San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) offers a lot for attendees to view and experience. In the case of offsite activations, fans are offered unique interactive experiences which bridge the gap between imagination and reality. The offsite activations at SDCC 50 raised the bar of exceptionalism to a whole new level, and a perfect example of this is AMC’s “Deadquarters.”
The AMC booth on the exhibit hall floor itself was, in my opinion, one of the best booths to visit since I first began attending Comic-Con several years ago. Each year the design team challenged themselves to bring to life a pivotal scene or a memorable setting from the recently aired Walking Dead seasons for every attendee to interact with. The booth was also a great place to take a souvenir photo to show your friends and family the cool things they were missing.
In 2018, AMC had a booth on the show floor as well as of an offsite activation across from the convention center. This year they chose to move off from the show floor altogether and set up a combined activation just outside of the Hilton Gaslamp Hotel which cover both The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.
- Plane Crash Site – from Season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead.
- The Treehouse – from Season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead.
- Route to Hilltop – an enclosure which housed an escape-room styled reenactment scene from The Walking Dead Season 9 finale where the inhabitants of the Kingdom were forced to make the wintery trek through Whisperer territory in order to get to Hilltop.
- Gaming center – featuring a VR game demonstration.
As I first entered “Deadquarters”, I was in awe of the setup and attention to detail that was put in. For example, several Walkers played their part to perfection, there were also smoke effects to help sell a certain, important plane crash from Fear of the Walking Dead.
As I went through each of the three interactive zones, I found that each one did a great job immersing us into the Walking Dead universe. Yet after going through the offsite overall, I must say the best attraction was the “Route to Hilltop” activation. As we entered the enclosure we were greeted by an actor who was ‘our leader,’ and his job was to explain the situation we were all in and what we had to do. Once inside, everyone had to navigate through a maze of trees while in a simulated snowstorm – the temperature-controlled room was cooled and had snow effects which added a sense of realism to the attraction. We were, of course, greeted by Walkers and we also saw the boundary line which was setup with heads on spikes. In order to reach our objective we had to find a couple of objects and the with the Walkers emerging from multiple directions – even from the ground – there was no doubt our pulses were elevated.
- Survious and AMC offered demos of The Walking Dead Onslaught VR Game ahead of its scheduled fall release.
- Next Games held auditions for their “Become a Hero” contest, for which fans can film their best hero poses from the series, for a chance to transform into a playable character in the popular location-based augmented reality mobile game, The Walking Dead: Our World.
- FTX games offered demos of their upcoming puzzle/role-playing game titled The Walking Dead: Outbreak.
Lastly, I wanted to mention a good cause AMC supported onsite at the activation this year. AMC partnered with Feeding America and encouraged DeadQuarters visitors to bring canned foods for donation to the activation during SDCC to benefit the organization’s local chapter: Feeding San Diego. A collection booth set up that was near the entrance of the offsite and as a bonus donors would receive an exclusive Hilltop Token, which could be used for special deals on food, retail, and entertainment around San Diego.
Here’s more information about Feeding San Diego:
Feeding San Diego is a non-profit organization on a mission to end hunger and reduce food waste. Established in 2007, FSD is the leading hunger-relief and food rescue organization in San Diego County and the only Feeding America affiliate in the region. Currently, one in eight San Diegans, including one in six children, face hunger each day. FSD provides 500,000 meals every week to children, adults and seniors in partnership with a network of 245 local charities, schools, faith communities, and food pantries. Through an efficient model focused on reducing our impact on the environment, every dollar donated helps provide four nutritious meals to people facing hunger. To learn more about Feeding San Diego and its hunger-relief initiatives, visit feedingsandiego.org.
AMC’s “Deadquarters” exceeded all of my expectations compared to other offsites I have attended they definitely raised the bar for design and execution. If AMC plans to return to the exact same site next year, they may have to consider expanding the layout if they plan to include the new untitled 2020 series as well as the upcoming feature film.
Overall, the experience was great and I look forward to seeing what AMC has in store for us in 2020.