We sent our summer intern on a different kind of coffee run
—to the hottest kids’ ticket in New York
In case you haven’t heard, Trolls are a thing. The collectible dolls were transformed into the 2016 blockbuster animated film “Trolls,” and in 2018 DreamWorks brought the film to life with “Trolls The Experience” in New York City, a multi- sensory immersion into the world of the animated characters, produced by Feld Entertainment. With the news of the sequel “Trolls World Tour” scheduled for release in 2020, I thought I’d earn some street cred with the kids I babysit for and check out what the “Trolls” hype is all about.
Located off Broadway, the experience offers two levels of ticketing ($24 for general admission, and $74 for a VIP upgrade). Groups of about a dozen attendees navigate the Trolls Village at a time, a journey that takes 50 to 60 minutes and involves six different activations. Not a bad deal for families on a special trip. Here’s what went down, and what I uncovered.
MAKING AN ENTRANCE
The experience began with a warm welcome from a Trolls The Experience tour guide. Without breaking character, he told us what was happening in Trolls Village that day, and how Princess Poppy the Troll needed our help to have “the best day ever.” The tour guide gave us the low-down on the adventure, and the different tasks we would complete throughout the experience, including searching for mementos and following the Rainbow Path, all adding up to Princess Poppy’s big party.
GETTING TROLLED UP
Next, we took the escalator up to “Hair We Go.” Attendees took a few minutes to get “trollified,” which, of course, involved the signature trolls hair in the form of paper troll headbands with cardboard cutouts. For the VIP attendees with a higher-priced ticket, the trollification went further at a Trolls pop-up salon, where staff painted their faces and equipped them with a troll hair wig to wear for the remainder of the experience.
Next up, attendees followed the troll guide on the Rainbow Path to the next part of the adventure: “Branch’s Musical Mashup,” where attendees got to interact with all the forest critters of Trolls Village. Each character was touch-enabled and emitted specific sounds when attendees touched them. While I was tapping a pink and yellow musical flower, attendees were tapping other musical critters, and soon our tapping had the room sounding like a trolls-themed orchestra.
CATERBUS AND GEMS
Further down the Rainbow Path, attendees walked into the mouth of a colorful caterpillar themed bus called the “Caterbus.” The tour guide gave us the “important” task of catching as many gems (confetti) for decorations at Poppy’s party as possible. The wind then picked up and gems were flying all around which had everyone jumping around and reaching out to grasp every last gem. When the wind settled down attendees walked out of the “Caterbus” proudly showing off their gems to a Trolls staff member, who then gave them a token (a blue sparkly flower sticker) for their hard work in helping out Poppy.
“Critter Creek” was up next and this was where the competition heated up. Attendees stepped into Trolls Creek where the mission was simple: Invite as many animals at the creek to Poppy’s party as possible via a touch-screen wall. When the tour guide said “go” attendees had to race around playing tag, with each tag counting as an invite to the party as the clock counted down. (Cue the laughter and screams.)
Once attendees got all their invites out, it was time for the best part of “the best day ever”—Poppy’s party. Staff handed out 3D glasses as attendees walked into the party room. Our guide explained that just as Poppy always says, there is “power in hugs,” so to get the celebration started we had to hug our best troll friend. While hugs were given, and received, all of a sudden Poppy and her friends appeared on a video wall ready to party with everyone. (Cue more laughter and screams.) And with 3D glasses on, it felt like Poppy was actually in the room dancing to the “Trolls” theme song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” by Justin Timberlake. Other popular songs from the “Trolls” soundtrack were played as well. After the music stopped and Poppy waved goodbye to everyone, we were instructed to head downstairs for the afterparty.
Oh yes, there’s more. The afterparty room featured a scrapbooking station and photo activations. After taking pics, attendees received printed copies, as well as digital copies, via text or email, of their photos. Afterward, they were invited to sit under a big tree in the “Trolls Forest” to start scrapbooking. Staff were there to help them “trollify” their printed photos with different stickers and choose borders for their digital photo. The adventure, of course, couldn’t end without getting to see Poppy in real life—she made a special appearance on the way to the gift shop.
Trolls The Experience did so many things well for kids and families, starting with the gamification of it all, and the use of a countdown clock to get kids (and parents) moving. Another cool element: the swag, from troll hair to stickers to photos. Small children aren’t active on social media (we hope), so while it’s nice to have shareable moments for parents, it’s equally, or more important, to have tangible experiences like free goodies for kids to take home. Best day ever? We think so.