Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things

By Matthew Pearson

We finished rewatching all three seasons of Stranger Things, got together our best approximation of the outfit for the 1980s subculture selected for us, suspended our disbelief and headed down to a secret London location for Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things. This is what we found there (with all necessary secrets unspoiled), including...

  • What is Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things all about?
  • Why did they pick Stranger Things for the new Secret Cinema world?
  • Does it work?
  • Do you need to get dressed up?
  • Is the whole thing really secretive or can you talk about the BLANK that happens in the BLANK?
  • And much, much more.

What is Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things?

The Latest Immersive World Created by Secret Cinema

Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things is the latest immersive experience cooked up by the fertile, ambitious minds of the culturally on-the-money Secret Cinema team. They’ve been putting on themed cinematic and televisual experiences since 2007, creating participatory worlds straight out of your favourite shows and movies. They give you a character before you arrive, you dress for the part and turn up to be an audience member with a difference. An audience member who’s part of the piece. An extra who’s allowed to talk as much as they like and drink and go to the toilet whenever they want. You're an extra with extra. An extra extra. The interactive world they’ve created this time zaps you into the Stranger Things universe. You’re invited to the Hawkins High reunion (the fictional school attended by the show’s main characters), held on Independence Day. As returning students, each guest is given a character and assigned a clique in advance. You’re also given your mission for the evening, the sketchy details of a mystery it’s your job to solve over the course of the night. As you, 80s-attired and hopefully with a couple of buddies by your side, seek to put together the pieces of your puzzle, you meet all the characters from the show, some involved with your mystery, some not, some propelling the overarching narrative of the evening towards the night’s show-stopping—and secret—finale. Secret Cinema evenings traditionally end with a screening of the film in question. With three seasons of Stranger Things, this obviously wasn’t possible. The workaround they’ve come up with is inspired. And secret. [caption id="attachment_6068" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

Matthew Pearson for The London Pass[/caption]

Plenty of Sideshows to Explore

There are plenty of concession stands selling USA fair food staples, a few bars and loads of mini-games, group challenges and 80s hits blaring out. So even if you don’t want to get too involved in the storytelling side of the evening, there are plenty narrative-free parts of Hawkins to explore. But everyone’s there together at the end. Character big and small. The entire audience/Hawkins reunion goers. All shepherded into the same place for the moment when things get turned....upside down.

Why Stranger Things?

The Perfect World To Get Wrapped Up In

Set in a Spielbergian vision of 80s small town America, the Netflix series is all about normal folk getting wrapped up in sci-fi mysteries; kids facing down authority with only idealism and friendship on their side, and heaps and heaps of nostalgia. It’s perfect thematic fodder for Secret Cinema, who are all about nostalgia and allowing adults to act like kids again, exploring fictional worlds they feel they know every inch of. As well as the series’ main themes providing a fitting home, the world of Stranger Things offers an ideal setting for an immersive experience like Secret Cinema. It’s stylised and stylish, precise yet cartoonish, rich in real world details and underlying mystery. There’s a wholesome sheen to the 1980s small-town USA depicted that is ready to flip into all out horror at any moment. It’s in that tension that Secret Cinema pitches the evening. The all-smiles idealism and bunting-hung patriotism of the American fair is pretty sinister to begin with. So too is the maxed out consumerism of the 1980s playground mall. All it needs is a little push. The illusion can’t hold. Put simply, Secret Cinema gets two worlds for the price of one from Stranger Things. [caption id="attachment_6148" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

Matthew Pearson for The London Pass[/caption]

A Modern Show That's All About Looking Back, Just Like Secret Cinema

Some might suggest that Stranger Things isn’t established or well-worn enough to deserve/need/benefit from the Secret Cinema experience. They may well be right. Compared with what has come before it, Stranger Things can’t claim to have anywhere near as much longevity. Arguably it doesn’t have the same cultural clout as the worlds Secret Cinema has explored before. But Stranger Things itself is a nostalgic undertaking, it is inspired by the films, games, clothes and music of the 80s, and references its inspirations throughout. It provides nostalgia a step removed by pastiching, recreating that which it loves. Just as Secret Cinema does. And as the company’s first attempt at building a world based on a cultural title that is still an ongoing concern, it works well. Certainly, out of all the TV shows out there right now, Stranger Things seems the best placed to benefit from the Secret Cinema treatment, catering to a class of watcher and audience member who want to get wrapped up in the fictional world they love and dream of exploring it from top to bottom.

