There's something strange in the neighborhood around Madame Tussauds in New York's Times Square. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! But not before the famed wax museum teams up with Sony Pictures and The Void to create the Ghostbusters Dimension, an exclusive hyper-reality experience that combines virtual reality, a physical space and your very own proton pack. Scheduled to open July 1, curious fans can get a taste of busting specters just in time for the movie release on July 15.
I had the opportunity to take a hard-hat tour of the not-quite-finished attraction and am definitely excited by the potential of unique experience — so much so that I'm willing to brave the tourist trap that is Times Square to catch a few boogeymen when Ghostbusters Dimension officially opens later this summer.
But before we get there, let's talk about hyper-reality. James Jensen, chief visionary officer of The Void, describes it as a cinematic VR experience — one that combines virtual reality with the real world in the form of props like walls, televisions, fans and even elevator buttons. Those physical accents give players roaming around the experience a familiar anchor as they maneuver around the virtual world, which helps eliminate simulation sickness that some people experience when they use other VR headsets.
In order to play like a Ghostbuster, you have to look the part. When the exhibit opens and you pay your $49.79, you'll be escorted into a line. While waiting your turn to capture spirits with two of your friends, you'll be prompted to create an avatar of your character. When it's time to start bustin', you'll head to a donning station, where you'll suit up in a vest with a futuristic backpack attached, a huge VR headset and of course a large glowing gun.
While The Void's proprietary headset is formidable — offering built-in binaural, 360-degree audio — the vest/backpack combo is the true star of the show. The vest has 21 haptic motors and positional sensors attached so when a ghost touches you, you'll know when and where. The backpack houses a desktop Intel Core i7 processor with Nvidia's latest chip, which powers the 3.3-pound computer supplying all the VR visuals. Speaking of weight, the whole get-up weighs about 11 pounds.
Although the experience wasn't ready during my tour, I had the opportunity to walk through the physical setting and get a general idea of what visitors will encounter. You'll catch your first apparition in a very good approximation of a cramped New York City apartment, moving on to a haunted elevator; along the way, you'll encounter several baddies from the movies.
When you're done sending ghosts to the containment unit, you and your friends will leave the exit and check out your group and individual stats on a large video wall to egg on that competitive spirit, which Madame Tussauds hopes will get you to spend $50 for another go-round to improve your score. And honestly, based on my experience, the museum might get its wish.