A totally non-comprehensive list of some of our favorite immersive experiences out there. Some on the list are here to stay, like Disneyland and other large-scale permanent installations, but others are more fleeting and may even be gone by the time you read this. It’s the nature of the Immersive Entertainment industry, and part of what makes it so timely and exciting. The list is biased toward our home turf of Southern California, (and our very own Wild Heart Ranch) but many on the list have counterpart experiences around the world.
DISNEYLAND. That’s right. We went there. Literally. It may be taken for granted, but Disneyland (and all its sibling parks) is the Granddaddy of immersive experiences. To this day, no one has done expansive, physical, rich immersive worlds better than Disney (including the Disney Galactic Starcruiser, which we have yet to visit).
ESCAPE ROOMS (worldwide) - Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to pick one. Escape rooms in general are awesome. You walk into a fully immersive and interactive environment. Open doors, collect items, pull levers, unlock locks, solve puzzles. It’s like being in a real-world video game. Some of our personal favorites include: Stashhouse & Lab Rat in LA, Captain Spoopy Bones in Orlando, The Hex Room in Orange County… but that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
MEOW WOLF (Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver): Psychedelic immersive art-parks for adults and kids alike, Meow Wolf is one of the more groundbreaking immersive experience companies.
BIRDLY VR & VIRTUALIS VR - (Area 15, Las Vegas) More than simply strapping a VR headset to your face and looking around, Both Birdly and Virtualis at Area 15 allow you to be much more physical than your average VR. Like our favorite Star Wars: The Void before it, these types of experience blur the line between physical and virtual experiences.
DELUSION (Southern California): Long standing high-production, often haunt-themed, immersive theater productions. What sets Delusion apart from similar experiences is its steadfast commitment to amazing production design, performances, and an increased level of guest interactivity and involvement.
BRIDGERTON QUEEN’S BALL / STRANGER THINGS POP-UPS (LA/NY): Netflix and other streaming networks have been sinking HUGE amounts of money into promotional immersive experiences to promote their tentpole shows. Bridgerton and Stranger Things are some of the top examples. With huge production budgets, they make you feel like you’re in the show. And the best part is participating with friends.
HALLOWEEN HAUNTS. Knotts Scary Farm, Universal Haunted Horror Nights. If you’re into getting spooky around Halloween, these a couple of staples. Themed mazes, haunted houses, wacky shows, they have it all. There are countless local Halloween Haunt events, with varying degrees of quality. But no matter what, it’s the ultimate way to celebrate spooky season.
SLEEP NO MORE (NYC). The patron saint of Immersive Theater. Sleep No More has been in continuously running at the McKittrick hotel in New York for 12 years, and that’s not even counting its previous iterations in London and Boston. There’s a reason why it has become a permanent staple on the immersive scene - no one has ever done immersive theater better.
THE BURNT CITY (London). This is kind of a cheat because of its similarity to Punchdrunk’s other masterwork: Sleep No More. But lobbing the two together would be a crime because of how amazing these works are, independent of each other. Burnt City is Punchdrunk’s latest creation, an open-world immersive theater production that loosely tells the story of the Iliad, in two massive connected warehouses in London. Seriously mindblowing.
WILD HEART RANCH (duh) (Joshua Tree, CA). Well, we made the list, so we can do what we want :P But to be real, the reason we built Wild Heart Ranch was to provide immersive experience fans with something we personally wish existed out in the world. An immersive experience you can stay in! While the Galactic Starcruiser opened about a year after us, there are extremely few experiences of this type around the world. Our aim is to offer an awesome narrative driven, fully interactive, exploratory (and optional) immersive experience, all within the comfort of a stylish Airbnb. When our guests arrived, they discover clues that soon immerse them in the story of the Hart Family and the magical powers they discovered at The Ranch. We have been blown away by the response of other guests who have visited Wild Heart Ranch, and we truly hope you get the chance to visit one day!