Aug 4, 2023 - Things to Do

Trippy interactive playground Otherworld opens in Philly

Who needs LSD when you have Otherworld? Photo: Isaac Avilucea/Axios

Imagine Tim Burton, Albert Einstein, Willy Wonka and Vincent Van Gogh took acid together and locked themselves in a room.

Driving the news: Otherworld Philadelphia, a trippy, "Alice in Wonderland" excursion down a rabbit hole wrapped around a blackhole, opens today in an old warehouse in Northeast Philly.

  • The interactive playground was created by CEO Jordan Renda and an army of creatives, including more than a half-dozen local artists. The first location opened in Columbus, Ohio, in 2019.

Isaac got a hard-hat tour of the place when it was still a canvas of concrete and half-assembled installations.

  • It's since been transformed into a touch museum with visitors able to change lighting and sounds in different rooms as they wander around exposing hidden clues that help to unlock a bigger mystery.

By the numbers: Hundreds of projectors, 32,000 feet of LED lights, mirrors and primordial monsters help bring the 40,000-square-foot space to life.

What they're saying: Renda, who grew up developing haunted houses and eventually branched out into escape rooms, compared Otherworld to an "open-world video game."

  • As for the inspiration behind it, Renda came clean: "Films, books, music," he said. "Psychedelics, of course."

The intrigue: There's plenty to see here. An infinity hall grows older and more dilapidated the further you peer down it.

  • Don't wig out when you walk into a hair-raising incarnation of creatures constructed from wigs.
  • The fractal temple is a geometric masterpiece that would make any mathematician beam.
  • Or check out the huge weeping willow tree, made with two miles of LED lights, that branches out amid a reflection pond.

If you go: Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am-8pm; Friday-Saturday from 10am-10pm; and Sunday from 10am-6pm.

  • Tickets: $34.99, but you can stay as long as you like once you're inside.

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