Journey into the Upside Down: Stranger Things comes to Seattle
By Gurjot Kang
Edited by Marian Mohamed
Stranger Things: The Experience is now open to the public located in the SODO area in Seattle. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
What happens when a portal to the Upside Down opens in Seattle? “Stranger Things: The Experience” is the answer.
As guests enter the location at 1750 Occidental Avenue—oops, I mean Hawkins Lab—they are transported back to the 1980s to embark on their very own adventure featuring some of the iconic sets from the hit Netflix show.
With surprising special effects and actors cast as part of the Stranger Things world, it’s easy to forget that this 45-minute immersive experience does not in fact take place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.
While standing in line for the experience, attendees are eerily welcomed by scientists, dressed in white lab coats, into Hawkins Lab as the latest group of test subjects in a ‘sleep study’ experiment. From then on, the journey into the strange begins as attendees find themselves starring in their very own episode of Stranger Things as the main characters.
From testing your telekinetic superpowers in the set of the ‘Rainbow Room’ to fighting off monsters in the Upside Down, this experience is the perfect adventure for friends and families. With creative props, special effects, and VR elements incorporated throughout, the experience doesn’t shy away from diving headfirst into the thrilling and mysterious sci-fi elements of the show, beloved by fans everywhere.
“‘Stranger Things: The Experience’ is a unique opportunity for fans to immerse themselves into the world of Stranger Things, enjoy the ‘80s nostalgia, and be the hero of their own adventure,” shared Isis Arias with GZR News. Arias works on marketing for live experiences at Netflix.
“This is incredibly unique to the Stranger Things franchise; the storyline that you’re following—you’ll see things you know from the show—aspects throughout the seasons. But the actual adventure that you’ll be partaking in is a completely new storyline we developed with the Duffer brothers,” said Arias. “If you get to the Upside Down, you’ll be incredibly surprised by how you need to get out of the Upside Down.”
After wrapping up the immersive experience, fans then have the opportunity to take a blast into the past and check out the colorful ‘80s-themed “Mix-Tape” room.
The Mix-Tape room is full of ‘80s nostalgia—paying homage to many fun elements from that decade. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Several elements in the Mix-Tape room were inspired by the set of the Starcourt Mall from season three of the show. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Reminiscent of the Starcourt Mall from season three of the show, the bright, neon set of the “Mix-Tape” room has plenty of nostalgic attractions to keep visitors entertained. In this area, fans can visit Joyce Byers’s iconic living room, with the alphabet lights wall, from season one and sit on the Byers’ couch, or snap a selfie with the menacing Vecna from season four. Just be careful not to stand too close to Vecna, unless you have your favorite song ready to ‘run up the hill’ and out of the Upside Down.
Sneak peek of the iconic set recreating Joyce Byers’s living room from season one of the show. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
The menacing Vecna awaits his next victim. Be careful not to stand too close. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
The “Mix-Tape” also has plenty of memorable shops and locations paying homage to the show. One such eatery is the “Scoops Ahoy!” ice cream parlour, former Starcourt Mall employers of Steve and Robin in season three of Stranger Things.
Customers wait in line for a scoop of ice cream at this dessert parlor from the show. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream—and definitely not because of demogorgons. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Surfer Boy Pizza ready to serve hot and fresh slices of pie in any dimension. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
For the adults in the room, the Mix-Tape also includes a bar, aptly named ‘The Upside,’ where you can enjoy specialty cocktails or mocktails inspired by the show, such as “Friends Don’t Lie,” “The Mall Rat,” “The Starcourt Special,” and “The Eleven.”
‘The Upside’ bar, located in the Mix-Tape room, serves specialty drinks inspired by the show. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
While enjoying a drink, there are also plenty of other things to check out, including exclusive merch items, a Starcourt photo booth, and some classic ‘80s arcade game machines, featuring Pac-Man and a Stranger Things themed pinball machine.
The Mix-Tape room is full of classic arcade games. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Compete with friends for the highest score at Space Invaders or the Stranger Things themed pinball machine. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
“We pick the most iconic environments,” said Arias. “We also have unique things here that you don’t see anywhere else. ‘The Upside’ is our very first ‘80s-themed bar [with] really awesome mocktails.”
Stranger Things inspired cocktails and mocktails are both available at ‘The Upside’ bar. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
‘Upside’ bartender pouring drinks right side up. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Arias also shared with GZR News what makes Seattle a great destination to open the latest rift into the Upside Down.
“Seattle has a very sort of great fandom here so that makes it a great city to bring it to,” said Arias. Other cities the experience has visited include New York, LA, San Francisco, Atlanta, Toronto, London, and Paris.
“We are really bringing this to fans where they are,” said Arias. “We know there are people who love Stranger Things but even more people that can explore this world. And we really love being in spaces where there’s lots of entertainment. So here in the area that we’re in, we’re down the block from the Mariners, the Seahawks. There’s other great immersive experiences that are happening, and so we wanted to really bring this unique opportunity to fans here.”
The experience includes plenty of opportunities for fans to gaze upon exclusive merch dedicated to their favorite moments from the show. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Outside the experience, the GZR crew got to catch up and chat with some eager fans of the show, Erika Arneson and Jimmy Johnson, about their thoughts on the experience.
Erika Arneson and Jimmy Johnson traveled down from Oregon. As fans of the show, they headed to the experience as one of their stops on a couples anniversary trip. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
For Arneson and Johnson, the couple from Oregon first found out about the experience after it popped up on Arneson’s Facebook feed one day. The two decided they just had to drive up to Seattle to take their very own trip into the Upside Down.
“I liked the part where we were in the main room and there was the [redacted, no spoilers here]! That was really cool; the technology behind that was awesome and that looked really real and 3D. I think that was my favorite part. They were really pawing at it and sniffing around,” said Arneson.
“I like the set-up. I like the first part—the person you meet first-–the scientist. He was very, very good,” said Johnson. “It was very engaging and the [redacted, don’t you wish you knew] coming out of the clock.”
For Johnson, visiting the ‘Mix-Tape’ room was a nostalgic, child-like experience.
“It was like being six or seven again,” said Johnson, laughing.
“I liked all the photo-ops in front of the sign and with Vecna,” said Arneson.
“VECNAAAA–not VoldemortTM!” added Johnson.
And in case you were wondering, Arneson and Johnson’s favorite characters from the show are ‘Dusty Bun’ and Max—who they may or may not have spotted in some aspects of the experience.
The GZR News crew also got to talk to some fans right before they stepped into the experience to catch a sense of their excitement.
For Erin and Connor Richards, their journey into the Upside Down began after spotting info about the experience on Instagram.
“We want to see the lab for sure,” said Connor. “The mall [elements] will be cool too.”
“Just everything,” said Erin. “Big fans!”
Connor’s favorite character is Steve, while as an Eleven stan, Erin hopes to channel some of the memorable character’s powers as they embark on their own heroic story adventure.
Erin and Connor Richards pose in front of the sign outside the experience. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
From across dimensions far and wide, the Stranger Things Experience in Seattle unites fans to venture into the twisted world of the pop culture phenomenon in this one-of-a-kind transportive trip you won’t want to miss.
“If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, you’re going to love being in the spaces you’ve seen on screen, but if you’re less familiar, you can still enjoy a really awesome experience,” said Arias. “Come ready to fully immerse yourself and channel all of your energy into unlocking your powers while you’re here.”
Interview with Isis Arias conducted by GZR reporter Antonio Nevarez.