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18 Extraordinary Experiences Open Now & Coming Soon: January 2024

Each month we share our edit of the experiences opening around the globe that we think are truly extraordinary. Here’s what we think is worth checking out in January 2024.

If you’re working on an Extraordinary Experience you’d like us to consider for a future edition, please share it HERE!

18. Wonderverse

Wonderverse, US

Opens: January 2024
Location: Chicago, US
Experience Sector: LBE, Immersive Entertainment

The Chicago LBE scene just stepped up a gear with the opening of a new immersive entertainment destination called Wonderverse. The brainchild of Sony Pictures, attractions at Wonderverse, which opens this month at Oakbrook Center mall, will be inspired by Sony’s films, TV shows and video games, including Jumanji, Ghostbusters, Bad Boys and 21 Jump Street. The 45,000-square-foot venue will be home to a mix of physical and immersive multi-media experiences, interactive installations and themed dining.

Highlights include a Ghostbusters virtual reality (VR) experience, a Jumanji VR game, Zombieland-themed bumper cars, Bad Boys racing simulators, Uncharted escape rooms, and a 21 Jump Street pop-up bar. The Commissary Bar will serve cocktails, mocktails and light bites, while you’ll be able to refuel on something more substantial at the Commissary Restaurant. Keep an eye out for hidden speakeasy The Ghost Trap.

17. Deep Space

Deep Space exhibition at the West Bund Museum, Shanghai

Open now until April 2024
Location: Shanghai, China
Experience Sector: Museums, Immersive Entertainment

While astronomy has a starring role in Deep Space – an innovative new exhibition at the West Bund Museum in Shanghai, the show is more about meandering among masterpieces than walking on the moon. Billing itself as ‘Asia’s inaugural 8K projection experience’, Deep Space blends global cultural artefacts with digital art. Themed around astronomy, art, and travel, the show brings together a massive collection of cultural intellectual property from all over the world and combines cutting-edge art with audio-visual performance.

The ‘8K Best’ section displays the most visually arresting works from the project’s digital library, allowing viewers to enjoy the multiple charms of space. The ‘Last Supper’ category, meanwhile, enables the audience to travel back to 15th century Milan and explore the secrets hidden in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. Finally, ‘Uniview’ unfurls the mysteries of the universe through space exploration and interstellar journeys.

16. CAMP Club

CAMP Kids Club for Marriott Bonvoy, Mexico

Opens: January 2024
Location: Cancun, Mexico
Experience Sector: Immersive Entertainment

Having blazed a trail with a Little Mermaid experience and a successful collaboration with multimedia brand Doodles in the US, immersive retail specialist CAMP has teamed up with hotel giant Marriott Bonvoy on a series of kids clubs in a bid to revolutionise the family holiday experience. Reimagining the idea of the Kids Club with its signature brand of humour and creativity, CAMP Club, which will launch its first site at Marriott’s Cancun resort this month, will focus on interactive activities and immersive environments.

Following a successful pilot in 2022, CAMP Clubs cater to kids of all ages, from toddlers to tweens. Each club will be themed to suit the location, with a focus on sensory, visual, and experiential play. In the Creative Corner kids will be able to get stuck into guided arts and crafts workshops, slime-making lessons and other hands-on experiences. The clubs will also go big on storytelling and interactive play in themed environments, including ‘disco cabins’ decked out with floor-to-ceiling sequins. The concept is set to be rolled out to additional Marriott’s all-inclusive locations this year.

15. Smoke & Mirrors

Headline and above image; Xiuching Tsay, Drunken Gravity, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo by the artist; Smoke & Mirrors, Florida

Open now until 12 May 2024
Location: Florida, US
Experience Sector: Museums & Galleries

Miami’s Boca Raton Museum of Art is keeping the magic of Miami Art Week alive with a thought-provoking exhibition called Smoke and Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art, which seeks truth through the lens of deception. Examples of artists using new powers of trickery for creative ends abound throughout the show, but what sets Smoke and Mirrors apart as an important commentary on contemporary culture is its bold exploration into political disinformation and deepfake-enabling technologies such as AI.

The exhibition features works in a range of media by Tony Oursler, Jim Shaw, Sarah Charlesworth, Glenn Kaino, Urs Fischer and The Yes Men. Among the installations on show is Francesca Panetta and Halsey Burgund’s In Event of Moon Disaster, a deepfake reimagining of an alternative history of the space race. The aim of Smoke and Mirrors is to remind the public that not everything is as it seems, and, with the rise of social media and AI tech, misinformation is everywhere, making the truth ever more difficult to discern.