How Was Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things?

It Was Pretty BLANK. Especially the BLANK.

We don’t want to give too much away, which has made writing this whole piece a risky business. However... Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things is an OTT production. OTT Productions is possibly a better, truer name for the company than Secret Cinema. They’d clearly prefer to do too much than get accused of falling short. From the moment you get your character and realise you’re going to have to go out and buy a Hawaiian shirt and dress as close to 80s pomp George Michael as you dare, it’s big and involving and wants to wrap you up in its world, to make you a part of the set for your own enjoyment and everyone else’s. If you want to turn up speaking hammy lines of dialogue in a wavering attempt at an American accept, you will be encouraged. It looks the absolute business, there’s no doubt about it. Fans of the show will appreciate detail after detail that has been lovingly recreated, brought to life, there to be explored. People who’ve never seen the show will be impressed by the look and feel of the 80s America setting. And the BLANK. The BLANK that you’re BLANK BLANK looks absolutely BLANK. BLANK!

Smart Storytelling and a Chance to See the Stars Up Close

The storytelling is smart and filled with easter eggs, referencing the series itself while also moving into uncharted territory. The idea of separating the audience into different groups, with each group getting a different mystery to explore is clever. Some people seemed genuinely confused by the whole thing though. With so many stories taking place across the same scene, they seemed to get caught midway between the task assigned to them and wanting simply to explore. They eventually found themselves following three narratives at the same time and promptly gave up. But it’s not hard to follow if you take your time and keep general exploration and story-solving separate from one another. The seemingly spontaneous scenes that break out between cast and audience members are fun. It’s pretty thrilling having Will tell you he’s found a clue, follow me, then deliberately lose you in a sea of Hawkins residents. But when it gets busier and the crowd around each character is 5-10 people don’t feel like you’re in Hawkins anymore. You feel like you’re in London. Get there early and go character-spotting as soon as you arrive. Maybe that’s the best advice. It’s not about the cocktails, of course. But they taste like they’ve been mixed by the kids from the show. It’s not about the cocktails, of course. But 10 quid is a lot of money to spend on some fruity tasting fizz made from all the sodas in Dustin’s fridge. The finale is the best thing about the evening, as finales should be. As soon as the BLANK goes BLANK and the BLANK does a BLANK and you think it’s BLANK, but it’s actually’s pretty damn BLANK. [caption id="attachment_6149" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

Matthew Pearson for The London Pass[/caption]

What Shows Have Secret Cinema Put on Before? What's next?

Previous to Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things, London audiences have been able to explore the sci-fi worlds of Blade Runner, Alien and Star Wars, and the post-apocalyptic zombie hellscape of 28 Days Later. There’ve been some cheery, dancey, singy spectacles too, including Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and the Di Caprio-starring Romeo + Juliet. Next up, in Summer 2020, is Dirty Dancing. Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things runs until March 1st 2020. It’s held at a secret London location. Tickets start around the £40 mark, but it’s very dynamically priced throughout the week and according to availability. There are Saturday matinee performances which are open to those 15 and up, but otherwise it’s an 18+ event. For more details and to book, head HERE. For tickets to the next Secret Cinema event, Secret Cinema Presents Dirty Dancing, head HERE. It'd arguably have been a good idea to stay dry at Secret Cinema Presents Stranger Things. Would have saved a wedge or two. If you're looking to keep it dry, or at least damp, this January, have a read of this. For more info on what The London Pass can do for you, click below...

