Let’s be honest, 2020 is a hellfire year. Who wouldn’t want to travel back in time to the 80s to when things were better, much simpler, and also…stranger.

And that is just what I was able to do, thanks to Netflix and Fever, when I went through the Stranger Things: The “Drive-Into” Experience. COVID has forced a lot of companies to get creative these days, and while there is a plethora of drive through events in the area, I have to say…this is by far one of the best.

You don’t have to be a fan of the show to get into the action, as they do an excellent job of setting up the story right off the bat. As soon as you pull into ROW DTLA (where the event takes place and one of my favorite LA venues), you are instantly transported back in time to the 80s for the Hawkins High reunion. Regular admission cars get pulled into a line to await their story while VIP ticket holders go through the “car wash” (which, in reality, is just a cleverly disguised photo station, in which the theming is top notch).

After that, you pull into the Starcourt Mall parking lot for some pre-show festivities. Normally, this would be the part of most experiences where I would be bored out of my mind. However, they did an excellent job of keeping us entertained before we went in…almost to the point where I didn’t want to leave!

From the comfort of your car, you tune in (via FM radio) to the show frequency while Mr. Clarke, the science teacher from Hawkins Middle School, is hosting the festivities from the stage up front, while Mike, Will, Lucas, Eleven, and Max roam the crowd. There are dance contests, story moments, strange occurrences, and more to be had here.

I have to say, the cast was impressive as hell here. Everyone was hyped up for the “reunion” and happy to be there. Each character we encountered, from the main cast to other actors, were fun to interact with and truly made us all feel like part of the show. This sort of thing isn’t easy, but the cast really did make it feel like everyone was welcome, interacting with every single car. We played games, we laughed a lot, and truly had a great time. Hell, after Mike and Eleven break up, Max even tried to hook her up with my son (who was sitting in the back seat of the car). The level of immersion here was really great!

And best of all, it was all COVID safe! Guests were not allowed to leave their car, and if their windows were down for any reason (interacting with characters, ordering food, etc), masks had to be on. Every cast member we encountered was wearing a mask and face shield as well, making us all feel extremely safe. Kudos to them for making that work.

The only downside of this section was the waiting. We were in this pre-show, slowly moving forward, for about an hour, so be prepared for that. That said, again, it was highly entertaining and very well done, so that hour will fly by before you know it.

Once it was our time, we went for our “mall tour” with another set of vehicles. I was curious how they were going to pull this off, but Stranger Things: The “Drive-Into” Experience did an amazing job of converting the ROW’s massive parking garage into something incredible.

Obviously, I do not want to give anything away, but I WILL say that I was incredibly impressed at how they were able to not only put on an incredible show, but were able to do so from the safety of our own cars. Even though we never got out of them, I STILL feel like we were part of the action. Every scene we encountered, the actors truly made us feel like we were there with them. There was a lot of interactivity, from both the main cast (Steve!!!! And, you know, everyone else who wasn’t in the pre-show opening) and the secondary characters.

And once we got to the Upside Down…oooooh boy, what a moment that was! Basically, this entire thing is a re-telling of Season 3 of the show, and over the course of the next hour, we were immersed in all Hawkins, Indiana had to offer. Through action, incredible effects, and Demogorgons, Stranger Things came to life before our eyes. It was really well done (and even a few scares along the way…they got me good!).

A big reason for the success here is because of Secret Cinema. I’ve read countless articles and watched many videos about the events they put on. I have never made it to the UK to experience them for myself, but since they are behind the creative direction here, it’s obvious why they do what they do so well. Kudos to them for teaming with Netflix and Fever to pull this off.

Stranger Things: The “Drive-Into” Experience is everything I wanted a driving experience to be. Way back when, when companies started to announce things like this, this is exactly what I envisioned. Unfortunately, not many have been able to produce events of this caliber, but I am so happy I was able to see this come to life. I love the show, and this was a perfect way to experience it for the Halloween season and beyond.

Tickets for the Stranger Things: The “Drive-Into” Experience are on sale now, and are pretty much sold out through January. BUT, you can still get tickets for then, so head on over to www.strangerthingsdriveinto.com to grab your tickets. If you’re already going this year, you’re in luck! And if you have to wait until 2021, well…at least then the new year will start on a good note!

About the Author: Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff Heimbuch writes. A lot. On a variety of things and in different mediums. He also created the fiction podcasts LIGHT HOUSE and RETURN HOME (of which you can find both on all podcasting platforms), loves all things horror, works in social media, and is probably writing something right now. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok at @jeffheimbuch.
By Published On: October 29, 2020Categories: Immersive TheatreComments Off on REVIEW: Head Into The Upside Down With Stranger Things: The “Drive-Into” ExperienceTags: , , , , ,