14. Cute

Hannah Diamond, Affirmations. Image courtesy of the artist for Cute exhibition at Somerset House, London

Opens: 25 January until 14 April
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Immersive Art

If YouTube cat videos are anything to go by, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for adorable content. So much so, that Somerset House has decided to explore what the popularity of cuteness says about contemporary society in its new exhibition. Taking a deep dive into the roots and evolution of cute culture, which has become an accepted mainstream aesthetic, Cute features modern artworks replete with all things pink and pretty. The show opens with a section dedicated to cats running the gamut from Victorian-era depictions and early photos of felines to modern moggies by the likes of artist Karen Kilimnik.

Featuring a games arcade and dance floor, the show explores the development of kawaii aesthetics in 20th century Japan via figurines and illustrations from Tokyo’s Yayoi Museum. Designed by AOC Architecture, Cute is split into five sections: Cry Baby, Play Together, Monstrous Other, Sugar-Coated Pill and Hypersonic. For each, artist Bart Seng Wen Long has explored the theme via a video that splices social media clips with video games and music videos. To mark Hello Kitty’s 50th birthday, Cute will boast a space dedicated to the Sanrio character courtesy of a super fan with over 50,000 items of Hello Kitty merch.

13. Wonder Garden

Wonder Garden, UAE

Open now until March 2024
Location: Riyadh, UAE
Experience Sector: Themed Attractions, Immersive Entertainment

The Riyadh Season is fast becoming an unmissable fixture in the Saudi calendar. Featuring a packed roster of events, among this year’s attractions is the Wonder Garden, a giant, whimsical amusement park masterminded by creative design firm Scruffy Dog Creative Group, which forms the centrepiece of the Season’s festivities. Created in collaboration with Saudi Arabian project developer Sela, Wonder Garden is a vibrant themed landscape that immerses guests in a riot of colours and lush vegetation and encourages exploration.

The amusement park features rides, interactive games, innovative multimedia experiences and a variety of food options. To heighten the dreamlike nature of the experience, the attraction is organised into colourful themed zones with their own individual ambience and design. Now in its fifth year, the Riyadh Season is a winter entertainment event that welcomes visitors from across the globe to its packed programme of immersive experiences.

12. Rollerscape

Rollerscape, London

Open now until 16 March 2024
Location: London, UK
Experience Sector: Themed Attractions, Immersive Entertainment

It’s time to get your skates on as a retro roller disco has just opened its sequin-covered doors in London’s Wembley. Bringing back the vintage vibes this winter, Rollerscape will roll into town until mid-March at the Troubadour Theatre Wembley, when it will be taken over by Starlight Express. Offering a fresh take on the four-wheeled classic, the humble roller disco has been given a modern makeover via arresting LED tracking visuals, live DJ’s, creative cocktails, craft beers and artisan wines.

Billing itself as “the UK’s ‘first immersive live roller-skating rink”, foodies are also in for a treat as the venue’s specially created Americana-themed menu has been devised by the Studio Five restaurant team, and includes buttermilk wings, diner-style hotdogs and burgers, as well as a range of hand-pulled pizzas. Look out for special events with DJs and themed nights – we’re first in line (and will be first on the disco ball-filled floor) for the Taylor Swift skate night.

11. Mad Arts

Psynesthesia by Tam Gryn at Mad Arts, US

Opens: 24 January 2024
Location: Florida, US
Experience Sector: Museums & Galleries, Immersive Art

Incubator for technology-forward projects Mad Arts is due to open a permanent home in the form of a shiny new immersive art museum on Florida’s Dania Beach on 24 January during the IGNITE Broward festival. Boasting over triple its current gallery space and an outdoor garden, the multi-million-dollar museum expansion enables Mad Arts to present an ambitious events programme showcasing experiential artwork driven by emerging tech.

Beginning boldly, the 50,000 square foot space will open with no fewer than 20 exhibitions from a diverse range of artists. Highlights include RÉSONANCES, an installation by Canadian artist LP Rondeau co-produced by ELEKTRA and distributed by Wireframe Public Art; Core (2020), by the French company Adrien M & Claire B; SysCalls, by Stockholm-based artist Jaime Reyes and re|thread, a collective of software researchers, artists and designers; and The Light Pours Out of Me, a sound installation by local artist Richard Vergez.

10. House of Hype

House of Hype by HyperSpace, UAE

Open now
Location: Riyadh, UAE
Experience Sector: Competitive Socialising, Themed Attractions

Proving itself as one of the world’s most fast-developing entertainment hubs, Riyadh is now home to a new immersive entertainment venue called House of Hype, which has been masterminded by digital theme park start-up HyperSpace. The 60,000-square-foot park in Boulevard Riyadh City combines gaming attractions, immersive theatre experiences, interactive areas for content creation, virtual music production stages and experiential retail.

