Fans Lose Their Minds Attempting to Visit the Real ‘Westworld’
At this year's New York Comic Con I attempted to visit Westworld, but the journey wound up being more intense than the experience itself.
In an effort to promote themselves, television shows and movies go through great lengths to grab attention and lock in their fan base at events like New York Comic Con. Comedy Central set up an elaborate South Park game show, with contestants getting sprayed with 'member berry vomit for answering incorrectly. Star Wars The Last Jedi treated fans to an intense experience that included meet and greets with stormtroopers and Kylo Ren, who surprised fans by force-choking a resistance fighter and sending him flying high above their heads.
HBO's Westworld, however had them all beat with the most sought-after experience of the weekend. Lucky fans were treated to a trip to the real Westworld, complete with interactive "hosts" deciding if you were worthy of leaving with a black or white hat. Visitors were able to spend time at a secret location that was meticulously transformed into scenes right out of the show, including a saloon with complementary themed cocktails and that creepy player piano.
In order to get to Westworld, however, fans had to be extremely dedicated. On Saturday I decided to see what the experience was like so I headed out to the Javits center at 7am, awaiting the first clue that would be sent out on Twitter as to where the day's secret sign-up location would be. Right on cue, a mysterious video appeared that showed a dot on an unlabeled map and incomplete GPS coordinates.
While waiting for more information I noticed several groups of people scream and start running south down 11th avenue. Guessing they figured out the clue, I chased after them for several blocks until we came across a line of five or six people standing on a street corner. They told me that they thought the clue was taking them there, but a larger group was assembled just one block over.
Heading over to the the other line I came across what must have been at least 200 people eagerly awaiting their chance at a Westworld experience. The leader of the growing line was confident they were all in the right spot because, according to him, it was the same place where HBO signed up fans on Thursday.
As I watched the crowed grow I noticed one person quickly jump out of line and begin to run. One by one, more people fled the line, running back up 11th avenue. It turns out the small line I first stumbled across was actually the correct location. A large, black SUV pulled up at the corner and actors dressed as Delos employees quickly controlled the overflowing line, instructing everyone to stay where they were and await the official sign up.
A white tent and tables with Westworld computers were quickly erected and actors began signing up fans for their shot at a visit to the experience later in the day. I spent time chatting with some of the actors and they told me that while they knew the attraction would be popular, they never expected the insane amount of enthusiastic fans that had been chasing them down throughout the week.
While only a fraction of the fans who woke up early and sprinted through Manhattan were able to participate in the violent delights, the experience surprisingly had no violent ends. The crowd was very peaceful and well behaved, something the hosts told me was a common theme throughout the week.
Fans that made it through and earned their trip to Westworld had an experience they would remember forever. But those who were eventually turned away were still able to feel like they were a part of the excitement, settling instead for a face full of 'member berry vomit and a free T-shirt.