What do you get when you blend a haunted house, a theme park attraction, a Hollywood movie set, a reality TV show and a traveling museum exhibit? You can find out in a somewhat unlikely place--Boston. 5W!TS, a company founded by Attleboro, Massachusetts, native Matthew DuPlessie, opened its first interactive adventure, "Tomb," in the Fenway area of Boston in October of 2004, and those who dare to enter the pharaoh's lair will have quite a story to tell--if they get out alive!
It's Not Real
About.com Theme Parks Guide Arthur Levine invited me to join him on a behind-the-scenes tour of the attraction shortly after it opened, and I must admit that I was feeling a bit, well... chicken. Early reviews of Tomb were filled with talk of death and snakes--two of my least favorite things. But I mustered some courage and agreed to assume the role of screaming sidekick to the fearless Theme Parks Guy.
I was a bit shaken when our flashlights mysteriously went dark after we entered the realistic Egyptian pyramid, but overall, Tomb proved not to be nearly as scary as I feared, which was good news for my vocal chords and Arthur's ears. Though not recommended for children under seven or for anyone who is easily spooked, there is nothing gory or horrifying.
A New Kind of Urban Entertainment
There is a high level of authenticity to the set, which is unique in that it has been designed as a traveling installation. To create Tomb's interior, "We digitized images from actual Egyptian tombs," DuPlessie said. Unlike a theme park attraction, where guests are often strapped into cars, Tomb is a walk-through adventure, during which you are not only encouraged to touch, you must interact physically with the environment… or perish!
Degrees of Difficulty
DuPlessie told us, "What's neat about this show is that it is both fully automated and interactive. We've attempted to make you feel like you're Indiana Jones. It's not something you're watching; it's something you're doing," he said. An original soundtrack further enhances the experience. It's "full, hands-on, sensory immersion," said DuPlessie, a graduate of MIT and Harvard with a background in mechanical engineering and business, who decided to pursue his first job in the theme park industry in 1998 "after having too many cubicle jobs in conventional engineering."
Death Isn't So Bad
Yes, the good news is... dead people can still shop.
If you're going...
Tomb is located at 186 Brookline Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. You'll find complete details on getting there, admission fees and more on Arthur's Theme Parks site, along with additional pictures of Tomb. Call 617-375-WITS (9487) for reservations (recommended) and additional information.
The attraction is especially appropriate for older kids and teenagers visiting Boston.
DuPlessie said that there is a good chance that, after a 12- to 18-month run, Tomb's next home will be in Providence, Rhode Island. 5W!TS is developing new installations that may replace Tomb in Boston, including a James Bond-like safe cracker attraction and an underwater diving adventure.
2010 Update: 5W!TS has plans to open two new interactive attractions, Espionage and 20,000 Leagues, at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has a sneak preview. DuPlessie told the Globe that Tomb may close in the fall of 2010 and be relocated to a larger space.