The NewSLU

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University Madrid Campus

The NewSLU

The NewSLU

Over 25 kilometers from Madrid’s city center, 26-year-old Mario Jabonero cautiously adjusts and readjusts the positioning of a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the characters from the animated film Inside Out, making sure that it won’t fall forward into the long line of children waiting to take pictures with it. As an employee in the recently opened immersive exhibit Mundo Pixar, his days consist of scanning virtual tickets, taking photos for excited families, and seeing visitors’ reactions when they leave the experience.

“My job is a little bit like experimenting with magic,” he says, grinning before grimacing at a child near him who sits on the floor wailing, waving around a stuffed Buzz Lightyear as her mother tries to pick her up. “I’d say that about 90% of people who come love it.”

Mundo Pixar, which attracted over 200,000 visitors in its first three weeks, is only one of many “immersive” or “interactive” exhibits that have recently opened in Madrid. All around the city, buses and billboards advertise the sale of tickets for thematically-diverse experiences like this, ranging from walk-throughs of ancient civilizations to pixelated renditions of the work of dead painters to, of course, photo opportunities with Mike Wazowzki of Monster’s Inc.. Tickets sell for anywhere between 14 and 25 euros.

The immersive trend is taking over Madrid’s cultural and entertainment scene.

The Matadero, a state-owned arts and culture center, has devoted a specific space for these high-tech exhibitions. Their most recent is about Pompeii, and receives over 10,000 visitors every week, a spokesperson said. The city also inaugurated NOMAD, an immersive and interactive museum that applies AI technology to art, last April.

The craze has even permeated the gastronomic world: Sinestesia, an immersive restaurant, just opened in the center of Madrid. The price per-person for a seven-course, rainbow-colored meal ranges from 195 to 270 euros.

Customers interested in immersive experiences are abundant, but not always easily pleased. Occasionally visitors don’t enjoy Mundo Pixar and complain that it was underwhelming or that they had higher expectations of what they would get for their money. Once, a client leaving the exhibit told Jabonero that “nothing in there moved.” He took it as a sign that she had found it boring.

“People let me know when they’re disappointed sometimes, and their issue is almost always that it’s too short or too simple,” he said.

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