The [6] Wonders of the Imaginative World (?)

In today’s post I thought I’d share so real life places I’d like to do/have enjoyed. These real places are related to the immersive entertainment and marketing area many of us are in. They are experiences that, unlike many of the online works that many people refer to all the time, you actually have to go to! While there are many wonderful museums, wonders of architecture and of course wonders of nature, I thought I’d highlight an unusual mix of places and events related to the wacky area of immersive entertainment and marketing. Here are some to get the list going. I’d love to hear of places or events you love.

BMW Event and Delivery Center

Now this may seem like a weird item to include in such a list, but I have my reasons. A few years ago, BMW commissioned this Event and Delivery Center to create an experience of picking-up your new car like no other. Here are some the objectives published a few years before it was built:

The BMW Group is planning to build a centre for brand experience and vehicle delivery. Customers from all over the world will be invited to take possession of their new BMW automobile personally and enjoy an unforgettable live experience of the BMW brand in an atmosphere of exclusivity. (BMW AG, Brandscaping, 30)

The BMW Event and Delivery Center is designed to stage the handover of the new vehicle to the customer as an unforgettable event. […] To fascinate visitors requires more than just high-quality functionalism — it calls for an astounding sequence of spatial experiences, creating a theatre for the dramatization of customer service. To trigger excitement, curiousty must first be aroused: a sense that there is something to be discovered, that you are entering unexplored territory. Visitors must be amazed — before the familiar miracles of the BMW brand convey message of reliability. (Zaha Hadid, 3rd Prize, Brandscaping, 44)

I just love the whole idea of going to a big event, even if it is for a car. Gee, if I bought a BMW (wouldn’t mind one actually), I’d make the trip to have this delivery event too!. Though, when we get back to the big picture. Why aren’t delivery wards in hospitals given so much attention? Is there any miracle greater than the birth of a human being? Hmmm. In the meantime, I reckon this delivery center would be fun!

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion

I haven’t experienced this theme ride (I’ve watched videos of it though — FYI: you can buy DVDs of all the rides everywhere in the world), but all the reports I’ve read by theme park designers is that this is one of the most respected. In terms of theme park design, every aspect of the experience, the staff, thrills, narrative and so on are all well put together.

Universal Studios’ T2 2-D: Battle Across Time

The Terminator ride at Universal Studios is on my to-do list for a few reasons. The main one being that it is the third part of the Terminator narrative! This experience was directed by James Cameron, features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Robert Patrick. It is, and I have many quotes from Cameron and others, the story that Cameron would of told if he did the third Terminator film. This ride isn’t an adaptation of the Terminator 2 story, it tells the story after it. It is the ending of the Terminator series. Arck, there is so much I could say about this (and I do in my thesis). And hey, if you really wanted to know what happens the video of the 3D sequences are on the web. But for now, I’m keen to experience this live — the shebang (preshow, specially-designed seating and 3D sequences, actors and so on).

The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Gosh. I went to this museum with my mate Mark Marino last year when I visited California. I had no idea what I was in for. It was amazing. If ever you want to understand the experience that some people associate with ‘alternate reality games’ (well, the early ones), then this is the place for you. It seems like any museum. A museum of weird objects, but a museum nevertheless. But then a rising uneasiness grips you. You can no-longer tell what is real and what is fake. To really set the scene, here is a quote from Wikipedia:

The museum claims to have a “specialized repository of relics and artifacts from the Lower Jurassic, with an emphasis on those that demonstrate unusual or curious technological qualities.” This explains the museum’s name and also suggests its puzzling nature, since the Lower Jurassic ended more than 150 million years before the appearance of hominoids and in particular before anything that could be called technology (see geologic time scale). (Wikipedia)

I spent hours and hours there and still did not see everything. It is quite deceptive. You think you’ve seen every room but then you find another small corridor, and yet another and another. A real rabbit warren. I also have the DVD documentary and catalogue — which are works of fantastic fiction in themselves.

Ghibli Museum

I’m a fan of Studio Ghibli and their beautiful animated films as I’m sure many of you are. But did you know they’ve also created a museum? The Executive Director of the Museum, Hayao Miyazaki, has published the design philosophy for the museum, part of which is here:

I kind of museum I want to make!:

A museum that is interesting and which relaxes the soul
A museum where much can be discovered
A museum based on a clear and consistent philosophy
A museum where those seeking enjoyment can enjoy, those seeking to ponder can ponder, and those seeking to feel can feel
A museum that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered! (source)

DanCoyote’s ZeroG SkyDancers

DanCoyote is a creator in the online virtual world Second Life. One of his works is the immensely popular (and hard to get the chance to experience) ZeroG SkyDancers. I know I included only real life places and events in my initial description, but I think this qualifies as an ‘experience’. It is described at the NMC as follows: 

Second Life’s history making, critically acclaimed world performance group, the ZeroG SkyDancers is a new form of ensemble performance that uses the airspace of this virtual world, resulting in a cross between water ballet and aerial acrobatics, in ways that would not be possible in the physical world. Wearing spectacular, flowing costumes called cascades – that are many times larger than their avatars – the SkyDancers move through space, and become part of the stage themselves. Altering and evolving, their flight triggers audio samples, which provide a unique layer to the original musical score commissioned for the production.  (source)

Now, these are certainly not the only places one can include in this wacky category I’ve created. There are others that are yet to jump back to my memory. I’d love to hear of any you have experienced, or would like to experience.


Riewoldt, O., Ed. (2002) Brandscaping: Worlds of Experience in Retail Design = Erlebnisdesign für Einkaufswelten. Basel ; Boston, MA, Birkhauser-Publishers for Architecture.

2 Replies

  • I’ve been to every one of these sans the BMW event (yeah, I’d take one of those, too). The Ghibli was by far the most sublime, with a heavy, HEAVY emphasis on interaction. It was like a big, overstuffed romper room where it was equally amazing to watch kids run rampant without any penalty as it was to take in the design. Which, of course, is part of the design itself.

    As for T2-3d, I’ve done that one several times. It held up well about 12 years ago, but not so much more recently. Not necessarily worth a trip in its own right but hey– if you happen to find yourself in Orlando with some time to kill….

  • You’ve done them all (sans BMW)?! Great! I wish I had seen T2-3D a while ago. But it will be interesting nevertheless. Really can’t wait to see Ghibli now!

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