MY PASSPORT TO IRON CITY

Edited by Ariel Landrum and Christopher Edelen

Photos fro Dylan Bloom-Fernandez

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I’m someone who went and saw Alita: Battle Angel opening weekend, not because I was intimately familiar with the series, but because I’m a massive fan of anything and everything science fiction. Following that blind fandom, and some well-placed advertising thanks to the joy of cookies, I arrived outside of an inconspicuous warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles. Outside, it said Iron City Taqueria above the entrance. This was the beginning of my adventure at Passport to Iron City: The Alita Experience.

Once inside with my crew, we were paired up with some other folks waiting for what was to come. After choosing our game names and getting our I.D. badges, we became “black team.” Once assembled, we all walked into Kansas, the infamous bar where hunter-warriors in the Alita Universe go to quench their thirst. Now, this bar was not just beautiful, but also functional, and was made by the same prop builders and designers who built the sets for the actual movie. It showed, right down to the napkins on the tables. Everything inside had been meticulously rebuilt with passion. I knew we were citizens of Iron City now.

It all began inside the bar, where we searched for clues to earn ourselves the most credits, hoping to win a prize from The Factory. Bulletin boards glowed, showcasing the city’s wanted, and their respective bounties. Tables reserved for each team were easily located, and each contained a device with a screen full of information from Alita: Battle Angel. My team and I gulped it all down as quickly as we could before we set off. We also planned at the table, as time was of the essence and we would not be able to see all that was awaiting us. Once every team had assembled, we set off with our hearts beating hard.

The people running the festivities were amazing, and always in character. Everything around us was synced well. They all knew what to do and say when they noticed you going about your journey. From giving you clues about a riddle’s answer to letting you in on how to make some extra credits on the side, they always had great lines. And just a tip, the riddles of Zalem take time.

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The challenges ranged from utilizing our senses, to logic games, to tests of our memory. But all events received a properIron City treatment to theme them, and came to life via the wonderful actors. Something memorable was a surveillance event where we looked for those wanted criminals seen on the Kansas bulletin boards.

We were ushered into a small room filled with monitors reminiscent of CCTV. Once the timer began, the room exploded with shouting and pointing at criminals, which resulted in a perfect score for black team. We were ecstatic. The next activity was a race against the clock to make a giant puzzle on the wall, to “graffiti” the walls of Iron City, which we did successfully before any authorities became involved (thank goodness). By the end of it we had played a card game, placed bets, watched a Motorball race, and gotten our very own enhancements.

All in all, I had a really fun time going to this experience. It brought me back to all the sights and sounds that I appreciated when I saw Alita: Battle Angel in IMAX. It was something I will remember. The only thing I felt to be missing was Alita herself. My recommendation is: if you find yourself in one of the three cities putting this event on (Austin, Los Angeles, or New York), and enjoyed Alita or even just the world and characters, go to this and experience it for yourself. There is nothing quite like you and your friends frantically working with people who were recently strangers to solve puzzles and be the best in a world recreated from a movie. But do so soon, this is a limited engagement and will not be going on forever!

Follow Dylan B. on Instagram: @dbmasks