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7 Immersive Experiences in London: Our Top Picks and Thoughts

(c) Battle Royal Studios
(c) Battle Royal Studios

As part of our continued research and development process, we traveled to London to visit 7 of the most talked about immersive experiences in the British capital. All in all, the experiences were inspiring — even if not always 100% immersive. Read on for our insights.

As part of our continued research and development process, we traveled to London to visit 7 of the most talked about immersive experiences in the British capital. All in all, the experiences were inspiring — even if not always 100% immersive. Read on for our insights.

by Karla Menzel
10. January 2023
At Battle Royal Studios, we live and breathe
immersive experiences
. Unlike a traditional play or film, immersive experiences have the added advantage of involving their audience with a combination of performance and creative technology. With so many moving parts, it can be challenging to get the equation just right every time. So, as part of our continued
research and development process
, we traveled to London to visit 7 of the most talked about immersive experiences in the British capital. While some of these experiences might have been lacking in certain areas, they incorporated stunning and surprising uses of VR, stunt performances, animation, and much more. All in all, the experiences were inspiring — even if not always 100% immersive. Read on for our insights.

1. Secret Cinema’s The Guardians of the Galaxy (Free-roaming)

Unfortunately, you missed the chance in experiencing the world of Knowhere as it closed in November 2022. We thought to share our insight nonethless.
Secret Cinema
production transforms one film into a fully interactive, immersive experience. Audience members become cast members and live out mini-subplots connected to the film. Secret Cinema's The Guardians of the Galaxy is a free-roaming immersive experience that applies this formula to the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Attendees are sorted into tribes and given three hours to complete a challenge or roam freely about the space and make their discoveries.

Although the designed sets are reminiscent of the city of Knowhere from the "Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the narrative elements of the event don't come close to matching the quality of the films. If you’re interested in chowing down on burgers or taking in some stunt performances in a film set, then this experience is for you. However, if you're seeking a compelling narrative that fully absorbs you, especially if you're not already a devoted Marvel fan, this performance may not meet your expectations.
Score: 3.5/5

2. Layered Reality’s The Gunpowder Plot

Based on the infamous story of Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the British Parliament,
The Gunpowder Plot
uses a combination of VR and live acting to create a hybrid immersive experience for the audience. Virtual reality (VR) headsets provide a visually immersive experience by transporting attendees back to 1605, but the experience is further enhanced with sensory elements like smell, touch, and sound. Additionally, attendees are guided through a predetermined set of interactions, resulting in a truly surreal lead experience.
A pre-recorded Tom Felton (Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy) plays the lead role of Guy Fawkes, and audience members get the chance to interact with him in the virtual realm. If you’re new to the world of VR, then The Gunpowder Plot will set your expectations high in terms of form and feeling. But the acting and overall narrative feel forced at times, making it hard to truly get lost in the story.
Score: 2/5

3. Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City (Free-roaming)

The fall of the ancient city of Troy is reimagined in this contemporary urban setting. As the threat of defeat looms in the air, Troy comes alive in both celebration and grief. Elaborate and massive industrial sets, enchanting imagery, and Pina-Bausch style performance and choreography make this
free-roaming immersive experience
hard to forget.
Dancers and actors move through the set with startling agility—so agile in fact, that you might miss them if you don’t keep up. You won’t be asked to adorn any VR headsets in this haunting metropolis, but that doesn’t mean you’re a full-on participant. Don’t expect your actions to affect the story, you’re just an observer here.
Score: 4.5/5

4. Netflix' Stranger Things by Fever

If you’ve been dying to walk through the universe of the
Stranger Things
franchise, then this is the immersive experience for you. From Hawkins Lab to the Upside Down, you’ll be guided through multiple familiar settings from the series, like trying to escape the Upside Down or facing off against the Demogorgon, and even get to experience some scenes in an impressive 3D format. This lead experience will guide you through multiple settings from the series and offer a predetermined storyline to follow. At the center of it all is the renowned Starcourt Mall, an open, free-roaming merch and catering area where you can enjoy refreshments, buy some sweet 80’s apparel and engage with role-playing shop assistants from Hawkins. For an avid fan, the Stranger Things experience likely ticks all (or at least most of) the boxes.
The experience officially closed in London but is planned to arrive at another European city soon!
Score: 4/5

