Could Pop-Up Events Represent The Next Big Entertainment Trend?

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Sunday, August 9th, 2015

The Marvel Experience Pop Up Event

Could pop-up entertainment experiences built around pop culture franchises be one of the next big trends in entertainment design? The Marvel Experience and its success suggests that just might be the case. Stan Lee’s iconic cameos and the proliferation of Marvel films that are flooding movie theaters have underscored the popularity of comic-based brands with today’s audiences. The Marvel franchise includes a lineup of superheroes like the X-Men, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, which have long been fan favorites. The Marvel Experience tour is a pop-up event that blends storytelling, technology, and immersive theming to engage comic book fans. It’s been on tour all summer in cities around the U.S. and its success has raised an important question: could this be a sustainable model for other attractions?

The premise fits in perfectly to the Marvel Universe. As agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in training, “guests of The Marvel Experience swing with Spider-Man, smash with Hulk, fly with Iron Man and more, all in preparation for an epic battle alongside Marvel’s biggest Super Heroes in a fight against Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K. and an army of evil Adaptoids.” The Marvel Experience incorporates next-gen interactive technology including augmented reality and multi-person gaming that allows guests to compete with each other and interact with the story. In addition to the latest technology, the Experience also features advanced computer animation.

Guests at Marvel Experience Pop Up Events

The show’s heroes and villains are digitally projected in 2-D, 360-degree, 3-D stereoscopic projection, and motion ride environments. The team producing the show has collaborated with Hollywood’s top animators to bring Marvel’s characters to life in hyper realistic style. More than 20 of the leading Marvel characters are featured, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Spider-Man.

The Marvel Experience previewed successfully in Arizona, before going on the road. The Experience generally takes 2 – 3 hours to complete and features seven Domes, a state-of-the-art motion ride and a training center. The attraction is complemented with themed cafes and retail. Its post-summer tour schedule is expected to be announced in the months ahead.

Standalone Marvel Experience pop up event

While the attraction itself stands out as both creative and engaging, the business model is particularly interesting when considering the current context of the theme park industry. Pop-up attractions aren’t new. Touring exhibits have long been a part of the museum world and the same model works for Halloween attractions around the country. Yet there’s been an increasing focus in recent years on the scale of most entertainment design projects. We’re in an age of mega projects, where developers in many markets – especially in the burgeoning Asia region – are focusing on multi-billion dollar projects. Today’s latest developments feature multiple parks, resorts, dining, and retail. Theme parks rides alone often cost millions to develop, so many smaller cities and regions don’t have the economic base needed to support their development and sustainability.

Pop-up events build on the foundation that was established by circuses generations ago. Develop an entertainment concept and travel to bring it to audiences that are hungry for more options. In the case of museum exhibits, artifacts can be collected and transported between locations. But what’s changed is the context of what’s possible, in the face of both cultural and technological innovations. Today’s pop culture landscape is richer than ever before. At the same time, technology has dramatically changed our ability to deliver complex, specialized experiences that deeply engage guests. From high quality animation to full-fledged storytelling, it’s possible to transport guests to whole new worlds with a minimum of physical space or static development. Pop-up events and attraction will likely continue to evolve and become increasingly popular, allowing entertainment designers to take on exciting new projects while offering audiences the chance to experience a diversity of entertainment options.


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