culture

Before the 'Stranger Things' Finale, Netflix Wants You to Experience It In-Person

Stranger Things may be airing its final season soon, but Netflix wants to expand the universe in different ways — and that includes sending fans to the Upside Down to experience it for themselves.
“It’s a really a way for us to let our fans see themselves more in the stories they love,” said Netflix vice president and head of experiences Greg Lombardo. “We have such a fanbase with these shows, and people want to experience more and more and more.”
Stranger Things: The Experience, which opened in New York City on May 7, takes people to the Hawkins Lab where they learn their superpowers. They then use their supernatural skills to help the characters from the retro sci-fi series, including battling a Demogorgon or two, along the way. 
Attendees will also get the chance to hang out in an '80s-style makeshift mall, complete with fast-food eateries, VHS stores, and other retail locations. There is plenty of photo opps, including an opportunity to sit on the infamous couch with the alphabet scrawled on the wall behind it, which the fictional character Joyce Byers (played by actress Winona Ryder in the show) used to communicate with her son Will when he was trapped in the Upside Down during Season One. 
“This is a series that taps into so many really wonderful elements,” Lombardo explained. “You've got the '80s, that nostalgia. I watch this with my 13-year-old son, and I’m able to regale him with stories of what it was like when I was a kid. He’s intrigued by, ‘What’s a Walkman?’ When he sees these things, it’s a really great way to unlock that sense of family.”
While the experience opened up in the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the 35,000-square-foot Duggal Greenhouse, the company has plans to bring it to other cities including San Francisco and London later this year. And, it’s not the only universe fans can visit. Netflix has also created enhanced escape rooms tied to its series Money Heist, as well as a formal ball linked to Bridgerton.
While there are no plans to open a theme park yet, Lombardo said there are plenty of great franchises that fans have taken to, like Squid Game, that could present opportunities for immersive events.
“All these offerings are just more ways for us to bring joy to fans and joy to our members,” Lombardo said. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to broaden and extend those stories that are on the service.” 
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