City residents encounter many interesting experiences throughout the day, but they don’t often walk through an immersive underwater aquarium.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is a prime example of how people living in big cities today have interactive entertainment experiences right at their fingertips.
Located in the heart of Times Square, the sprawling, immersive attraction is an intriguing combination of National Geographic’s incredible storytelling and a blend of cutting-edge visual effects and technology, creating a new kind of entertainment.
National Geographic Encounter is a powerful way to bring science to life for adults and kids.
“National Geographic Encounter is a powerful way to bring science to life for adults and kids,” says Alexander Svezia, co-founder of SPE Partners. “It also plays an important role in raising awareness of the vital importance of keeping our oceans healthy.”
While National Geographic Encounter is an entertaining and educational aquatic novelty, an increasing number of interactive experiences are popping up in bustling metropolises around the globe. Thanks to technological advances, developers are building high-tech destinations to satisfy consumers’ insatiable appetite for immersive experiences.
For example, escape games—where groups work together to find their way out of a room using hidden clues—have been all the rage since their debut in Japan a little more than a decade ago. Today, they’re found in cities like Nashville, Austin, Indianapolis and Orlando to name a few.
Immersive activities like these, as well as virtual reality and other multi-sensory experiences, are particularly attractive for millennials. In fact, more than 78 percent of millennials would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something and 55 percent of millennials say they’re spending more on events than ever before, according to a study conducted by Eventbrite.
With mobile entertainment in their back pockets (hello, smartphones), it’s no question that developers and savvy business owners must up the ante to create engaging and visually stimulating venues. And the team behind National Geographic Encounter has done just that.
“We see the wow factor come to life through how guests are responding to the experience,” says Svezia. “We watch guests go through this experience and see and hear gasps, laughter, a sense of awe, and applause. We watch them have fun with each other—whether they are playing with sea lions as a family, or finding their way through the kelp maze with their friends.
He adds, “We knew that if we really wanted to bring guests ‘face-to-face’ like this, that the best way to do this is through animated media that enables us to show these creatures at true-to-life size, and with exact scientific detail.”
However, finding the right space to house these technologically driven attractions can be challenging.
It took the team over four years to find a suitable space with property ceiling heights and overall volume to accommodate the attraction’s technology needs.
“Times Square was always our first and only choice to launch a first-in-kind National Geographic experience,” says Svezia. It took the team over four years to find a suitable space with property ceiling heights and overall volume to accommodate the attraction’s technology needs.
“It was a challenge finding real estate with a footprint capable of handling our immersive layout to accommodate a seamless guest flow of up to 3,000 people a day, as well as allowing our designers to build and install a 40-foot dome,” says Svezia. “We’re thrilled to be in the Crossroads of the World.”
Whether it’s an escape to a marine paradise or an actual escape from closed quarters, the experience economy is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. Svezia believes it will become the norm in the next several years. “The current technology will allow guests and consumers to experience new worlds in a completely realistic and shared manner,” he says.
“Over the next decade, experiential retail such as National Geographic Encounter will be as commonplace as going to popular coffee shops and subsequently traditional retail will incorporate immersive technologies in all forms of their consumer engagements.”
While developers and experiential property owners hope their ventures not only fulfill consumers’ growing immersive entertainment needs, they also want them to serve a greater purpose.
“It’s our mission to deliver breakthrough shared entertainment experiences that inspire people to make a difference, one encounter at a time,” says Svezia.
02 February 2017 by Emma Kantrowitz
31 August 2017 by Daniel Rosen