After seeing the original Ghostbusters film in 1984, I imagine many of you, like me, shared thoughts of how cool it would be if you could don a giant proton pack and head out on a mission to bust some ghosts. Well, after many years where we could only live that out in our minds or in several mediocre video games, the time is finally here. Yes, you read that correctly! For those in the New York City or Toronto areas, Ghostbusters: Dimensions gives aspiring paranormal investigators a chance to live out their wildest Ghostbusting dreams. Opened in New York City’s famed Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in July of 2016, this amazing attraction resides within the Ghostbusters Experience section; although, it requires a specific ticket, so, when purchasing tickets, make sure you read which ticket you are purchasing to be sure you can enjoy this experience. The technology is supplied by The VOID, which is a high-tech virtual reality (VR) company that is also behind the Evermore Park project.
I was recently able to recently experience this attraction while friends from out of town were visiting, and we were all curious to see if the hype was real. I will go into some spoilers, so, if you want to experience this completely detail free, you may want to skip to the end of this article.
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What is Ghostbusters: Dimensions?
So, what is this attraction all about? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it technically begins in the really cool Ghostbusters Experience section of the wax museum. This, in its own right, is fantastic. The section is not only filled with incredible likenesses of the main characters from the 2016 reboot, for it also has some great high-tech projection technology. For example, have you ever wanted to hang out with everyone’s favorite class 5 full-roaming vapor affectionately known as Slimer? Well, you can at the Ghostbuster Experience! You can even trap him if you grow tired of his antics. You can spend a lot of time looking at all the cool detail in this area; however, my group and I were very excited to move on to the Dimensions attraction and see if the extra fee was worth it.
We made our way over to the podium where a quirky but entertaining staff member met us and began to check us in. We were led to a line of computer terminals where you enter in your name, sign the virtual waiver, and select your avatar from a few various male and female options. While waiting to go in, we viewed (repeatedly) the video on how to put on your proton pack and head gear. Don’t worry; if you miss anything, the staff inside the attraction helps you suit up. So, our group of 5 was split up into 2 groups – one group of 3 and one of 2. My wife Julie and I went in first along with our friend, Arielle, and we were quickly suited up and were given a set of instructions. First of all, I want to say that the gear is really impressive. You are provided with a full body vest and pack capable of haptic feedback (more on that later) and a replica proton blaster. Already, I am loving this attraction. You are then asked to check your headset which, when you do, gives you just a basic sample of the full immersion you are about to experience. After that, they tell you that you will soon put on your headgear for real, and, once you do, the door you see will open, and you begin your adventure. Oh, and what an adventure it is!
So, they have named this type of experience “Hyper Reality,” and it really does suit the term well. There is 100 percent complete sensory virtual immersion. The door (I mentioned before) that we need to go through is one you actually have to walk through. Yes, gone are the days of those old school Virtual Reality games where you would move your arm forward to or something along those lines to move your character forward. Nope, now it’s all on you. I must say that it’s definitely a little awkward at first; it’s hard to trust that physically moving forward will not send you walking head first into a wall. Once you give yourself into the experience, you just simply get carried away. Now, while I won’t give a complete walk through, I do want to give some highlights to truly explain how realistic this attraction is. The first scene you enter is in an apartment. Although you are seeing the virtual recreation, the actual set is there as well. So, if you see a chair, you can feel the actual chair that is there. Apparently, you can sit in it although, sadly, we didn’t find that out until afterwards. So, while it seems silly to design a set you never get to see with your own eyes, it adds to the realism which can really play with your senses. It’s all-the-more apparent in a sequence later on where you need to walk along a simulated ledge that has a metal railing, which again is there in actuality as well. It was so realistic that our friends Tim and Olivia, who went behind us, had said they were hesitant to move too quickly through that sequence.
A New Level of VR
If this was merely a walk-through VR experience, it would be impressive; however, you are a Ghostbuster after all, and you will need to put that proton pack and blaster to the test. So, relatively soon after you situate yourself within the apartment, you get some unwelcome visitors. We immediately fire our streams. This effect will simply blow you away. Whatever you hit with your beam will be affected. From the ghosts, to the decorations, to the walls – basically, whatever you see. Again, this is not limited to just in front of you, but behind, below, and above you too. Our room essentially became a multi-sensory explosion of visuals and sound. This continues throughout the approximately 10 minutes attraction in some really imaginative ways while mixing in some unbelievable real environmental effects. I would be remiss if I were not to mention how that vest you are wearing has some amazing haptic feedback. This shines the most when you are hit by an object hurled at you by any surly members of the afterlife. So, be prepared – if you are hit, you are sure to feel it. When we were finally finished blasting everything in sight, we were instructed to move on, and we would see that the room we were leaving was trashed in the most wonderful of ways. Oh, and make sure to really look around and experiment while you walk through the room as there are tasks you need to complete, and you don’t want to see any unchecked boxes on the “Scoreboard” at the end.
Now, while I would love to talk about all of the remaining scenes of the attraction, I do not want to spoil the excitement for those who get a chance to experience it on their own. It is so incredible and impressive; it could easily fit into a Disney or Universal-caliber park. From what I hear, they already have more additions to the technology and overall experience in the works, which only adds to the endless possibilities of this type of attraction. So, if you should find yourself in the New York City or Toronto areas (the second recently opened location), you would be doing yourself a disservice not to check this out. It is completely mind-blowing and an experience you won’t soon forget. So, who you gonna call?
[Feature image courtesy of The VOID.]