Fans of the wildly popular Netflix series STRANGER THINGS will want to check into the Hawkins Sleep Lab at the latest immersive experience. The STRANGER THINGS EXPERIENCE is now open and we just can’t get enough!
It’s hard to believe that I had interviewed a few of the cast members of Stranger Things when the first season was launched in 2016. The runaway hit created by the Duffer Brothers and producer Shawn Levy was brilliantly crafted and executed. Many of us were blown way not only by the storyline but also how the show also revived the career of actress Wynona Ryder.
The series began in a small town (1983) of Hawkins where a young boy went missing. Everyone was searching for him but things got a little strange when a young girl appeared with a shaved head. She had escaped from the “bad men” and lands in this town. But she’s not like the other kids. She’s got special powers. Between the two strange occurrences a series of supernatural events happen and the town is turned Upside Down. Now were are four seasons in with one more expected in 2024.
In the meantime, there’s a new Stranger Things Experience to keep our momentum and love for the series going. We’re blown away with all the details in this film and production studio transformed into the hottest experiential space. Just like the show, visitors will step into an all 80s era. For the record, those were my teen years…you can do the math. As you wander through the lab, you’ll be asked to put your mini pocket computer phone devices away. It is the 80s, after all. They didn’t exist. Just be present and really get the full immersive and fun experience.
When I arrived with my friend, we were assigned to one of three groups. We were given instructions as we voluntarily committed to participating in a research study at the Hawkins Sleep Lab. What we quickly realized was that we weren’t going to get much sleep for the duration of the study. We also realized were under surveillance at all times.
Welcome to Hawkins, the fictitious town from the Netflix hit series Stranger Things where nothing makes sense anymore. We had a few challenges to get through. But like Elle and her friends remind us, we need to all work together.
We are given instructions on how to maneuver through the labyrinth of rooms and a refresher on the powers we possess. If you’ve watched the series you know these powers will wield exciting results! Keep an eye out for the demogorgans and demodogs!
Once you’re through to the other side, aka the Mix Tape, all will be good again! You’ll also be able to bring your phone back to life. You know you’re going to want to document this!
It’s a fun experience for fans of Stranger Things
There is a nod to each season and all sorts of little details to watch for. A few sets have been recreated for the best photo opps. Yes, the iconic Byers’ living room is there (it definitely spells out something you won’t want to miss!) That phone booth? Pick up the receiver if you hear it ring! Also, be sure to interact with the cast of characters.
We LOVED the technology incorporated into the experience. We won’t give anything away but it’s freakin’ cool!
“The screen in the Upside Down is unique,” said Isis Arias, Head of Marketing for Netflix Live Experiences. “It’s a curved screen so the 3D technology that goes into that is really amazing. When you first enter the room the spores really feel like they are floating in front of you. So, you feel really pulled into the Upside Down in a unique way. Then, we built around it so you feel the scenic environments. There’s also really unique technology in the room before that one. It really feels like you’re in a lab with frosted glass. What you see is all programmed and experienced in a very unforgettable way.”
The Stranger Things Experience is a big success in Los Angeles and Paris where it’s also featured. Arias mentioned while were are getting the same experience here in Toronto, visitors here will find a few tweaks based on the layout of the venue. “This is also a much bigger experience in comparison to the Bridgerton on that was just here. We had to build out different rooms and the scale of this is larger.”
She also tells us what’s unique at the Toronto experience can be found in the food and beverage area aka “The Mix Tape”. “There are a couple of mock-tails that are unique to Toronto that we think fans are going to love.”
What’s the recommended age? For sure adult fans but Arias mentioned it’s really at the discretion of the parents. “Many families have watched the series together. If you, and your kids, have seen the series then you have a good sense of what to expect.” But she did mention that the content and interaction are really not appropriate for kids under the age of five. Kids under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
And what’s Arias’ favourite part of the Stranger Things Experience?
“It’s watching fans go through the experience and you see how they really get into it. Like the Byers’ living room that has a lot of fun things. We’ve really thought through all the little details. We built for them to be in the world.”
It’s a great experience for fans of the series. We’d recommend it as a night out – the 80s music is awesome! And plan on staying for food and drinks (corn dogs, chicken waffles, ice cream sundaes, pizza)…leave your diet for another time. The only thing we think would be a fun addition is a roller rink maybe the opportunity for a sleepover?
The duration of the immersive experience lasts for 45 minutes. Then, guests are invited to hang out in the Mix Tape area as long as they like. Also, definitely more fun if you dress the part! We spotted a few leg-warmers!
The Stranger Things Experience is located at the Cinespace Marine Terminal Studio (8 Unwin Avenue) in the Port Lands area. Yes! The building complex is a large production studio for television shows and movies!
For more information and tickets visit strangerthings-experience.com . If you want a sneak peek at what to expect inside the lab, check their site or follow them on social media!