HyperSpace venues use an in-house currency called HyperCoin, and the entire theme park is played like a video game through a mobile app, which offers challenges, prizes, games and points, and is managed using AI data analysis. The new Riyadh site follows on from the successful launch of Aya, which opened in Dubai last year at the Wafi City shopping mall. House of Hype, which combines 46 creator experiences, 29 immersive attractions, and 32 gaming experiences, is expected to welcome one million visitors a year.

9. Aquaman Simulator – The Lost Kingdom

Aquaman Simulator and the Lost Kingdom game on Roblox

Open now
Location: Roblox
Experience sector: Gaming, the Metaverse

To make a splash around the launch of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Warner Bros Pictures has launched an immersive Roblox gaming experience in the metaverse. The virtual world, dubbed ‘Aquaman Simulator – The Lost Kingdom,’ is a digital recreation of the film’s Kingdom of Atlantis, where users can immerse themselves in the underwater city, taking on special challenges, discovering magical creatures and defending the kingdom from enemies using trident weapons. If you play your cards right you might even meet Aquaman.

In the metaverse experience users have the chance to develop their skills and win digital rewards and accessories, such as a golden trident, a manta mask and a one-of-a-kind T-shirt. To amp up the excitement for the new superhero film, gamers will receive their own digital pet Storm – Aquaman’s sea dragon sidekick – 24 hours before the film’s UK release. Created in partnership with gaming developer The Gang, the experience was designed to expand the franchise’s fan base to younger consumers.

8. Cabinets Of Death

Cabinets Of Death, Bompas & Parr

Opens: 15 January until 18 February
Location: London, UK
Experience sector: Themed Attractions, Food & Beverage

To celebrate the launch of Cabarets of Death, a new book by Mel Gordon and Joanna Ebenstein published by Strange Attractor Press, experiential specialists Bompas & Parr and Ebenstein have co-curated an exhibition called Cabinets of Death, which shines a light on the spectacle of the ‘Death Cabarets’ found in Paris in the early 20th century, and the rituals surrounding death. In 1892, Paris’ Montmartre district saw the opening of three eerie cabaret restaurants dedicated to offering their guests bardo-like journeys into the afterlife.

Each of the venues presented a unique, comic-grotesque vision of death set in menacing environments of Nothingness, Hell, or Heaven featuring costumed characters, hidden optical illusions, improvisational spectacles, nudity, invented cuisines and audience participation. Cabinets of Death will include selected items that feature in the book as well as items gathered from the Funeral Museum of London. The month-long pop-up will include curated talks and a death-themed cocktail bar.

7. Luna Luna Forgotten Fantasy

Luna Luna Forgotten Fantasy, Los Angeles

Opens: January 2024
Location: Los Angeles, US
Experience sector: Themed Attractions, Immersive Entertainment

Having hit the headlines last year, Luna Luna, ‘the world’s first travelling amusement park’, will finally fling open its doors to visitors this year. The original Luna Luna opened in 1987 with rides, games and fairground attractions designed by heavy-hitting artists including Salvador Dalí, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein. Canadian rapper Drake has invested US$100m into restoring the park, which will take over a 60,000-square-foot warehouse complex on the outskirts of downtown LA.

Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy is due to run in LA until late spring and will feature an enchanted forest by Hockney, a Ferris wheel by Basquiat, and a carousel by Keith Haring, where the artist’s curved creatures come alive as toy-like blocks. Part entertainment event and part historical show, the theme park will include live performers. Be warned though, you sadly won’t be able to hop aboard the Ferris wheel or the carousel, as the artworks are too pricey and precious to be played with. You can, however, walk through Dalí’s Dalídom dome. The aim is to make the glorified art exhibit feel like a carnival.

6. Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre

Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre, China

Opens: January 2024
Location: Guangdong, China
Experience sector: Museums & Galleries, Theatre

Zaha Hadid Architects has just put the finishing touches on the Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre in Aviation New City, a 4.78 million-square-metre urbanisation with civic, cultural, academic and commercial infrastructure in Zhuhai’s Jinwan district. The space was designed to be a centre of modern creativity in one of the world’s most dynamic regions and is home to three cultural institutions: a performing art centre with a 1,200-seat Grand Theatre and a multifunctional Black Box theatre; an interactive Science Centre; and an art museum.

Nestled in the middle of a lake, each venue has its own quirky design features but they are all connected by a clear formal and structural logic that runs 170 meters from east to west. Echoing the chevron patterns of migratory birds flying in formation over southern China, the latticed steel canopies sheltering each venue from the subtropical climate of southern China are configured through repetition, symmetry and scale variation, resulting in a composition of related elements that respond to the different functional requirements of each building. The space features a public plaza, cafés and restaurants.

