When a world-famous wax museum sought multiple display technologies to create an immersive exhibit around the “Ghostbusters” movie reboot, it asked its digital design agency a question:
“Who ya gonna call?”
The Times Square location of Madame Tussauds, the New York City offshoot of the original museum in London, is turning its attention to exhibits that wholly immerse visitors in a new world – and that means incorporating technology.
Earlier this year the museum lifted the curtain on an immersive multimedia museum exhibit for the “Ghostbusters” reboot, an exhibit that drew heavily on visual display technologies, including digital signage displays and projectors, from NEC Display Solutions of America.
“For us, it was all about what we could use to create the most authentic experience that was also cost-effective and fit into the budget,” said Eric Fluet, head of marketing and sales for Merlin Entertainments, the museum’s parent company.
The museum purchased four 32-inch NEC V323-2, seven 42-inch NEC V423, one 46-inch NEC V463 and one NEC NP-P502H projector for the exhibit, in addition to other technologies, for the project.
As museum visitors enter the Ghostbusters Experience, they walk down a stairway that appears to be part of a New York City subway station, including tiled walls and signage for the G and B lines. As they pass a 46-inch NEC display at the bottom of the stairway, a video of Al Roker is triggered, warning New Yorkers that the city is in chaos from apparent hauntings.
As visitors continue past an animated video of a ghost on the subway wall, they come face-to-face with a replica of a subway car. The windows of the subway car are actually three 42-inch NEC displays showing an animation of an unhappy phantom named Sparky, a deranged prisoner executed by electrocution. The animation moves across the three displays, appearing and disappearing as Sparky menaces visitors and giving the effect that he is pacing around the subway car.
Next, visitors arrive in the hallway of a haunted mansion, where several portraits hang on the walls. At first, everything seems normal – until the exhibit-goers realize that the portraits’ eyes are following them as they move down the hall.
The portraits are actually Madame Tussauds employees shot to look like old paintings, shown on four 32-inch and four 42-inch NEC displays.
The hallway ends at a portrait of Gertrude, who appears human until she morphs into her supernatural form and spits “ectoplasm” on passersby – water that comes from a jet above the portrait, triggered by a motion sensor.
Visitors proceed to the Ghostbusters’ headquarters, which features wax figures of the characters working on ghost containment technologies in their lab. Guests can marvel at the holographic ghosts captured in a containment box before they encounter the green blob-like apparition Slimer, created using the “Pepper’s Ghost” technique, in which an image is reflected off plexiglass at an angle.
As they exit, visitors are shown off by one last wraith flying through the fog, projected onto a fog screen using an NEC projector.
“It’s a 360-degree total sensory experience,” Fluet said. He added that visitor feedback has been “fantastic.”
“People who come through are floored with the experience,” he said. “Even locals from New York and New Jersey have come here and said it was worth the trip and they’d do it again.”
According to Fluet, the almost 200-year-old brand is planning similarly tech-heavy exhibits for the future.
“As Madame Tussauds evolves as a brand, we are looking to do more to engage guests … and create an experience that makes it worth their time and dollars,” he said. “The Ghostbusters Experience exhibit takes them to the next level – they’re not just experiencing the figures and interacting with them; now they’re being placed in this whole new world. This is the direction we’re going – to create more immersive experiences for the guests.”
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