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‘Stranger Things: The Experience’ — Should You Take the Kids?

The Upside Down comes to Seattle

Author Kari Hanson

Published on: May 30, 2023

Stranger Things Seattle
The author’s 14-year-old is unfazed by Vecna. Credit: Kari Hanson

Get ready to head into the Upside Down and tap into your superpowers. “Stranger Things: The Experience” has landed in Seattle, opening May 26.

This interactive experience is based on the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things” and it offers a combination of live-action theater, rather convincing recordings and 3D video. Visitors will be invited to take part in a sleep study, have their skills tested in the Rainbow Room and work together to help their pals in Hawkins save the day.

"Strange Things Seattle"
The watchful eye of the sleep study doctors as we wait to enter the lab. Credit: Kari Hanson

Take the kids?

So, if this “experience” is based on a creepy sci-fi horror show, should you take your kids?

That depends. If your kids have watched and enjoyed — and were not terrified by — the “Stranger Things” series, then they will probably be able to handle this experience. Otherwise, definitely do not take them. For anyone who does consider going, note that it is a splurge.

Among potentially frightening elements, there are flashing lights and monsters just beyond frosted glass doors. The monsters are pacing and trying to get to where visitors are standing. One monster appears to attack someone outside the room, which we could partially see through the frosted glass. There’s a general sense that things in the lab are going wrong.

The final scene is in 3D, and without giving too much away, be prepared for a few fun jump scares. Also good to know — there is some swearing, similar to what you hear in the show. At one point, visitors are encouraged to give the bad guy a rude finger gesture, which our entire group did enthusiastically. It’s nothing new to a kid who has watched “Stranger Things,” but it might not feel appropriate for a younger crowd.

""Stranger Things Seattle"
Get a slice at the Surfer Boy Pizza van in the Mix-Tape room. Credit: Kari Hanson

I took my two teens, ages 13 and 14, who watched the entire series and loved it. They both had a great time and, while we all jumped a few times, they both reported that it was exciting, but not scary. Of course, everyone will experience this differently, and you know your kids best and what they can handle, but fans of the show who are tweens and older will have a good time.

"Stranger Things Experience Seattle"
See if you can tell what the lights are saying in the recreation of Will Byers’ living room. Credit: Kari Hanson

After we successfully completed the adventure, we entered the Mix-Tape space, which is a big open area offering food, drinks and souvenirs. There are recreations of the Byers’ living room and other iconic sets from the show, including the storefront of Surfer Boy Pizza and Scoops Ahoy. There is plenty of 1980s nostalgia to be had, too, including several classic arcade games. My kids had a great time in this space!

"Stranger Things Seattle"
Enjoy some ice cream at Scoops Ahoy. Credit: Kari Hanson

The “Stranger Things: The Experience” is a fun addition to the world of Hawkins and the Upside Down. Fans of the show will enjoy it.

If you go ...

Find it: “Stranger Things: The Experience” is housed in a warehouse at 1750 Occidental Ave. in Seattle, just south of the stadiums. (The venue is where “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” was held.)

Hours: The experience is open Wednesday–Friday, 4–9 p.m., and Saturday–Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. It’s open now and runs through early August 2023, though may be extended.

Tickets: Adult admission is $45–$59, depending on your chosen date and time. Youth admission for ages 5–17 is $34–$44. Buy tickets online.

Snacks: Pricey snacks are available in the Mix-Tape area.

Parking: There are paid parking lots around the building, but be sure to check what else is happening nearby. The night we went there was a baseball game and all of the lots were full. Consider public transportation or take an Uber or Lyft. Check stadium schedules and avoid event days.

Good to know: The immersive experience lasts 45 minutes, then you are allowed to hang out in the Mix-Tape space as long as you’d like. We spent a little over an hour there total, but you could easily stay longer. Children younger than age 14 must be accompanied by an adult, and kids younger than 5 are not allowed.

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