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Emirates Stadium Tour: FAQs

What to expect from an Emirates Stadium Tour including... A selection of highlights from the tour A whizz through the different tour options A guide to the Arsenal Museum And more, more, more What is the Emirates Stadium Tour? It’s your chance to go behind-the-scenes at one of the London’s most storied football clubs, Arsenal FC. Their ultra modern stadium has already seen its fair share of historical moments, and a tour is the perfect way to get a taste of their recent successes, see all the work that goes on in the background and see portions of the stadium inaccessible to match day fans. It’s the kind of access that football fans dream of. What will I see on the Emirates Stadium Tour? You’ll see the Directors Entrance, Directors Box and Diamond Club, basically the most VIP areas for those watching the game. The view from the box and exclusive Diamond Club is—as one would expect—pretty exceptional. Perhaps the best bits, the one’s you’ll have imagined exploring for years, are the Players Entrance, the Home and Away Dressing Rooms, Head Coach’s Office, Players Tunnel, Pitchside and Home Dugout. These give an insight into the match day experience seen through eyes of the players, both the Arsenal team and those who come to take them on on their home turf. Take me through the highlights. Stepping through the Players Entrance, you’ll feel that buzz of arriving for game day. Perhaps consider bringing a designer toiletry bag and too-big headphones for the occasion. The Home and Away Dressing Rooms offer up a particularly special experience, allowing you to step into the shiny boots of these young professionals and picture the scenes as they prepare themselves for the game. Then it’s out into the Players Tunnel for a little nervous twitching and last minute preparations whilst stood next to a small and happy child. And now you’re out there, Pitchside, imagining just what a motivational/confrontational experience it must be to have 60,000 fans there, singing, shouting, screaming, booing, whistling, cheering. The noise they’ll be making is largely down to what happens in the Home Dugout, so that’s where you’ll head next. Make the wrong decision and you could be out of the stadium before you’ve had the chance to say “Unai Em—.” Now it’s time for the fallout from the game, your meeting with the press pack. So head to the Interview Rooms, Press Conference Room and Media Lounge to pick the bones of your performance. Will you be for the chop, or will you be given a grace period as an inexperienced manager who has the club in their blood and needs more time to turn this underperforming squad around? Or, as is more likely, will you be finishing your tour at the Arsenal Museum, which is where the Emirates Stadium Tour ends? The Arsenal Museum? Yes, this is a separate part of your tour day experience. A visit to the Arsenal Museum is included with your tour, but it can also be visited separately. If you’re going with The London Pass, you can go to either or both. The museum features a wealth of items donated by former Arsenal players. Highlights include the goalkeeper gloves worn by Jens Lehmann during every single match of the Invincibles season of 2003/4, when Arsenal went unbeaten in the Premier League. You’ll also see Charlie George’s FA Cup Final shirt from 1971 and the 2015 FA Cup Final shirt signed by the winning squad. The museum covers Arsenal’s history from their formation in 1886, through their days playing in Woolwich, at Highbury and now at the Emirates. To take you on the journey, the museum boasts two impressive video theatres and twenty separate displays on Arsenal’s past, present and future. Is the Emirates Stadium Tour guided? How does it work? The Emirates Stadium Tour, the main tour offered by Arsenal FC, is self-guided. You get an audio guide to take with you on your adventure around the ground. The English version of the audio guide is voiced by Lee Dixon, Charlie George and Nigel Mitchell, so you get to hear about their match day experiences and history playing for and supporting the club. The tour is available in a total of 10 languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and, via video, British Sign Language. The self-guided nature of the tour allows you to take your time in experiencing the behind-the-scenes area and—perhaps most importantly—make sure you come away with all the photos you need. Because it’s self-guided, you don’t have a set time for when the tour begins, so bookings for the Emirates Stadium Tour are valid for three months. You can take the tour on any non-match day when the stadium isn’t hosting or preparing for other events. Those with a London Pass don’t need to book. Just turn up on a non-match day, show your pass, and you’re off. Are there any extra with the Emirates