Trolls – demonic creatures living on bridges or harassers on the Internet – are usually not such a good thing to encounter.
But what the blockbuster children's film, Trolls, and its new iteration as an immersive experience are a good thing indeed: for kids and families excited about the Trolls property, and for the creators of “Trolls: The Experience.”
Based on the film's story, the attraction opened this past autumn in New York City, and marks a first-time collaboration between these three amusement powerhouses: Universal Brand Development, Feld Entertainment, and 3D Live.
“Trolls: The Experience” is based upon the 2016 Dreamworks film, and focuses on taking attendees along a “rainbow path” and essentially “into” the world of the film. It will complete a 6-month-run in New York, then tour across the U.S.
In NYC, it occupies the former Society House of the American Society of Civil Engineers, an historic landmark at 220 W. 57th Street in mid-town. Designed by Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, the 1890s-era French Renaissance Revival building has been transformed into a vibrant and glittering world of Trolls.
The experience is musical in nature, just like the film. Visitors sing and dance while helping to party-plan a “Best Day Ever!” event, just as if they were a part of the film. They'll have a celebration with Troll characters, eventually meeting up with the movie's heroine, Poppy. Guests will hear songs from the film, including the film's big hit, “Can't Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake at the 3D party-finale of the attraction.
According to Feld Entertainment show director James Shea, “The addition of the storyline element of this experience is something that sets DreamWorks ‘Trolls: The Experience' apart from any other walk-though experience in the market.” He adds that up to 240 guests per hour can move through the attraction, which translates to 60 guests entering “Trolls: The Experience” every quarter hour. Tickets are $40 per person for all attendees over the age of 2, and must be purchased in advance for timed admission.
3D Live developed new content using its proprietary 3D display technology; working with NEC Display Solutions of America, the company also utilizes LED technology in the attraction. The 3D creates a holographic effect in the grand finale celebration that the rest of the walk-through leads up to. The realism of the holograms is a strong part of the attraction's draw.
Christian Dieckmann, chief strategy officer for 3D Live, notes “Our techniques for polarizing are a proprietary technology.” While theater-viewers may have experienced 3D through polarized glasses and a film projection system, here the company uses an LED display as the light source and polarizes the light directly from the screen. “We're able to get extreme 3D, and guests will notice an extreme 3D depth,” he stresses. The depth can only be experienced through the LEDs rather than a standard projection; viewers wear 3D glasses in the “Trolls: The Experience” attraction, just as they would in a theater, but here the viewing results are more realistic. In the attraction's 10 x 25-foot celebration-theme room, the holograms utilize a whopping 1.5 million pixels.
Dieckmann stresses that the room serves as a grand finale to the attraction. “They'll see the 3D characters, but also what we call ‘negative z moments,' such as when it looks like things are coming out of the screen and into the room.”
Overall, “Trolls: The Experience” is divided into a number of different experiential zones for visitors to enjoy. It takes up 12,000-square-feet in its home at the historic mid-town building, and is positioned on multiple floors. Vibrant, custom-mix paint colors, glitter, fur, fabric, and more decorate the rooms in day-glow brightness.
The experience begins with “Hair We Go,” where a team of stylists known as Glitter Gurus, with a little help from the characters Satin and Chenille, prepare guests for “Poppy's Best Day Ever! Celebration.” Guests can select from a choice of Poppy, Brand, Guy Diamond, and Rainbow-theme headbands. Stylists are ready to use Trolls-inspired make-up to complete the look and bring visitors directly into the world of trolls.
Once appropriately coiffed, visitors head to “Branch's Musical Mash-Up,” where they become “Mix Masters.” Easy-to-operate audio equipment allows guests to create a small simulated orchestra together with the residents of Troll Village, piecing together a lively party background with music and lights.
From there, the next stop is the Caterbus, to gather party decorations. Helper trolls called Party Pals hand out keepsake badges that tie into the theme of shiny floating gem stone decorations. The bus is the size of an actual school bus, and features more than 150-yards of fur around it.
Leaving the bus, guests come to “Critter Creek,” a virtual body of water filled with gems. Here attendees will “splash” through the creek, climb a tree trunk, and even play a game that invites guests to the celebration, sharing the invitations on an interactive wall.
Next comes a celebration pre-party, where they practice dance moves and DJ spinning skills. Finally, there's a countdown to the celebration, 3D Glitter Goggles are handed out, and the character of Poppy leads attendees through singing and dancing surrounded by the 3D images of Trolls. The characters are brought to life in a party room decorated with flower lights that hold 504 color-changing nodes.
Before departing “Trolls: The Experience,” or even prior to their entry time, guests can shop for Trolls-inspired gifts and enjoy treats from the Cupcakes and Rainbows retail café. And, at Memory Mile, the final element of the experience, they can also create a scrapbook of their adventures, meet Poppy, and take some post-party pictures at an “after-party.”
“Trolls: The Experience” is an immersive amalgamation that combines a tribute to the film with theme-park-like adventures that guests can experience. It works as an extended walk-through attraction and interactive, music-centered adventure.