Unfortunately, the complimentary tickets to attend were only available to Sky TV customers – with the option to bring a friend too – and (for the London event) were sold out in a matter of days due to its popularity. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be gifted a ticket; along with Renegade Revolution’s games Editor Scott (many thanks to our good friend Rel!).
The London location for Game of Thrones: The Exhibition was at Sky Backstage, within The O2. Upon signing up for tickets, event goers were given specific time slots for entry into the exhibition and were advised to turn up no later than fifteen minutes before their scheduled time slot. Upon arriving, staff were on-hand to check tickets and line guests up outside the Sky Backstage area where a member of staff would let guests into the event in groups of eight to ten people at a time. This, of course, helped to keep the congestion within the actual event to a minimum – and with good reason: Aside from the chance to view costumes and props up close and personal, guests were also given the choice to partake at four interactive stations scattered within the event itself; and even with the limitation on the number of people allowed to enter at a given time, there were still queues for the aforementioned attractions.
Even though the exhibition space itself was not very big, there were still quite a few things to see and do. Costumes and props (including various weapons, dragon eggs and jewellery) worn by the actors and actresses were arranged on displays with fitting backdrops. Placards described the items on display, as well a brief significance that they may have played within the ongoing series. So if you intend to go and have not quite caught up with the current four seasons of Game of Thrones and would not like to be spoiled, it would be advised that you either catch up before attending or try not to read the descriptions next to the clothing and props. Whilst not all of the outfits and props are featured at the exhibition (we guessed this was due to the space and time constraints), expect to see key items from the main characters within the first four seasons of the popular show.
Having attended the London tour of Game of Thrones: The Exhibition, both Scott and I recommend that visitors planning to attend make the effort to sign up to a House once they have received their tickets. This requires making an account on the official site – http://www.gotexhibit.com/ – and registering there. Once a House is joined, a code will be given to you, which you will need in order to partake in two of the four available interactive attractions. You will also receive messages from your House via the Companion on the website once you have signed in. Both Scott and I went with House Stark. At the London event, friendly staff members would remind people to have their House codes ready whilst in the queue to enter the exhibition. The same staff would also show attendees how to sign up to a House from their smartphones if they had forgotten to do so prior to showing up at the venue. On a side note, please do not become like the couple behind us in the queue that were giving the staff aggro because they had not signed up to a House before attending – they are just trying to make sure you maximise your experience and are happy to assist you in signing up to a House. Not only is it unpleasant for the staff, it also makes you look like a tool.
As mentioned a couple of times earlier in this article, Game of Thrones: The Exhibition featured four interactive stations for visitors to partake in. Obviously, this was not a mandatory thing – so people that only wanted to view the props and costumes could just skip the queues for the attractions. Each station was spaced apart from each other, which gave the visitors opportunity to have a balanced blend of viewing displays and taking part in activities.
The first of the four attractions in which we visited was the ability to be burned alive by a dragon – presumably one of Daenerys’. This was one of the stations in which visitors needed to provide their House code in order for the finished video to be uploaded to their companion on the website. The video could then be shared – at the owner’s discretion – via Facebook, Twitter or a generated hyperlink. This activity provided a chance for visitors to show off their acting prowess with green screen technology. This also provided entertainment for those in the queue, awaiting their chance to take part. Both Scott and I also wondered how the equally-as-entertaining, enthusiastic staff member that was giving the directions to each person being filmed had not lost his voice after a couple of hours. We were also highly impressed at the speed in which the videos were edited and uploaded onto the website companions.
If you would like to see our little video from the attraction with the dragon, here is the link: https://www.gotexhibit.com/share/8cac1e8f23a5480e9ee06f9452d74b16/
Our next interactive stop involved being turned into a White Walker. The queue for this activity was shorter and moved quicker due to the fact that three people could take part at the same time. Visitors were given specific instructions to make and hold three poses in front of set cameras. The results were again rapidly uploaded onto the website companions for visitors to share at their will.
Here is the link to my photo of being turned by a White Walker: https://www.gotexhibit.com/share/d3d63cc7e7ce4d6e98ed5ae7ee8e4c5a/
The third stop for us was by far the one with the longest queue. Attendees interested in taking part were warned via signs indicating how long the queue would take to reach the attraction from their standing point. When we joined the back of the queue, the sign warned us that the wait was approximately an hour and a half.
And what was all the fuss about?
Ever wondered what it would be like to ride the lift at Castle Black and check out the view from The Wall? Game of Thrones: The Exhibition did just that with help from the Oculus Rift – a four-dimensional virtual reality experience. Visitors were pre-warned via disclaimers and signs in the queue that if they suffered from any health problems (heart problems, vertigo, pregnancy, etc) that perhaps the Ascend The Wall attraction was not for them. To keep visitors entertained during the long wait for the Oculus Rift experience, videos were played featuring interviews with cast and crew members, as well as displaying how and where certain parts of the series was filmed. Every now and then, terrified screams from guests already in the midst of partaking in the Ascend The Wall experience would catch the attention of those still in the queue, which, of course, unnerved some people because they were not sure what exactly was going on to scare some people so badly. Personally, both Scott and I did not think the experience was not nearly as scary as some other visitors were demonstrating. The concept of being locked into a replica of the lift that ascends The Wall with the Oculus Rift headset and headphones on was pretty cool. And the vibrating floor and overhead fans added to the experience of movement and wind. Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed with the pixel-y graphics (blame our gamer sides!) and the experience itself was rather short (even though the queue was over and hour and a half long). Had we known all of these things beforehand, we probably would have skipped this particular attraction. But hey, at least now we can say we have been on top of The Wall!
Last but not least was the final interactive attraction at the event: Right at the end of the exhibition, next to the exit, was a replica of the Iron Throne itself. Visitors were given the choice of either making a beeline for the exit or queueing (a significantly smaller amount of time than for the Oculus Rift) to have their photo taken upon the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, photos were taken on whatever camera visitors had available – be it a conventional camera or a mobile phone camera – so if you had neither with you, it would have been a bit of a tricky situation. There were also no members of staff available in order to take photos for quests. Scott and I asked one of the gentlemen in the queue behind us if he would be so kind as to take a photo of us on my camera phone, to which he kindly obliged.
Overall, Game of Thrones: The Exhibition provided an intriguing close-up glimpse into the fictional world of Westeros. The costumes and props were spaced out adequately and the queueing system was set up in a way that minimised congestion. The four interactive attractions were also mixed amongst the floor space in such a fashion that they did not cause a human gridlock – visitors were given ample time and space to look around and take in everything that the exhibition had to offer. Our only criticism would be that the exhibition did not stop for long enough in London; and that only Sky customers – or friends of Sky customers were able to procure a ticket to visit the attraction. With Season Five of Game of Thrones commencing on Sky Atlantic next month, both Scott and I hope that Game of Thrones: The Exhibition will return to the United Kingdom in the future and hopefully give people that missed out on this particular tour a chance to experience pieces from the hit show up close and personal.
Game of Thrones Season Five premiers Monday 13th April 2015 on Sky Atlantic.
For more information on Game of Thrones: The Exhibition, please visit the official website: http://www.gotexhibit.com/
Photos © Jojo Yap and Scott Sanderson.