Successfully replicating the highly coveted experience at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, HBO brought its off-site Westworld exhibition to New York Comic-Con. Delos, the fictional owner of the similarly fictional luxury resort, set up an unassuming, temporary, and by-appointment-only office in an undisclosed location. To gain access to the site, fans were teased with the sign-up’s location via social media, with a new location each day of the convention.
Those lucky enough to win the complimentary visit to the western-themed fantasy world were escorted into the Delos office, where a host checked them in before directing them to the apparently sterile waiting room, sparsely decorated with weapons-of-choice on view, actual props from the series, a sample of of guests’ potential wardrobe, and a small group of hosts programmed to keep guests entertained as they waited for the next portion of their experience to occur.
After a bit of optional small talk with the inquisitive and all-too-agreeable hosts (“What will you wear?” “What will you do first?” “Which weapon best suits you?”), guests were then shuffled off one by one to a private room to become the subject of a personal interview purportedly to determine the ideal customized experience. Filled with impossible questions, the Freudian analyst often responded with equally cryptic feedback (“I see.” “How curious.” “Very interesting.”), while feigning scrolling endlessly on a mobile device. The session culminated in the analyst deciding if the guest is more of a white hat or a black hat.
Spoiler alert: the answer was always black hat. And so the guest in the black hat (which was theirs to keep as a souvenir) was escorted further into the Delos offices to take the next step on their journey.
Next stop: Westworld. Unfortunately, unlike in the actual series, where a train totes its passengers to their destination, guests were taken to the ‘penthouse’ via a rickety elevator which may have ironically made a pleasant substitute for those who closed their eyes for the journey. From there, guests passed through an additional pair of doors and entered a re-creation of the series’ Mariposa Saloon, including the player piano which faithfully chimed out its arrangement of ‘Black Hole Sun.’
Flanked by women of questionable repute, guests were treated to a series of alcoholic drinks courtesy of a robot sharing a striking likeness to mixologist Paul McGee, along with the rest of the saloon staff. The cocktail menu consisted of the Sherry Punch, featuring both Manzanilla and Amontillado sherries; the Blue Blazer, a showstopper anchored by single malt whiskey and bitters; and the Milk Punch, featuring cognac, rum and cold brew coffee.
However, guests had just enough time to polish off their drinks, take a few selfies and perhaps negotiate rates before an alarm rang out, enhanced by strobing red lights. The aforementioned staff went limp and froze in position as Delos security rushed into the bar and forced an evacuation of the guests, offering no explanation of what went wrong, but only a promise that the guests may return in the future. Maybe next year at San Diego and New York, if we are lucky.