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First person
The power of play

As election season dawns in the US, Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek muses on the unique power of the attractions industry to bridge divides


Election season is once again upon us, and this cycle looks to be most divisive yet again. Whether we like it or not, the attractions industry has found itself squarely in the political discourse. As Meow Wolf has grown into an expansive company with exhibitions in both red and blue states, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my love for art, entertainment, storytelling, and themed attractions and how politics fits into it all. Our industry should not avoid the discourse, but at the same time we hold a unique position and responsibility that we should never forget.

This world we live in is filled with various forms of division. These separations express themselves through large-scale, aggregated societal forms but they actually originate within each one of us individually.

Division is found within our personal identities, our distinctions, our definitions. We fabricate hard stances based on our own observations of threat – sometimes that threat is real and sometimes it’s exaggerated by our personal mental narratives. We gravitate towards packs of like-mindedness, whether on social media or in social spaces, that then re-enforce these identifiers and perspectives. A loop of validation strengthens our stances in the world, affirms our place as the righteous, and fuels our view of the enemy.

No room for exploration
A caricature of ourself starts to form, increasingly void of nuance, and our delusional minds form the same caricatures about ‘the other’; a simplified construct of human beings painted with low-resolution textures and monochromatic colours. Fox News reflects it back to us, and so does MSNBC, and so does ESPN, and so do the hyper-targeted ads we see on our feeds, and so does the curated algorithms of our social networks, and so does the sub-cultures of the communities we live in. The grey areas become black and white. The result is us vs. them with punitive dogmas running our mental processes.

Communion becomes impossible. The ecosystem of these defined perspectives leaves no room for exploration or possibility — we become determined by our determinations. Our daily lives are experienced within environments that re-establish our divisions and further define our enemies.

The magic of play
But a magical opportunity exists within the landscape of entertainment: Play. Through storytelling, art, and creative expression, humans have crafted make-believe worlds that are free from identifiers and create space to connect as the versions of ourselves that existed prior to when we committed to all of our opinions: The Child.

Because in the limitless world of the imagination, the dividing perspectives of our day-to-day carry little reference or value. Who I am and what I’ve already determined becomes irrelevant within the vastness of dreams. In this binary existence of red vs blue, right vs left, wrong vs wrong, old vs new, black vs white, there’s an alternative space of possibility where nothing has been labelled yet and we can co-exist in the communion of exploration. It’s within our worlds of co-creation.

If that communion can be felt for even the slightest moment, it has the profound power to short-circuit the mechanisms of judgement and remind us that we are loving and forgiving beings that ultimately seek to have peace with one another.

Our industry has been bringing all types people together for the past century, providing a miraculous opportunity for people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and character to come together to share in wonder and joy with each other, even for small windows of time. That’s the power of art, entertainment, attractions and play; to rise above the predictable divisions of the self and expand our minds towards the shared experience of community.

The child inside
I’m reminded of a time when Meow Wolf first opened House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A family standing in line caught my eye. The mom and the two kids were giddy with excitement, but the father, wearing a Harley Davidson tank top and a hat with the Texas state flag, stood there with his arms crossed looking uncomfortable. I could tell he that he had already determined that Meow Wolf was not for him.

An hour later, I was walking around inside the exhibition and saw this family again. The mom and kids were still in a place of enjoyment, and the father was crawling through the fireplace with a huge smile on his face proclaiming: “There’s a dinosaur skeleton in this room that plays music through its bones!”

The environment allowed the father to drop his identity and instead just explore and play like a kid again.

This world of imagination is for everyone.

Discover Meow Wolf’s The Real Unreal:
The Real Unreal

Meow Wolf’s fourth permanent attraction opened in the Grapevine Mills shopping centre near Dallas-Forth airport, North Texas in July 2023.

Created by 40 Texas-based artists together with more than 150 Meow Wolf artists and fabricators, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey that begins in what appears to be an ordinary front yard in the Midwest. Guests enter and explore the ‘Delauney family home’ where everyday objects hint at a mysterious disappearance.

In signature Meow Wolf style, what follows is a “swift freefall down a narrative rabbit hole. Guests will revel in spectacle after spectacle which materialise into a gleaming triumph of multisensory art.”

