Touring Area15 beyond Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart

The upper level of Area15’s Emporium video-game lounge
Photo: Steve Marcus

Omega Mart is vast, but it occupies only a third of Area15. The rest of the 200,000 square-foot, charcoal-color mystery box—a cooperative effort between New York-based firms Beneville Studios and Fisher Brothers—is devoted to unconventional dining, entertainment, retail and art. So much art, in fact, that some of it spills out of the building into the parking lot.

A sculpture park, Art Island, sits in front of the main entrance; it features several large pieces of erstwhile Burning Man art, including Michael Benisty’s “In Every Lifetime I Will Find You” (a metallic couple locked in an embrace) and Ivan McLean’s “Giant Disco” (a huge disco ball on spider-like legs). There are impressive pieces inside Area15, too, particularly Bart Kresa and Joshua Harker’s “Shogyo Mujo,” the imposing, digitally mapped video skull that greets you as the inner doors slide open.

Wink World

Two trippy, immersive installations await on the second level. The kunsthalle-style Museum Fiasco space features “Cluster,” an enveloping light-and-sound installation by Barcelona, Spain-based Playmodes Studio—the “audiovisual research” collective that created the “Beams” installation for Life Is Beautiful 2018. (Playmodes contributed to Omega Mart, as well; look for the light beam “cubicles.”) Next door is Wink World, a 3D gallery and suite of six infinity rooms created by Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink. (Wink also serves as Area15’s “director of content and cool sh*t.”)

At this time, it should be noted that while it’s free to enter Area15 (though a COVID-19-mandated reservation is required), most of its experiences—the virtual driving range and cocktail lounge Five Iron Golf, hatchet-hurling paradise Dueling Axes, full-body VR attraction Oz Experience, augmented reality tour Particle Quest, indoor zipline Haley’s Comet, flight simulator Birdly, immersive music and video show Gallerie 360, electronic mind-reader Brainstorm, outdoor rollerskating rink ElectroRoll and the aforementioned Museum Fiasco, Wink World and Omega Mart—are all separately ticketed attractions. (Admission to the two-story Emporium video game lounge is free, but the classic arcade games and pinball machines aren’t; you’ll need to change cash for tokens.) Some experiences can be grouped—the $30 adults/$24 children 12 and under “Birdbrain Bundle” gets you unlimited visits to Oz, Birdly and Brainstorm. But if you want to see everything there is to see at Area15, these individual attractions will cost you $5-$35 per adult, per visit.

If you’re feeling particularly immersive, you could also visit Area15 just for its food and drinks, and take in its free art pieces before or afterward. Todd English’s the Beast serves up delicious pizzas, burgers, noodles and other rib-sticking dishes from the James Beard Award winner. “Soda pop & candy shop” Rocket Fizz offers rare and nostalgic sugar rushes. Oddwood features craft cocktails under the softly glowing branches of a 25-foot-tall LED maple tree created by Color+Light. East Coast import Emack & Bolio’s scoops up its sustainably sourced, small-batch regular dairy and vegan ice creams right next to Las Vegas artist Henry Chang’s Mad Max-inspired art car Valyrian Steel. And later this year, Lost Spirits Distillery will offer “exceptional fine dining [and] world-class whiskey and rum” in a space approximating “a surreal amusement park, complete with boat rides, undersea trains and spectacular holograms.”

Visit area15.com to choose your adventure.

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