Exotic Attractions, Art, and Entertainment Connect in AREA15
A new venue in Las Vegas, Nevada blends a unique and enthralling attraction with art, entertainment, rides, and retail, in an experience that bends the definition of a family entertainment center (FEC).
Named AREA15, the 200,000-square-foot complex opened in September offering what the FEC describes as “immersive attractions, monumental art installations, socially distanced activations, extraordinary design elements, unique retail, ground-breaking technology, bars, eateries, and much more.” Located minutes from the famous Las Vegas Strip, the mostly indoor venture introduces a new kind of FEC.
AREA15 describes itself as a first-of-its-kind experiential art and entertainment complex. CEO Winston Fisher and co-founder Michael Beneville want the family-friendly AREA15 to be a stand-alone attraction. Fisher stresses the attraction is not designed to fit into existing shopping malls in an to attempt to stem a retail center’s losses to online merchandising.
“We are building an experience box,” he says. “AREA15 is a purpose-built FEC. We were not trying to fix something that was broken, like a shopping mall. It’s evolving and will evolve.”
Fisher tells Funworld each attraction selected for the FEC was purposefully picked to provide an eclectic mix of experiences. “They’re brought about by our Activations Department,” says Fisher. “We’ve got ‘Birdly,’ the virtual reality (VR) experience where you feel you’re flying. We have an augmented reality (AR) experience called ‘Particle Quest,’ where you rent a dystopian welding mask we designed—we also invented the AR technology in the mask—and people walk around and discover the secret story of AREA15 and play a game. We’ve also got a two-track indoor powered zip line, where people fly 30 feet in the air over everything.”
“Birdly” is intriguing, since the VR attraction can’t be replicated in visitors’ homes—they need to visit, which is the goal of AREA15. Created by Somniacs AG, “Birdly,” AREA15 says, captures every aspect of avian flight, from the wind beneath a bird’s wings to spectacular views of some of the most vivid landscapes imaginable. Guests soar through the skies over New York or Singapore, explore prehistoric worlds, and test their flying abilities in a futuristic racing game.
“I’d seen ‘Birdly’ in other places and done it, and it’s really fun,” Fisher says. “You’re flapping your arms and making yourself fly, and it has multiple programs and can be customized. But we built this psychedelic bird’s nest around it. It’s something really unusual.”
Another experience Fisher is excited about is “Haley’s Comet,” which AREA15 says is the first indoor electric dual-track suspension ride in the United States. The “hang-gliding, free-falling, zip lining, roller coaster hybrid” pits two riders against each other in a race over The Spine, a corridor AREA15 says is its backbone and features art installations, retail, and food and beverage offerings. AREA15 worked with Walltopia to create the powered zip line.
Another starkly unconventional experience is “Dueling Axes,” featuring 18 ax-throwing lanes, each accommodating as many as six guests who try to score a bull’s-eye on each throw. “We’re fanatical about quality because we’re a brand, and we’re going to expand,” Fisher explains, hinting additional locations are planned. Before new venues open, much more is planned for AREA15 in 2021.
Art and entertainment collective Meow Wolf is opening its second permanent exhibition, named Omega Mart, in early 2021 at AREA15. Meow Wolf says the exhibit will be “an interactive superstore where things are not quite as they seem.” The 52,000-square-foot exhibition is more than three years in the making and will feature the work of hundreds of artists.
Also coming to AREA15 is the Lost Spirits Distillery, Emporium bar and arcade, Rocket Fizz candy shop, the Intel Innovation Hub, Wink World, and The Beast Food Hall by Todd English.
In addition, a planned Areobar from Aerophile will lift guests into the sky. “In the front of AREA15, we’re going to build this 132-foot-tall tower, and 16 people will sit around it hanging, but strapped in, of course, and they’ll be looking at The Strip,” Fisher says.
While mandated COVID-19 precautions are in place in Las Vegas, AREA15 is following the guidelines and has implemented measures, such as limiting capacity. Guests wishing to visit AREA15 must make reservations, which are free since the venue’s attractions and other experiences are pay-as-you-go.
Watch a head-scratching preview of the unique Omega Mart at IAAPA.org/OmegaMart.