5. Immersive London’s The Great Gatsby

Experience F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel in
Immersive London's
interpretation of the roaring 20s. Attendees enter this immersive experience as “guests” at one of the renowned parties of Jay Gatsby and are guided through a preplanned plotline, allowing them to participate in fixed events. But that's not all - the host himself mingles among the company, and a new plotline involving a murder that needs to be solved before the night's end adds an extra layer of excitement to the evening.
If you've always wanted to drink elegant cocktails while feeling like a character from The Great Gatsby, you'll find everything you need at Gatsby's party. Some acrobatic stunts enliven the evening, but beyond that, the drama unfurls like a somewhat slow-burning, low-stakes play taking place in a themed bar.
Score: 3/5

6. ABBA Voyage

If you’ve always wanted to see
in concert, then this phenomenal immersive experience will likely surpass all your expectations. While you won’t see the original band members live, the experience seamlessly blends technology to create “ABBAtars” mixed with a deluge of captivating animations.
Enjoy ABBA’s greatest hits while traveling through a 70’s-inspired space dream. What might seem like a typical concert venue at first proves to be anything but—nearly 360 degrees of multimedia effects make it one of the most inspiring performances we saw.
Score: 5/5

7. Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Partly free-roaming)

Step into Weimar Era Berlin via this revival of the classic musical Cabaret. Only this time, the entire theater is transformed into the
Kit Kat Club
, and the audience is invited to explore Sally Bowles’s stomping ground for a whole hour before the performance starts.
As far as being an immersive experience, however, don’t expect more than the initial chance to roam around the venue. After that, it unfolds pretty much like a typical production.
Score: 3/5
A peformance on stage in the background and an audience in the foreground watching the showA peformance on stage in the background and an audience in the foreground watching the show
(c) Brendan Shelper
As we transition out of the COVID-pandemic, it is evident that the way we consume entertainment and attend events is continuing to change. Virtual experiences have become a popular option, and immersive experiences combining virtual and in-person elements will likely continue to rise in popularity. If you are still unfamiliar with the impact immersive experiences can have on their audience, consider ChatGPT’s explanation of the format, which proves a wealth of online material from where it can draw this accurate response:

Immersive experiences refer to types of entertainment that allow the audience to actively participate in or engage with the content, rather than simply observing it passively. These types of experiences can be very engaging and memorable for audiences, since they offer a level of immersion that is not possible with traditional forms of entertainment. Some examples of immersive experiences in entertainment include virtual reality (VR) experiences, interactive theater productions, escape rooms, and immersive art installations.

One of the key benefits of immersive experiences is that they can provide a sense of presence or "being there" that is not possible with other types of entertainment. For example, in a VR experience, users can feel like they are physically present in a virtual environment, which can be very compelling. Similarly, interactive theater productions allow the audience to play a role in the story and shape the outcome, which can be a very engaging and memorable experience.
At Battle Royal Studios, we have been producing sensory and immersive experiences since 2016, and we are always looking for ways to push the boundaries of what's possible. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how our immersive tools can benefit your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We would be happy to discuss a customized strategy with you.
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How to immerse an audience - Part 1: Game-Changer

Immersive Experiences put audiences in the center of an exciting journey. They do not only watch a story unfold, they actually get to discover and explore it themselves.

Show Direction

How to immerse an audience - Part 2: Rules & Tools

Our learnings result in a set of important tools, which we will address in part 2 of our series. To us, they are the cornerstone of a successful Immersive Experience.

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How to immerse an audience - Part 3: Augmented Possibilities

In this final instalment of our Immersive series, we will focus on the potential of augmented and virtual reality to fully engage audiences with all their senses.

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Digital Transformation

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