Stadium Tour? Yes, there are. You’ll get a free pair of Arsenal branded headphones and a personalised tour certificate to take away with you. Also, as previously mentioned, all those who go on the Emirates Stadium Tour gain access to the Arsenal Museum. Are there any other tour types available? Yes. Firstly, there’s the Legend Tour option, where a former Arsenal player guides you around the stadium. They’ll share revealing, funny and poignant memories from their playing days, take questions and pose for photos with you. The tours last 90 minutes, and all guests come away with a signed photo of the day’s legend. You'll also get a certificate and an Arsenal lanyard. All visitors get the chance to tour the sections of the stadium covered in the tour again at their own leisure afterwards and entry to the Arsenal Museum. To find out more about this tour option and upcoming dates, click HERE. Next up, you’ve got the Matchday Tour option. These take place—as you’ll have guessed—on match days. They are guided, last around 90 minutes, and will often feature interesting and unexpected events as the stadium gears up for kick offs. Think player fitness tests and ex-player pitch side interviews! Check out the programme for the Matchday Tour option HERE. Finally, there’s the VIP Legend Experience. These exclusive events are hosted by legendary former Arsenal players, including David Seaman, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown and Lee Dixon, alongside Arsenal pitch side commentator Nigel Mitchell. These are four hour tour and hospitality experiences, which include a hot buffet lunch with unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks in the exclusive Diamond Club. You’ll get some one-on-one time with your VIP legend, a signing session and photo opportunities; signed Arsenal merchandise; and entry to the Arsenal Museum, a tour certificate, a Stadium Tour guidebook and the chance to re-walk the public areas of the tour at your leisure. Find out more about this exclusive Arsenal experience HERE. How much does the Emirates Stadium Tour cost? The tour costs £25 for adults, £20 for concessions (65+, students, those with disabilities), and £16 for children (those aged between five and 15 years old). Mini Gunners (under 5s) get in free. The Emirates Stadium Tour is included with The London Pass. Can you go to the Arsenal Museum without going on the Emirates Stadium Tour? Yes, you can. Entry to the museum is £10 for adults, £7 for under 16s, £8 for the over 65s and £8 for students. You can buy tickets on the day. However, remember that entry to the Arsenal Museum is included with The London Pass. So, if you’re a pass holder, just show your London Pass at the museum for entry. The Arsenal Museum is open Monday to Saturday 10.00 until 18.30, and Sunday from 10.30 until 16.30. On match days, the museum is open from 10.00 until one hour before kick-off. How do I get to the Emirates Stadium Tour? Visitors should head to the Armoury Store, located within the Emirates Stadium. This will be clearly signposted when you arrive on the stadium complex. To get to the Emirates Stadium, the best option is certainly to use public transport. Arsenal tube station, served by the Piccadilly line, is three minutes walk away. Holloway Road tube is five minutes away and is also served by the Piccadilly line. Bus routes stopping close to the stadium include the 4, 19, 29, 43, 91, 106, 153, 236, 253, 254, 259, 263, 271 and 393. Basically, it’s very well-served by London buses. What are the opening dates and times of the Emirates Stadium Tour? The Emirates Stadium Tour runs Monday to Friday, from 10.00 until 17.00. On Saturdays, it runs from 9.30 until 18.00 and Sundays from 10.00 until 16.00. Last entry for the self-guided tour is an hour before closing time on each of these days. On match days, it’s different. You need to select a particular time for your tour. They are generally organised to finish well in advance of kick off. These match day tours are not included with The London Pass. Note that at other times in the year, the Emirates Stadium Tour may not run due to special events. Give them a call on 0207 619 5003 to check that the tour will be running on your chosen date. What if I want to see a match at the Emirates Stadium? Is that possible with The London Pass? With The London Pass, you can book exclusive tickets to Arsenal home games. Thrown in, you'll get complimentary half time drinks, a merchandise voucher and more. For more details, click HERE. What if I want to see a match at another London football stadium? The London Pass gives you access to The London Concierge service. Using this, you can book exclusive tickets for home games of football teams across London. These include Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Crystal Palace. For more details, head HERE.
Matthew Pearson

