When I’m at a major conference, I try not to take on anything that consumes 4-5 hours of my time. Of course, I make exceptions – which you have to do from time to time at SXSW. Long lines for movie premieres or major events are a common thing. When I found that Westworld was going to have an experience at SXSW, I knew I couldn’t pass this up – no matter how long it took. The end result was an event I will never forget.
How HBO Built Westworld at SXSW
About 30 miles northwest of Austin sits the J. Lorraine TX Ghost Town. A theme park open year round and host to many different events. Therefore, it would make sense that HBO and Westworld would use this to set up the town of Sweetwater – the main town in the TV series.
With simple re-branding of some buildings, the real-life adventure can begin.
Starting Out at SXSW
Everyone gathered at the EastSide Tavern to get on a bus for the event. We were given wool cowboy hats with the Westworld logo inside. You either got Black or White hats, depending on if you were good, or bad.
I guess I was a bad guy…
There were two ways to get to the event – by bus, or through a special code via Lyft. Random code-entered rides would see a Lyft Premiere pick them up and take them to the park. I calculated around 6,000 people got to experience the event
Going Through Sweetwater
After the 45 minute bus ride, we passed through a train car (like one that would take you to the town in the show) and found ourselves in Sweetwater on the other side. We had 2 coins for drink, and could find more in different places. I even found one in a spitoon (thank goodness it wasn’t being used for what it was made for).
60 actors playing roles for a 3-act structure. In my adventure, I had to find the town gossip to get a code to try and find the end game. But since my time was limited, I decided to wander the park and pick up scenes as they went.
The Park had Cross Over Points
Workers from Westworld could be seen from time-to-time in their white hazmat-type suits, sporting tablets to (assumably) make sure all characters were working in normal parameters. But if you were lucky, you saw the Samurai walking the park, showing there were unresolved issues. A factor that will present itself in Season 2 of the show.
More in the Video
Check out the video for this event I put together. As Westworld is one of my favorite shows, I wanted to give you the once-in a lifetime experience I had.Don’t forget to catch up on Westworld to get ready for Season 2!