last month and is open Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are currently available until January 15, 2023. It’s slightly more expensive than some other experiences in town, including Harry Potter: The Exhibition (from $29) and Claude Monet: The Immersive Experience (from $33.10). in part due to its length, complexity and headcount. Tickets, available at feverup.com, start at $49 for adults on weekdays and $72 on weekends.
“We worked with the show’s creators to ensure that everything we did was consistent with the narrative and subject matter of ‘Stranger Things,'” said Isis Arias, who is in charge of marketing.
The 45-minute Hawkins Lab storyline features many of the series’ main cast in video and audio form, including Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Sadie Sink as Max. Danger lurks. objects move. The employees are just as changeable. Demodogs join in.
There’s plenty of 3D-induced scares and a few laughs, too, and participants are encouraged to use hand gestures and mind melds to channel Eleven’s paranormal powers.
Once the heroes save Hawkins from an apocalypse once again, guests will have unlimited time in the sprawling mix-tape area, where photography is welcome and food, drink, and souvenirs—including a Hellfire Club jean jacket priced at $98 for 2022—are available are for sale.
Touchstones from all four seasons are evident, from Joyce Byer’s spooky living room in Season One, the bustling Palace Arcade in Season Two, the ice cream parlor in Starcourt Mall’s Scoops Ahoy mall in Season Three, and part of the ice rink. O-Mania Ice Rink from Season 4.
There are Instagram- and TikTok-friendly areas for taking videos and photos (including a Demogorgon’s mouth), and glazed props from the show, including an outfit that Eleven wore, an Eggo waffle box used on set, and a Ghostbusters backpack from season 2.
Several actors portraying Hawkins residents as employees of Scoops Ahoy and Surfer Boy Pizza cosplay as if it were 1986, confused and fascinated by visitors with smartphones. A girl flirts with the disgruntled manager at Family Video Rentals, while an eager young reporter from the Hawkins newspaper asks questions and hands out business cards.
There are photo booths, old-school phone booths, a Stranger Things pinball machine, and an arcade with free 1980s video game classics like Dig Dug, Centipede, and Space Invaders. The Upside bar offers themed cocktails and mocktails. The Demogorgon cocktail, for example, is made with bourbon, orange, maple syrup, angostura bitters, and a Luxardo cherry, topped with a mini stroopwafel.
“The show’s cast and crew walked in and they had a blast,” Arias said.
Participants typically spend a total of 90 minutes to two hours on the experience, she added.
when you go
Stranger Things: The Experience, 4pm-9pm Wednesday-Friday, 11am-9pm Saturday-Sunday. $49-$72 for adults $45-$54 for ages 5-17. Pullman Yards, Building 1, 225 Rogers St. NE, Atlanta, feverup.com.