If, like us, you’ve been starved of Stranger Things intrigue since the release of Season 4 a few months ago, then there’s no doubt about it: you’re going to want to make a beeline for the Stranger Things Experience at 1345 Montebello Blvd.
We recently had the opportunity to visit before it opened to the public, and found a winning combination of creepily thrilling adventure, amazing special effects, and an array of neon-lit Stranger Things locations recreated from the show. It’s an absolute must-try for fans that promises thrills, chills, and plenty of cracking photo ops, so let’s dive into what you can expect from Stranger Things: The Experience in L.A.
Tickets are available here, and you can read on for our Stranger Things Experience review!
The venue’s outside appearance doesn’t give too much away considering the wild ride you’re about to embark on — although admittedly there’s an excellent first selfie opportunity to be had with the Stranger Things sign out there. Once you’re inside though, the intrigue ramps up pretty quickly. The official party line — one that a nifty cameo appearance from Paul Reiser’s Dr Owens explains — is that Hawkins Lab has reopened, inviting you inside to take part in a sleep study that’ll help improve the lives of Hawkins residents.
Of course, once you’re inside the lab, it becomes pretty swiftly apparent that the likes of Dr Brenner have ulterior motives for bringing you here. Now who would have guessed that? As the experience progresses, you’ll discover the secrets of the lab, form new alliances with familiar faces, and use skills you didn’t even know you had. You’ll need them, because a brand new adventure into the Upside Down to save a beloved member of the gang awaits you here.
We’re not into spoiling, so we won’t share too much of the plot here, but let’s just say that it’s an entirely original storyline you won’t have seen on the Netflix show. Oh, and while the practical effects and cameos from everyone’s favorite Demogorgon-hunters are fun, it’s the special effects that really add the wow factor. One jump scare in particular had our group gasping with excitement, and leaving you in no doubt that a trip into the Upside Down isn’t a walk in the park. Especially with a very threatening villain on the loose…
Having escaped the clutches of the Demogorgons, we were then let loose in the ‘Mix-Tape Area’, which is a glorious neon-drenched playground of Stranger Things locations and 80s nostalgia. The gamers in our group made a beeline for the Palace Arcade, for a bit of button-bashing on the likes of Space Invaders and Joust (there’s no Dig Dug here, but it’s not like we had a chance of beating MADMAX’s score anyway). Elsewhere, you’ll be able to explore the Family Video store where Steve and Robin spend their day, or head to Rink-O-Mania to look through the exclusive merchandise. Speaking of merchandise, you may want to save your pocket money for a visit here, because there’s an entire wardrobe of Stranger Things apparel up for grabs. For starters, we absolutely need one of those hot pink Rink-O-Mania jackets!
The photoshoot opportunities here in the Mix-Tape are particularly plentiful; fans are absolutely going to want to snap a selfie in the Byers’ living room with that infamous wall of Christmas lights behind them. Take a little hunt around the area and you’ll find costumes and props from the show, including Steve Harrington’s infamous baseball bat and a giant fan-favorite mural of our fav, Eddie Munson.
One of the standouts at Stranger Things: The Experience has to be the food spots. Maybe it was our rumbling stomachs after our time in the lab (escaping demons is hungry work), but to be confronted with the sight of Surfer Boy Pizza serving up giant slices was heavenly. Even sweeter was the trip to Scoops Ahoy, where we set sail on an ocean of flavor: pecan caramel, in case you’re wondering. Oh, and The Upside cocktail bar is a must-visit for their range of themed cocktails.
You could happily spend a couple of hours (and with all that merch, plenty of money) in the Mix-Tape, and so it proved for our team. Flushed with a successful escape from Hawkins lab, and waddling a little from all that pizza and ice-cream, we headed home with plenty of pictures and memories as keepsakes from our trip to Hawkins. Remember: friends don’t lie, so trust us when we say that it’s a spectacular thrill-ride that fans of the show need to visit!