Immersive installations include Brrrmuda, an “intersection of refrigerator portals from various dimensions, taking guests on unexpected adventures or to lively parties.” A mystical forest cloaked in magical daylight features musical fungus and a treehouse, while Lamp Shop Alley has shop windows overflowing with trinkets and doors leading to the unknown. Neon Kingdom offers visitors the chance to take part in a ‘multiversal dance party’ with its ‘charming dance floor’ and ‘whimsical cuckoo-clock landscape’.

More than 450 artists worked on the attraction / Photo: Photo: Imani Thomas
The Real Unreal in Texas, US, is Meow Wolf’s latest permanent attraction Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
The attractions industry can bridge divides and allow people to just play Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf launched in New Mexico in 2008 Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Storytelling, art and play have the power to bring people closer together Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf’s installations allow adults to feel like children again Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
The Real Unreal takes visitors on a mystical journey Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
iPlayCO

iPlayCo was established in 1999. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08-08 May 2024

Hospitality Design Conference

Hotel Melià , Milano , Italy
04-07 Nov 2024

Global Wellness Summit (GWS)

In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
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First person
The power of play

As election season dawns in the US, Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek muses on the unique power of the attractions industry to bridge divides


Election season is once again upon us, and this cycle looks to be most divisive yet again. Whether we like it or not, the attractions industry has found itself squarely in the political discourse. As Meow Wolf has grown into an expansive company with exhibitions in both red and blue states, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my love for art, entertainment, storytelling, and themed attractions and how politics fits into it all. Our industry should not avoid the discourse, but at the same time we hold a unique position and responsibility that we should never forget.

This world we live in is filled with various forms of division. These separations express themselves through large-scale, aggregated societal forms but they actually originate within each one of us individually.

Division is found within our personal identities, our distinctions, our definitions. We fabricate hard stances based on our own observations of threat – sometimes that threat is real and sometimes it’s exaggerated by our personal mental narratives. We gravitate towards packs of like-mindedness, whether on social media or in social spaces, that then re-enforce these identifiers and perspectives. A loop of validation strengthens our stances in the world, affirms our place as the righteous, and fuels our view of the enemy.

No room for exploration
A caricature of ourself starts to form, increasingly void of nuance, and our delusional minds form the same caricatures about ‘the other’; a simplified construct of human beings painted with low-resolution textures and monochromatic colours. Fox News reflects it back to us, and so does MSNBC, and so does ESPN, and so do the hyper-targeted ads we see on our feeds, and so does the curated algorithms of our social networks, and so does the sub-cultures of the communities we live in. The grey areas become black and white. The result is us vs. them with punitive dogmas running our mental processes.

Communion becomes impossible. The ecosystem of these defined perspectives leaves no room for exploration or possibility — we become determined by our determinations. Our daily lives are experienced within environments that re-establish our divisions and further define our enemies.

The magic of play
But a magical opportunity exists within the landscape of entertainment: Play. Through storytelling, art, and creative expression, humans have crafted make-believe worlds that are free from identifiers and create space to connect as the versions of ourselves that existed prior to when we committed to all of our opinions: The Child.

Because in the limitless world of the imagination, the dividing perspectives of our day-to-day carry little reference or value. Who I am and what I’ve already determined becomes irrelevant within the vastness of dreams. In this binary existence of red vs blue, right vs left, wrong vs wrong, old vs new, black vs white, there’s an alternative space of possibility where nothing has been labelled yet and we can co-exist in the communion of exploration. It’s within our worlds of co-creation.

If that communion can be felt for even the slightest moment, it has the profound power to short-circuit the mechanisms of judgement and remind us that we are loving and forgiving beings that ultimately seek to have peace with one another.

Our industry has been bringing all types people together for the past century, providing a miraculous opportunity for people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and character to come together to share in wonder and joy with each other, even for small windows of time. That’s the power of art, entertainment, attractions and play; to rise above the predictable divisions of the self and expand our minds towards the shared experience of community.

The child inside
I’m reminded of a time when Meow Wolf first opened House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A family standing in line caught my eye. The mom and the two kids were giddy with excitement, but the father, wearing a Harley Davidson tank top and a hat with the Texas state flag, stood there with his arms crossed looking uncomfortable. I could tell he that he had already determined that Meow Wolf was not for him.

An hour later, I was walking around inside the exhibition and saw this family again. The mom and kids were still in a place of enjoyment, and the father was crawling through the fireplace with a huge smile on his face proclaiming: “There’s a dinosaur skeleton in this room that plays music through its bones!”