5. Viking Immersive City

Viking Immersive City, France

Opens: Spring 2024
Location: Rouen, France
Experience sector: Themed Attractions, Immersive Learning

Set to launch in spring 2024, the Viking Immersive City in Rouen will transport history lovers on a captivating journey into the world of the Vikings in Normandy. Rather than lazily regurgitating history, the multi-sensory immersive experience offers a deep dive into Scandinavian culture, craftsmanship, sciences, mythology and history within a 1,000 square metre space. Equally educational and playful, the experience, slated to open this spring, will take place across six themed rooms that make use of the latest cutting-edge projection tech.

While the finer details are currently under wraps, visitors can expect video-mapping installations, monumental interactive historical settings, authentic Viking artefacts, 360° video projections and spatialised 3D soundscapes. During the experience, visitors have the freedom to actively engage with the exhibits and handle objects and digital tools that are seamlessly integrated into the setting, allowing them to become a part of the unfolding narrative. The aim is to shed new light on the heroes and legends that have shaped French culture.  

4. The Moonwalkers

The Moonwalkers, London

Opens: Now until 21 April
Location: London, UK
Experience sector: Immersive Learning

If you’re a Tom Hanks-loving wannabe astronaut then your luck is in, as immersive venue the Lightroom in London’s King’s Cross is back for a second bite of the apple. Following on from its successful David Hockney show, Bigger & Closer, which the artist was closely involved in, comes The Moonwalkers, an epic immersive experience that combines original NASA footage of the Apollo landings and photos from Andy Saunders’s gorgeous photobook Apollo Remastered with an original score from Anne Nikitin.

In the production, which makes its world debut in London, space nut Hanks narrates a script he co-wrote with Christopher Riley telling the story of man’s expeditions to the moon and looking into its future. The Moonwalkers features interviews with Hanks and the astronauts of the upcoming Artemis expedition, which will take man back to the moon for the first time in 50 years. Flexing his cosmic credentials, Hanks produced the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and co-wrote the film Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D.

3. WhoMadeWho World Tour

WhoMadeWho World Tour, Global

Opens: Now until 6 April
Location: Various
Experience sector: Music & Concerts

Fresh from making magic at the Da Vinci Genius show in Amsterdam, multimedia design studio flora&faunavisions has now lent its artistic vision to Copenhagen-based experimental pop trio WhoMadeWho’s world tour. Contributing to the stage visual design of the tour, the firm has created a borderless wonderland, where radiant lights embrace geometric designs, and screens choreograph an immersive experience that seamlessly blends music, motion and light into a sensory symphony. Each song during the concert is an experience in itself, set against a backdrop of innovative design and tech.

The pop trio has roped in the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to transform traditional concert stages into immersive art installations and turn each performance into a visual spectacle. EyeMix Studio are also on board to amplify the visual experience and add an emotional depth to each performance via AI and advanced visualization tools to create an aesthetic backdrop that’s in perfect harmony with the band’s captivating tracks. Find them in Tulum in January, Paris and London in February, and Phoenix and San Francisco in March, before their Copenhagen homecoming in April.

2. WWE Experience

The WWE Experience, UAE

Opens: January 2024
Location: Riyadh, UAE
Experience sector: Sport, Immersive Entertainment

Wrestling lovers based in the UAE are in for a treat this month as a WWE Experience is heading to Riyadh. Due to feature wrestler appearances, shops and more, news of the event was announced at WWE Crown Jewel 2023.

The well-oiled powerhouses will be flexing their muscles at Boulevard City, and the wrestling showdown will form part of the Riyadh Season, which launched in 2019 and has fast become one of the biggest fixtures in the city’s brimming events calendar. Other events to have lit up the Boulevard recently include a Nintendo Experience, The World of Barbie and the Disney Castle.

1. Mean Girls Experience

Mean Girls Experience, US

Opens: 12 January until 21 April 2014
Location: Los Angeles and New York, US
Experience sector: Immersive Dining

If you’re into early noughties nostalgia then this Mean Girls experience might be for you. Launching in LA and New York this month to coincide with Paramount Pictures’ US release of the new Mean Girls film on 12 January, the pop-up restaurant from Bucket Listers, a media experience brand, comes hot on the heels of a sell-out Malibu Barbie Café and Golden Girls Kitchen experience. Fans will enjoy dishes created by MasterChef semi-finalist Becky Brown, including the ‘Burn Book Burger Sliders’ and the ‘Stab Caesar Salad’.

Desserts include the ‘Rainbow + Smiles Cake’, ‘Is Butter a Carb Cookies’, and the ‘Fetch Strudel’. In addition to lashings of food, the pop-up will boast a ‘Cool Mom Bar’, a museum of set pieces and outfits, and exclusive merch, and will feature recreations of the film’s most iconic scenes. During the experience fans will get to roam the halls of North Shore High, leave their mark in the Burn Book and strike a pose on stage at the Winter Talent Show.

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