At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.
Welcome to Experience Radar 48, where we’re jamming to Skip Marley at a Lego Lates gig, exploring daring new worlds at Meow Wolf’s Denver art space, and trying to win a giant pink teddy at Fairgame in London.
1. Lego Launches Adults-Only Events Series
Keen to give parents a well-deserved night off (and night out) the Lego Group has hooked up with BAFTA and Universal Music on a series of adults-only after-hours events at its stores across the globe. As reported by The Music Universe, Lego Lates will include Lego building activities paired with a behind the scenes glimpse into the film, fashion and music industries. The series kicks off in London, where costume designer PC Williams will share her pearls of wisdom. At the Shanghai Lego Store, fashion designer Grace Chen will share her stories from the front row.
The Lego Store on Fifth Avenue in New York, meanwhile, will host an intimate gig with Bob Marley’s grandson, Skip Marley, and rising star Dora Jar. All Lego Late events include hands-on building experiences and the chance to take your creations home. “Building with Lego helps adults to relax, feel creative and get a real sense of achievement. It transcends age, and has benefits for builders both young and old. The Lego Lates series has been designed to help inspire adults to take the time to reconnect with old friends, make new ones and explore a new hobby,” said Genevieve Cruz, head of product for the adults audience at Lego.
2. Play-Doh Embraces Messy Parenting
Seeking to celebrate the messy side of parenting, pre-school arts and crafts brand Play-Doh has launched a pop-up event in London called The House of Messy Parenting, which is being billed as a guilt-free zone where parents have a chance to let off steam, share their parenting disasters and get their hands dirty while their kids craft their own colourful creations. As reported by Toy World, Hasbro’s modelling dough specialist has launched a book called Notes on Messy Parenting as part of a campaign seeking to celebrate the unspoken truths about parenting.
Available to download free, the book features relatable anecdotes from its 13 contributors, including TV presenters Ferne McCann and Vogue Williams. Attendees to the pop-up, which is taking place in Holborn in central London, will leave with a copy of the book and a Play-Doh-packed goodie bag. Recent research from Play-Doh found that 67% of parents feel an overwhelming pressure to be a perfect parent, with 41% stating they’d received unsolicited parenting advice from others.
3. Walmart Launches Universe Of Play
In a bid to target Roblox’s pre-teen users, US retail multinational Walmart has launched two immersive experiences on the online gaming platform. As reported by The Verge, Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play boast a variety of minigames, including a Ferris wheel, ‘interactive piano walkway’, and DJ booth, most of which serve to direct young players towards Walmart brands in what some are dubbing a cynical move to flog toys to kids. Over two thirds of Roblox’s daily active users are under 16, so the collaboration makes commercial sense.
A virtual dressing room lets you spend coins collected in Walmart Land to deck out your avatar with Skullcandy headphones or a Fitbit fitness tracker, while in Universe of Play you can race Razor scooters round a track or hang out with PAW Patrol characters. The Verge has dubbed the offering “basic in terms of graphics and gameplay mechanics”. The move into the metaverse seems to be working, however, with 200,000 ‘Welcome to Walmart Land’ badges awarded for entering the game for the first time having already been doled out to users.
4. Adult Playground Comes To Canary Wharf
Londoners seeking to indulge their inner kid should head to Fairgame in Canary Wharf, which is being dubbed as a “first -of-its-kind immersive fairground experience” for adults. Opening in October following four years of development, as reported by the Plymouth Herald, the attraction is an adults-only playground where stressed City workers can cut loose after a long day in the office. Featuring fairground favourites like whack-a-mole and duck shoot, players will wear RFID wristbands, allowing them to log their scores, track their performance and battle it out for a giant pink teddy – and the bragging rights that go with their win.
The amusement park will feature a giant hook-a-duck floating installation, a trio of bars serving fairground-themed cocktails, and street food from Burger & Beyond, Rudy’s Pizza Napoletana and Dos Mas Tacos. Fairgame is the brainchild of Gymbox founder Richard Hilton, who secured £5m in funding for the venture. “Fairgame is an immersive experience where guests can eat, drink and be a kid again. The fairground has been enjoyed for generations and we’ve combined the games everyone loves with state-of-the-art tech in an unbelievable setting,” Hilton said. Tickets cost £13 and include 75 minutes of playtime.
5. Sony’s Aquaverse Set To Make A Splash
Entertainment giant Sony is diving into the attractions arena with the launch of The Aquaverse, a theme park and water park rolled into one, which launches in Pattaya, Thailand, in October. As reported by Inside The Magic, Columbia Pictures Aquaverse will feature attractions inspired by popular Sony Group movies, including Jumanji, Ghostbusters, Bad Boys, and Hotel Transylvania. The park will boast a mix of land attractions, water features, themed zones, restaurants and live entertainment.
The Aquaverse marks Sony’s foray into location-based entertainment, making it a direct competitor with The Walt Disney Company and Universal Studios. “Aquaverse is the next step in Sony Pictures’ larger global strategy to expand location-based entertainment by utilising its globally known film and TV brands,” Jeffrey Godsick, Sony’s head of location-based entertainment, told Variety. Covering 14 acres, the park is expected to attract a million visitors a year and will play a key role in developing Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor.
6. Dreamlight Valley Takes TikTok By Storm
Disney’s latest gaming experience, Dreamlight Valley, has taken TikTok by storm. As reported by The Guardian, Dreamlight Valley is a simulation adventure available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. Similar to pandemic favourite, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, in Dreamlight Valley you’re plunged in a strange land and start fishing, digging, picking flowers and growing crops to restore peace and make the valley as idyllic as possible for residents including Goofy, WALL·E and Ursula. The game sees Animal Crossing’s ‘Nook miles’ rebranded as ‘Dreamlight duties’ and features a more adult interface.
After reading this Guardian review, we’re curious to try it out: “I sunk six unthinking hours into Dreamlight before I remembered my real world responsibilities. It’s the kind of game that etches itself on to your eyelids, so that when you turn it off and look at the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink you can’t help but see them as a side-quest. And there’s something about growing virtual vegetables that scratches a primordial itch – evolutionary psychologists should study it. I want to know why watering 10 carrots and selling them to Goofy makes me feel so alive.”
7. Meow Wolf Opens Arts Space In Denver
Having blown minds in New Mexico with its psychedelic flagship site in Santa Fe, arts production company Meow Wolf, famous for its immersive multimedia experiences for audiences of all ages, has launched a series of immersive installations made from salvaged material for its ambitious new venue in Denver. As reported by Dezeen, Meow Wolf has collaborated with 300 artists on its Convergence Station venue, houses in a narrow gap between three viaducts near downtown Denver. The space expands on Meow Wolf’s mission to enliven art communities and make art more accessible and appealing to adults and children.
The Convergence Station features a diverse array of permanent and temporary installations, which will be continually updated to form a living space for the arts community in Denver. The ‘Ice Worlds of Eemia’ gallery contains an icy alien landscape filled with high-tech gadgetry and a miniature stained-glass cathedral. Another contains C Street, a colourful steam-punk world featuring a salvaged utility truck and bus as centrepieces. Ossuary, meanwhile, is a catacomb-like space dotted with sculptures made from books, while Gremlin Symphony boasts walls made from musical instruments and road signs.