What Do You Love About London? #LondonIsOpen

Get inspired and find out what other travellers love about London... With tens of millions of visitors coming through London every year, it's no surprise that the English capital is one of the most popular cities in the world. Popular with tourists and local Brits, this buzzing metropolis truly has something for everyone from arts and culture to history, architecture, entertainment and more. But don't just take our word for it! We caught up with some of our international friends to find out what it is about London that stole a bit of their heart and kept them coming back for more. Image sourced via The Natual History Museum “No matter how many times you visit London or how long you have lived in the city there is always something new to discover. My favourite place has to be Upper Street in Islington. There is always a new place opening, whether it is an alternative restaurant or funky bar, every time I walk down the street there is something enticing me in... mouthwatering sushi, refreshing cocktails and inspiring gifts. The park in the centre is a perfect spot to enjoy a lunchtime sandwich in summer and the grand townhouses on the sides streets offer a steady stream of perfect pictures for my Instagram feed. Like much of London it is always buzzing with a huge range of people and I could sit in a cafe and people watch from here all day.” Jen Lowthrop She Gets Around, @jlowthrop "London is such a fantastic place as there is always something new popping-up, whether it’s the hottest burger bar in town or an exciting new art exhibition. However, one of my favourite places to visit is of old, the National History Museum. It is filled with so much history and just recently has added the largest Topaz in the world onto their display. I could spend hours admiring the exhibits and the main Hintze Hall which is so grand and definitely one everyone needs to see." Paula Holmes The LDN Diaries, @theldndiaries "I love London for its diversity in cultures, foods, landscapes, neighbourhoods, languages, architecture and opportunities. My favourite way to spend my time? Walking, exploring, getting lost in old winding streets, taking photos, visiting markets, eating my way around the world without even leaving zone 3 and following advice of friends and bloggers to discover little gems that only locals know and love. It amazes me that I have lived here for nearly a decade and there is still so much I haven’t seen. It is a city that is forever changing and one that continues to captivate me time and again." Stephanie Sadler Little London Observationis, @llostephskimo “I love the fact that London has so many different sides, from the hustle, bustle and bright in the west end to being serious and business like in the east. I love that history and the modern world are so close together. With places like St Paul's cathedral and Buckingham Palace, which nestle within the heart of the modern city. With lesser-known gems scattered randomly around, there's so much to discover. Even most locals haven't seen most of the interesting things. I also love that the city has so many green spaces. It has great parks in the middle of the sprawling metropolis.” Joseph Thornton Joseph Thornton, @Handyblokes_soc "The thing that makes London special to me is its many open spaces. As well as great cultural attractions such as the British Museum and the Tate Modern gallery, and internationally celebrated festivals such as the BFI London Film Festival and Field Day music festival, there are countless miles of river paths and royal parks to explore. One of my favourite things to do in London is to stroll along the beautiful River Thames towards Hampton Court Palace, starting at the ancient market square in Kingston-upon-Thames, taking in the wild expanse of Home Park before relaxing in the palace gardens." Adam Paul Adam Paul, @adampaul80 "To me, nothing is more London than the Tube; some of my best memories are from those mechanical snakes winding their way around underground. I remember being so excited about the London Underground when I first moved to London at 18. I was moving to study and as soon as my parents returned home, I immediately jumped on the Circle Line and just rode it around (back when it used to be a complete circle). I’ve made new friends whilst riding the first train home in the morning, run into old friends on the morning commute. I’ve seen all aspects of human emotion on the tube: people having fun, people crying, people arguing and fighting, people caring for each other when they don’t feel safe. The London Underground truly is the melting pot of human interaction and after many years each journey still feels like that first. Saqib Rana @harisrana101 "Victoria Park is my favourite place to hang around in London. Located in East London, it's my multipurpose area. There are playgrounds, lakes, bridges, gardens, a pagoda and lots of green spaces. It’s a great place to exercise, run or cycle if you are an outdoor type of person like I am. It's not touristy which makes it a perfect place to relax and find a quiet corner. I prefer the cafe by the lake when I have to work or when I just want to enjoy the view. It’s nice for a cup of coffee or breakfast. The park has been the first place I've taken all my friends and family to when they've come to visit me in London." Monika Bagic @MonikaBagic "London is, quite simply, full of energy and life. It is hard not to get swept up in the buzzing social scene, with the huge range of restaurants, bars and traditional pubs on offer. You have to wonder sometimes, when do Londoners sleep? The architecture is among some of the best in the world, whether you prefer the older styles of Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, or the more modern offerings of the Gherkin and the Shard. Take a walk along one of the many attractive bridges over the river Thames and you will see just how beautiful the city is, especially at night as the lights on Tower Bridge twinkle with absolute brilliance. Living in such a sociable, culturally diverse place makes it very easy to meet new people and make plenty of friends. Whatever hobby you’re into, you can be sure to find a place to do it." Sarah Rodger "I have visited London four times with friends and with family. Of the four times, I have always returned to my home country with a strange feeling, the feeling of falling in love with a city. In London, everything is perfect. There are hundreds of interesting attractions for new and returning tourists. The place is full of history and culture. It has more than 200 museums. Apart from the museums, the whole city features stunning works of architecture. Some of them are ancient castles, others are modern superstructures. If you want to relax for a while or have a picnic, you can enjoy beautiful parks with sensational views of the cityscape. At night, London shines. You can visit pubs and delight your tastebuds with some craft beer, or just the city lights. Then wake up early to drink some hot tea and keep exploring. What a magical city!" Mark Prochovs Let us know what you love about London in the comments below!
Vanessa Teo

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