There isn't exactly a shortage of immersive experiences this Halloween, each one promising to terrify, overwhelm, and entertain you in unique and unexpected ways.
But while many of these experiences adhere to the typical model of a haunted house (or haunted house-like) walk-through or escape room, one company is using technology to push beyond the boundaries of what can physically be created, and into new, positively mind-blowing dimensions. And what's more -- it utilizes some beloved IP, but gives it a wholly unique spin. It's called the Ghostbusters Dimension and you can experience it at The VOID, nationwide. Talk about a spooky Halloween treat.
So, to break it down, Ghostbusters Dimension is a wholly immersive VR experience. After you sign your waiver, you go into a holding room that looks a lot like the opening scenes of "Edge of Tomorrow," with large backpacks hanging from the ceiling alongside a helmet with goggles and what you'll soon find out is a "wireless" ghost-zapping gun. After you're geared up, you enter a room and are given an explanation by none other than Dan Aykroyd that, while you are now technically a Ghostbuster, your first mission is to go get him coffee. (This preamble was clearly recorded at Aykroyd's Ghost Corps office on the Sony lot, and it's pretty unclear whether he's supposed to be Dan Aykroyd or his "Ghostbusters" character, Ray Stantz.)
Anyway, he gives you some background information on an incredibly haunted building nearby, although why you would need this information on a routine coffee run is beyond me.
Needless to say, you exit the pre-show area and are immediately enveloped in the world of "Ghostbusters." You fire energy blasts at floating ghouls, at one point are asked to "cross the streams" (yes!) and encounter a very familiar ghost during the experience's climax that honestly blew my mind. Throughout the experience, you are immersed -- you see your teammates as they struggle with their own supernatural beasts, feel the jolting vibration of a spirit passing through you, and watch as your world changes. (You can even smell certain things, although to talk about what, exactly, would ruin some of the fun and surprise.)
If you've experienced the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience at The VOID, which debuted at Walt Disney World in 2017 and at other locations this year, then you should probably know that this "Ghostbusters" experience was developed before that one. It could arguably be said that they learned a lot from the Ghostbusters development and put that into the "Star Wars" variant, particularly when it comes to story and how to stretch out certain moments beyond merely pointing and shooting. (It definitely felt shorter and more prototypical than Secrets of the Empire.)
Also, you can tell that it hangs, precipitously, between two "Ghostbusters" eras, since the classic films are referenced alongside the 2016 remake. (The uniforms and Proton Packs glimpsed during the experience are those from the 2016 film.) Obviously, what's going on with the franchise right now is anybody's guess, but the high profile, interconnected plans for movies and TV shows seem to have fallen by the ectoplasm-splattered wayside.
Not that any of this gets in the way of the pure, unadulterated fun of the experience. For many of us, "Ghostbusters" was an essential part of growing up and part of that was pretending to be a Ghostbuster. I had a friend who had all of the accessories -- the plastic proton pack and the little trap that you could open by stepping on a small gauge that would pop it open, ready to contain your imaginary poltergeist.
And while the franchise has taken on many permutations, some of them more experiential than others (like the pretty-cool live stage show from the early days of Universal Studios Orlando), none have been able to put you in the ghoul-hunting mode of an actual Ghostbuster. All of that has changed with this VOID experience.
The VOID makes you genuinely feel like you are one of the team, as you look around a Manhattan apartment building being terrorized by floating specters, see a hellish portal open up above a posh sky rise, and take aim against one of the most iconic movie foes of all time. Also, you get slimed by Slimer. How cool is that?
If you haven't experienced The VOID yet, well, you should. Slowly this year, the technology has been expanding (we powered up our proton packs at the Glendale Galleria in California). Soon, it will be close enough to you where you'll have no excuses. This is very much the future of themed entertainment, and one of the most fun experiences you can have this Halloween.
So strap on those proton packs and get to work.