The environment allowed the father to drop his identity and instead just explore and play like a kid again.

This world of imagination is for everyone.

Discover Meow Wolf’s The Real Unreal:
The Real Unreal

Meow Wolf’s fourth permanent attraction opened in the Grapevine Mills shopping centre near Dallas-Forth airport, North Texas in July 2023.

Created by 40 Texas-based artists together with more than 150 Meow Wolf artists and fabricators, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey that begins in what appears to be an ordinary front yard in the Midwest. Guests enter and explore the ‘Delauney family home’ where everyday objects hint at a mysterious disappearance.

In signature Meow Wolf style, what follows is a “swift freefall down a narrative rabbit hole. Guests will revel in spectacle after spectacle which materialise into a gleaming triumph of multisensory art.”

Immersive installations include Brrrmuda, an “intersection of refrigerator portals from various dimensions, taking guests on unexpected adventures or to lively parties.” A mystical forest cloaked in magical daylight features musical fungus and a treehouse, while Lamp Shop Alley has shop windows overflowing with trinkets and doors leading to the unknown. Neon Kingdom offers visitors the chance to take part in a ‘multiversal dance party’ with its ‘charming dance floor’ and ‘whimsical cuckoo-clock landscape’.

More than 450 artists worked on the attraction / Photo: Photo: Imani Thomas
The Real Unreal in Texas, US, is Meow Wolf’s latest permanent attraction Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
The attractions industry can bridge divides and allow people to just play Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf launched in New Mexico in 2008 Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Storytelling, art and play have the power to bring people closer together Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf’s installations allow adults to feel like children again Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
The Real Unreal takes visitors on a mystical journey Credit: Photo by Kate Russell courtesy of Meow Wolf
LATEST NEWS
Heartbreak for Swedish theme park, Liseberg, as fire breaks out
A fire has destroyed part of the new water world, Oceana, at Liseberg in Sweden, and a construction worker has been reported missing.
Museum director apologises after comparing the city of Florence to a sex worker
Museum director Cecilie Hollberg has come under fire for comparing the city to a sex worker due to uncontrolled mass tourism.
Populous reveals plans for major e-sports arena in Saudi Arabia
Populous have unveiled their plans for a state-of-the-art e-sports arena, designed to stand as a central landmark in Qiddaya City’s gaming and e-sports district, Saudi Arabia.
Raby Castle reveals ambitious plans to become a major visitor destination
Raby Castle, known as one of the finest medieval fortifications in England, is nearing the end of an ambitious two-year renovation project.
Wake The Tiger launches new 1,000sq m expansion
Wake the Tiger, the Bristol-based immersive art experience, is set to open its 1,000sq m expansion on Friday 2 February.
Merlin teams up with Hasbro and Lego to create Peppa Pig experiences
Merlin Entertainments, the LEGO Group and Hasbro have teamed up to create Peppa Pig experiences.
Tate Modern and Frame collaborate on a mind/body experience
London boutique operator, Frame, has teamed up with the Tate Modern to offer two yin and sound yoga classes, following by a tour of the art gallery.
Elvis Presley Live is rolling out globally
Immersive entertainment specialists, Layered Reality, is creating a tribute to Elvis Presley featuring a concert experience with a life-sized digital Elvis.
Carmel Lewis takes top spot at BRC
Carmel Lewis has been appointed president at global experiential planning and design firm, BRC Imagination Arts, heralding a new era for the company.
Perth Museum to launch at Easter with rare Jacobite objects
Opening over Easter weekend in March 2024 after a £26.5m redevelopment project, Perth Museum will tell the story of Perth – Scotland’s first capital.
'World's largest' indoor ski centre slated to open in 2025
Huafa Snow World, a 131-hectare entertainment destination in Shenzhen, China, designed by architecture firm, 10 Design is slated to open in 2025.
Therme Group confirms Incheon Golden Harbor location for South Korean wellbeing resort
Global wellbeing organisation Therme Group has announced the location of its first Asia Pacific project. The upcoming resort will open in South Korea’s Incheon City as part of its Golden Harbor development.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
iPlayCO

iPlayCo was established in 1999. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08-08 May 2024

Hospitality Design Conference

Hotel Melià , Milano , Italy
04-07 Nov 2024

Global Wellness Summit (GWS)

In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
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