Weta Workshop has opened a new immersive experience in Auckland that’ll thrill visitors during the school holidays – and beyond.
We were treated to a sneak peek at Weta Workshop Unleashed last week, and can’t say enough good things about it—except doing so might spoil some of the many surprises on offer. Without giving too much away, Weta Workshop Unleashed is a tour through a fantasised film workshop, where Weta is hard at work on three films: a sci-fi adventure, a farmyard horror, and an epic fantasy.
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All three are creations of their own devising with the Unleashed experience in mind, and not destined for the big screen just yet (as far as we know anyway). This has allowed Weta Workshop the freedom to fully unleash their creativity at Unleashed. The results do not disappoint, with stunning production design, creatures, props and sets to feast your eyes on—as well as your hands.
On the guided tour you’ll be hard-pressed to soak up all the detail, in-jokes and film references to be found—not that you are likely to mind, as you’ll be too busy getting hands-on with many aspects of the creative process. As well as showcasing the creation of stuff from films, you’ll be encouraged to try it out for yourself. But don’t expect boring lecture theatres, this all happens inside the Unleashed experience, and is a hell of a lot of fun (like the challenge of a life-size game of Operation, alien autopsy-style).
That’s a key part of Weta Workshop Unleashed—encouraging creativity among its attendees of all ages. And it makes the experience much more engaging than being walked through an exhibit. If you do make the mistake that you’re in store for a walk and talk, that will quickly be dispelled on arrival…
Weta Workshop Unleashed can be found in SkyCity’s evolving Federal Street entertainment precinct. Here’s more from their media release:
Weta Workshop’s fantastical new experience Weta Workshop Unleashed will be revealed in Auckland today, promising visitors of all ages a journey through the creative process with surprises around every corner.
The new, immersive visitor attraction forms part of SkyCity’s evolving Federal Street entertainment precinct. Inside Weta Workshop Unleashed, fantastical worlds come to life with resident monsters, galactic robots and a wildly realistic giant.
New Zealanders will be the first in the world to experience this new guided attraction which opens to the public on Tuesday December 15.
Weta Workshop Unleashed will complement Weta Workshop’s existing Wellington-based movie effects tours and experiences by showcasing their skills as conceptual designers and storytellers in a brand-new way.
Weta Workshop Unleashed takes inspiration from its namesake, Weta Workshop. For over 25 years the Workshop has applied its craftsmanship to blockbuster films including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Avatar, Blade Runner 2049, and most recently, Mulan. In recent years, the Academy Award®-winning design and physical effects facility is also a producer of consumer products, interactive projects and creator of immersive location-based experiences.
It is an exciting move for Weta Workshop, representing the first tourism venture outside of its home base operation in Miramar, Wellington.
Weta Workshop Unleashed represents the fulfilment of a long-term vision for Weta Workshop, says Weta Workshop co-founder Richard Taylor.
“Every year we would have many thousands of visitors who want to come through our workshop. But because of the confidentiality and health and safety restrictions, it’s simply not practical to bring people into the actual workshop. While we have a tourism experience for fans who come to Wellington, we have long had the desire to create something fun, compelling and educational for a broader audience, that is free of some of those restrictions.
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“Weta Workshop Unleashed combines all the creativity of our wonderful team of artists and craftspeople back in Wellington. We’ve created this experience with the distinct desire to unleash people’s aspirations to make cool stuff,” he says.
Co-founder Tania Rodger says in addition to celebrating creativity Weta Workshop Unleashed also shines a spotlight on the film genres that Weta Workshop is best known for.
“We’ve invented three original film concepts from the genres that we love – horror, fantasy and sci-fi – to showcase how physical effects and props are imagined and then created for the movies.
“Guests who come to Weta Workshop Unleashed will see all the effects we have created for these films, as if they were about to go into production. And one day they just might be!”
Weta Workshop General Manager David Wilks says the new SkyCity precinct created opportunity for Weta Workshop to open another location in New Zealand.
“We have been creating fun, educational and engaging experiences like this for our clients all around the world – and we really wanted to do something for ourselves – here in New Zealand.
“SkyCity provided the perfect opportunity for this with the development of the new Federal St entertainment precinct. Together with SkyCity and our neighbours, the All Blacks Experience, we have created something totally unique and special that celebrates New Zealand’s identity and creativity.”
Weta Workshop’s Head of Tourism, Jake Downing, says the company did hit pause when COVI19 hit, given the impacts of border restrictions on tourism and the concerns around travel and tourism.
But, given the long-term nature of the project, it was decided to keep going and launch the experience in 2020.
“We are excited to be working on an Auckland-based attraction that will showcase our capabilities to even more New Zealanders and, in coming years, to international tourists,” says
Over the past four years, Weta Workshop’s location-based experience division has enjoyed steady growth and critical acclaim in the industry, most notably for their creative collaborations with Te Papa. The record-breaking Gallipoli: The scale of our war, which has exhibited in the capital since 2015, won a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement—an accolade that recognises the very best themed entertainment and design projects, worldwide.
Opening just in time for the Christmas holidays, fans can now secure tickets to Weta Workshop Unleashed here.