'Alita: Battle Angel – Passport to Iron City' Immersive Experience Transports You to a Cyberpunk Dystopia
“I’ve never seen such ‘orrible scrapping in my life.”
A man sporting a Hawaiian shirt and a strong Cockney accent berates me for me slow work in the scrapyard, which isn’t really a scrapyard but a small booth filled with piles of metal scrap and hidden clues. Find the most valuable piece of scrap and win the most credits is the game, and it’s easy to get caught up in it. I find a weird, rusty contraption with a plug. “Read the small print on the outlets,” the ethereal long-haired woman in a silk kimono robe gently nudges to me. I plug it in and a series of numbers appear, which turn out to be the code for a safe harboring the most precious piece of scrap at all.
This is one of the various activities at New York City’s Alita: Battle Angel – Passport to Iron City, an immersive event that promises to drop you into the world of James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez‘s sci-fi epic, Alita: Battle Angel. Created by 20th Century Fox in collaboration with iam8bit and the Seeley Group, Passport to Iron City is part Escape Room, part theme park, and all fun — regardless of whether or not you’re planning to see the movie.
In an unremarkable warehouse off Driggs Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a whole cyberpunk dystopian world awaits. Populated by colorful characters wearing outfits that look like they’ve been cobbled together from multiple Final Fantasy games, Alita: Battle Angel – Passport to Iron City is a transportive event that immerses you in the world first created by Yukito Kishiro in his 1990 manga series.
Walking into the 12,000-square foot “market,” the attention to detail is immediately apparent — rusty pipes snake around the walls of the warehouse, peeling signs advertise the utopian floating city of Zalem, bright fabrics drape the eight booths that each offer different “games” to visitors. In one booth, you search for outlaws on a group of security monitors, in another you attempt to guess the smells in various vials. In yet another you can play a game of musical whack-a-mole, in which your team of six man the rickety keyboards and drums that light up. The doctor in one booth flirts with you while testing your team’s camaraderie through a series of hand-eye coordination tasks. But apart from the standing booths, Passport to Iron City also offers an inscrutable sidequest which requires you to solve a series of puzzles hidden throughout the market.
The goal: to earn as many credits as possible, and your team’s winnings displayed on a scoreboard at the front of the market. It all culminates in the Motorball Stadium racing event (which for sure is rigged), in which your team can gamble all your credits for a shot at the No. 1 prize.
Built and designed by the production designers of the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel feature film, the event allows visitors to “interact and breathe and smell a movie set, and immerse in that world,” Jon M. Gibson of iam8bit said. No prior knowledge of the movie or the world is needed, but maybe it will “embolden you to see the film,” Gibson hinted. Game designer Eric Meyer helped design the vibrant world of the Iron City event, which in addition to the New York location, opens soon in two other locations in Los Angeles and Austin.
The Passport to Iron City experience is available for a limited time only, starting in Los Angeles on January 23, 2019, New York on January 26, 2019, and Austin on January 29, 2019. Tickets can be purchased here.
Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters on February 14, 2019.
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