Ghostbusters Dimensions Lets You Become an Actual Pretend Ghostbuster for a Day
Since I was a kid, nary a day has gone by that the dream of being an actual, for real Ghostbuster hasn't crossed my mind. Growing up with the franchise, my household was a treasure trove of almost all the Ghostbusters goods you could imagine. Never got that Firehouse playset, but I did have that sweet role-play proton pack, trap and Ecto goggles. I don't quite fit into those anymore though, so it's a little hard for me to pretend without investing the time and effort into building my own proton back and kit as a number of similarly aged Ghostbusters fans have already done. Until now, that was pretty much the only way to indulge the fantasy. Then The Void came along with its new hyper reality experience.
Teaming with Sony and Madame Tussaud's, The Void opened up Ghostbusters Dimensions as part of the new Ghostbusters Experience at the Times Square location of the wax museum franchise. While virtual reality is breaking through in a large way this year, Void ramps things up by completely immersing you in not just a visual experience, but a completely interactive one. Once you suit up with your headset, backpack and blaster, you are in the world of the Ghostbusters, and it's up to you to explore the space on foot and eliminate the spectral menaces inside. All those hours of running around my neighborhood blasting phantoms was finally going to pay off.
When you first arrive, you and up to three others are formed into a party of rookie Ghostbusters called to an apartment complex. The ready room features all the Void gear hung up on hooks, waiting for you to strap yourself in. In addition to a haptic vest, there's a heft backpack and large headset to don as well. The backpack provides all the power and streams the experience into the headset, and while it's a tad bit weighty, it does add to the immersion. What fortunate happenstance that Ghostbusters need backpacks, too. The blaster is a separate piece handed to you synced to your specific loadout. While it looks like a futuristic laser rifle in hand, in the game world, it's a proton wand.
In fact, everything looks different in the game world. What was once a loading area inside the real Madame Tussaud's becomes the hallway to a New York City apartment building. Where once there was four casually dressed tourists huddled together waiting for the adventure became four full-fledged Ghostbusters eager to answer the call. Once everyone was suited up and ready to go, we opened the door to a world we'd only seen on screen and in our imaginations.
Inside the first room was what would pass for an open-concept apartment in a New York realtor's guide, but was more of a cramped studio. Nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary at first, and outside the window we could see Ecto-1 with its flashing lights throwing some red and blue highlights across the room. Inspecting the rest of the space was tough with three others in the room, but there was definitely freedom to roam. The headtracking in the visor was impressive, and certain objects projected to the headset were actually placed in the real space. You could reach out and touch the TV in the corner, even though you had to guess a bit about where it was since your avatar's hands don't move when you move yours (they stay glued to the proton wand). Through our headsets, a woman from GB HQ was informing us what we were there to investigate, and no sooner did she relate some details did the first little entity appear before us. He floated around a little bit before settling down in a recliner.
Time to get our proton stream on.
Unlike real ghostbusting, you don't have to worry about ending the world by crossing the streams in this virtual experience. Nor do you have to worry about firing at human beings in your line of sight. Once we started firing at the ghoul, he darted around the room and about a dozen more spawned in all at once. With all four of us not really concerned with the well being of the room (or each other), the proton streams were flying around with reckless abandon. I'll admit I shot one of my teammates just to see what would happen if I did, and the end result was nothing at all. The apartment didn't fare so well, as scorch marks could be seen on just about every surface. That's coming out of the invoice I suppose. Still, to actually attempt wrangling some ghosts with the fabled equipment the heroes of the film/cartoon/comics use was something else.
The job didn't end there though, as a wall exploded and exposed a hallway to an elevator leading through a seldom seen portion of the building. As we rode up, the lift stopped on a few different floors showing us ghosts of different shapes and sizes, including one rather infamous face, Slimer. Like Peter Venkman, we stood little chance against the blobulous creeper, and with a gush of wind against our faces, he rushed and slimed us all. The elevator resumed course, and brought us face to face with a spectral child that wouldn't be out of place in any modern horror film. She joined us for a bit, then exited into an apartment at the top, where we encountered her final form.
To say more would spoil the experience for you, but there will be some unexpected and welcome cameos from more than just Slimer. The smell of burning marshmallow still lingers on my shirt. And yeah, it's really there and not a mental trick. Void is shaking floors and blowing wind and injecting smells into the area to craft an illusion so immersive, you won't believe you weren't actually there. At the end of the day, we came, we saw, we kicked its ass.
The Ghostbusters Experience at Madame Tussaud's also includes a small sampling of the characters from the new film, as well as a few props and decorations to make it a true attraction. Holtzmann's workshop includes a dynamite rendition of Kate McKinnon and her wonderful hair, as well as a proton pack and some entrapment chambers. You can see one of the spooky ghosts lurking in the viewfinder in the image above. There are also great wax figures of Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) in the display. Leslie Jones' Tolan actually greets you as you arrive at Madame Tussaud's main entrance, as the Ghostbusters Experience is getting a major push from the museum. There are countless jumpsuited employees vying for your attention outside, and while it's probably a slight annoyance to have to walk through everyday if you work in the city, it is a nice thing to see as you approach if you're in from out of town.
That there's such excitement and joy surround this franchise's return is great news, and both Madame Tussaud's and The Void have done tremendous work in bringing their respective efforts to life. There was never a day where I thought I'd actually be able to step into the real shoes of a Ghostbuster, or even get as close as I did to a prop proton pack, but that we live in a time where such things are possible is amazing. I can only imagine where the technology featured by Void goes from here. For now though, virtual busting made us feel good. You can't really ask for much more.
Tickets for the Ghostbusters Experience are available now in a variety of packages. You can learn more on the official site. Our general admission tickets were complementary for the purposes of this visit.