By Cassandra Yany
Stranger Things: The Drive Into Experience recently opened in downtown Los Angeles, giving fans the opportunity to enter the world of the hit Netflix series from the safety of their cars. Hidden on Alameda Street, the socially distant event transports you back to 1985 to attend the Hawkins High School Reunion.
The socially-distant experience begins as you pull into the illuminated parking lot of the Starcourt Mall and tune into the FM radio station where you can hear all of the audio for the event. The pre-show is hosted by Hawkins Middle School science teacher turned emcee, Mr. Clark. The event is immersive right from the start, with Mr. Clark engaging drivers and passengers in different activities such as trivia, a lip sync challenge and a best-dressed contest.
Eighties music blasts through car speakers as vehicles are directed by parking lot attendants disguised as Lynx employees from season three of the series. After guests have their tickets scanned, they are given a menu to order food and beverages directly to their car. Drivers and passengers can place their order online and will be helped by a server dressed as a Scoops Ahoy employee.
Every aspect of the event is themed, even with face masks being attributed to a “chemical leak” that had occurred in Hawkins. While you are waiting to get into the experience, you can watch Mr. Clark host the event from the stage, and you may even see Eleven or Max amongst the crowd. Mike, Lucas and Will weave through the cars on their bicycles and you might even get the chance to interact with them.
When it is your turn to enter the experience, you drive past the Starcourt Mall, and into a parking garage where the remainder of the event takes place. As you are entering, Chief Hopper and Murray can be heard over the radio discussing how they have to save Dustin who is stuck under the mall.
As you enter the experience, you are first greeted by Steve and Robin as Dustin tries to save them from the Russian soldiers who have infiltrated Hawkins and are stationed underneath Starcourt. In the process of doing this, Dustin accidentally released the demogorgon, who is chased through the cars until Steve is successfully able to trap it back into the Upside Down. The trio then enlists drivers and passengers to go and find the mindflayer.
The next scene brings guests into what looks like the Upside Down where cars are surrounded by eerie red lights and other-worldly sets. Screens depict the mindflayer leaving Will’s body at the end of season two and entering Billy’s during season 3. Soldiers then come around, searching throughout the cars and shining their flashlights into windows.
The third and final scene leads guests to the roof of the parking garage where the set is made up of a large stage and multiple screens. Billy emerges as the mindflayer from under the stage, and is joined by the other Hawkins residents who have also been “flayed.” Eleven then enters the scene and tries to fight the monster, as the audience is given a look at her past throughout the series.
After an intense battle where Eleven flies above the crowd, she is victorious in defeating the mindflayer and is embraced on stage by her friends, and greeted by her past self. As the characters exit the stage, the sound of a news station talking about the mysterious events at the mall plays through car speakers.
Just as you think the experience is over, Dustin and his long-distance girlfriend from science camp, Suzie recreate what is arguably one of the most iconic scenes from the series. From opposite ends of the stage, the couple sing the theme song from the 1894 film The NeverEnding Story, just as they do in the last episode of season 3, creating the perfect, feel-good ending to this one-of-a-kind experience.
As you exit the experience, guests are given the opportunity to purchase exclusive merchandise.
This event truly makes guests feel as if they have been placed in an episode of Stranger Things, caught up in the action of Hawkins and the Upside Down. It is the perfect way for super fans to come together safely as a community and feel that they are part of the beloved show.
The drive into experience is presented by Netflix and Fever with Secret Cinema. Prices for the event vary depending on which day and time customers are purchasing tickets for. Standard Access includes admission and access to the Hawkins Online Portal prior to the event where you can create your student profile. In addition to this, VIP Access includes a special welcome to the event, faster entry and a mystery box containing merchandise, snacks and beverages.
Guests remain in their car throughout the experience and masks are worn by employees at all times and by drivers and passengers when speaking to the staff. The event is currently scheduled to take place through Sunday, March 7.