One of the most talked about off-site events of San Diego Comic Con was the Game of Thrones: Survive the Realm experience. In summary, the event was a brilliant trip into the Game of Thrones world, featuring multiple unique and interactive exhibits, dozens of costumes from the show, and the Iron Throne itself.
The Lytherus team was fortunate enough to have a media walk through, offering us unprecidented access to the experience. Our main goal was to bring back as much media as possible for our readers and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
During our visit on Sunday, the exhibit’s final day, the line wrapped around an entire block… and we’re told that’s not the longest line they had seen that week. We were led in through the exit, which leads through a gift shop and tattoo parlor, and were sent on our way to explore and enjoy.
To maintain an authentic experience, our crew started at the entrance, working our way through the exhibit, experiencing as it was meant to be experienced. Upon entering, you are immediately greeted by dozens of authentic Game of Thrones costumes worn by many fan favorite main characters. The first set we encountered were stunning dresses worn by Daenerys, and flying over the top of the display was one of her young dragons. It was a breathtaking sight and one that would make any Game of Thrones fan giddy!
Your very own dragon
The first interactive portion of the exhibit was a green screen photo station. The station offered fans the opportunity to sit atop a fake rock in front of a green screen, where a moving dragon would be inserted in post-editing. A photographer would take six rapid photos of each fan, used by the photo editor to create a moving GIF. Fans were encouraged to pose in ways that would show them reacting to the dragon’s presence. Each fan in line came up with creative and at times, hilarious, reactions to the dragon. This writer chose to react in surprise, but many others were more creative, including a couple acting as if one was falling over the edge, a young child reading a book as if there was no dragon behind him, and a man taking multiple selfies with the dragon. Very creative!
Here’s this writer’s animated Game of Thrones dragon GIF:
Traveling up, over, and down the Wall guarding the North
The second interactive portion of the experience was an Oculus Rift powered virtual reality “ride” up the Wall in a rickety elevator – the same type that you see members of the men of the Night’s Watch headed to their shifts using to travel up and down from the Wall. Participants first step inside of a physical elevator, directly out of the show, and an attendant would place an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset over the participants eyes. A pair of headphones were also utilized to help immerse the participant in the virtual reality experience. Once the devices are in place, the elevator door closes and the adventure begins.
Daring riders start by traveling up the Wall from the very bottom. The rickety elevator sways and rocks as the harsh winds of the North attack it, leading to rumbles and violent shakes on the elevator floor – and you sure can feel them! The chains pulling the elevator can be heard creeking and grinding, leaving the rider wondering if the elevator will even make it to the top. Once atop of the Wall, the rider exits the elevator and begins walking toward the opposite side of the Wall. Before reaching the edge, a flying fire arrow zooms by the rider’s head. Before being able to react to the attacks on the the Night’s Watch and the Wall, a fire arrow strikes the rider, who then plummets to their death.
This entire experience feels incredibly realistic, leading you to believe you truly have been struck and are plummeting from atop the wall to your inevtiable death. The experience stops immediately before striking the ground, leaving you raelizing that your temporary Game of Thrones existings just came to an abrupt end at the bottom of the Wall, conquered by a Wildling. The experience was surprisingly realistic – almost nausiatingly so – and definitely unique. It was exciting to be transported to the North, even if just for a little while.
Conquering the Iron Throne and becoming leader of the Seven Kingdoms
The final interactive experience in the exhibit was one of the most exciting: a chance to sit atop the Iron Throne and, if just for a moment, become ruler of the Seven Kingdoms! With the Iron Throne glimmering in front of us it was easy to feel the true power emanating from the seat. Each fan was allowed the opportunity to sit on the Throne and take photos posing as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
Iconic Game of Thrones costumes and props
As mentioned earlier, the entire exhibit was filled with costumes from various characters ranging from Hodor’s iconic outfit to Arya and the Hound’s. Additionally, all of the costumes from Geoffrey’s royal wedding were on display – Goffrey, Tyrian, Cersei, and more. Astute fans were able to spot the three eyed raven perched above Arya, staring down upon the fans as if to send a message. Chilling.
The ultimate Game of Thrones scene – George R. R. Martin conquering his dead characters!
The most exciting moment of the exhibit, however, had nothing to do with the exhibit itself. Our group of fans were incredibly lucky group, having come through at the exact right moment… for before us stood a dozen cosplayers dressed as various Game of Thrones characters. But they didn’t stand for long. Before we knew it, the entire group was “dead” in a pile on the ground. Standing over them, arms raised in triumph, stood a very convincing George R. R. Martin cosplayer. It was a group of dead authors with the notoriously-character-killing author stranding above his deceased – and our beloved – characters. It was awesome.
Rounding the exhibit’s final corner would bring fans into a functioning tattoo parlor – three tattoo chairs and professional tattoo artists offering real Game of Thrones tattoos! Both tattoo artists were hard at work permanently marking Game of Thrones fans with the ultimate signs of dedication. Our team passed on any tattoos, but it was incredibly interesting to watch other hardcore fans sitting through a tattoo session.
Having experienced many exhibits and interactive experiences throughout the entirety of San Diego Comic Con 2014, it is hard to choose the show’s “best”. However, in the end, our staff was unanimous: the Game of Thrones: Survive the Realm Experience was hands-down the year’s best.
If you enjoyed our coverage of the Game of Thrones: Survive the Realm experience, you’re sure to enjoy the rest of our coverage from the convention, including the Assassin’s Creed: Unity Parkour Experience, the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Laser Tag event, the TNT ‘The Last Ship’ Air Force Carrier party, the Hunger Games Capitol Gallery Experience, and more!