FX doesn’t skimp on its shows’ offsites when they come to San Diego Comic Con and the set up on the Hilton Bayfront lawn this year was no exception. There was maybe only one offsite (*cough* Westworld *cough*) that could boast as being more exclusive than the Legion Mixed Reality Experience. It was such an incredibly interactive experience that took an astonishing amount of moving pieces to accomplish.
First, Legion fans and hopefuls had to sign up through a website before the convention began in order to secure a timeslot. Spaces were limited and filled within a few minutes of publicly releasing the link. This created two lines for the experience – those with confirmed reservations and standby hopefuls who missed the sign-ups or hadn’t heard about the experience beforehand.
It was only after the confirmed reservations line emptied that anyone from the standby line would be taken. With a reservation, it took me an hour to get through the line and the experience. Every hour new confirmed reservations would show up and join the line. This meant that very few of the standby hopefuls were able to be accommodated if there was ever a lull between one hour and the next.
— NERDOPHILES (@nerdophiles) July 22, 2017
The first person let in from the standby line on Saturday had failed to make the cut-off the day before because the Experience closed. He had already been waiting three hours as confirmed reservations continually preempted his turn. I will say that the FX staff manning the line were very clear about expectations for the standby line, often actively discouraging people from wasting their time in the line. But for those that did stay, the FX staff was kind enough to bring them bandanas for the sun and seat pads for the ground to make their wait a little bit more bearable.
Once I made it to the front of the line, an in-character FX staff member helpfully explained the hand motions required to get the virtual reality portions to work. I happily practiced them – a backwards L-shape with your right hand and a deliberate pinching motion – and promptly forgot all about them in the wait between getting my medical bracelet (“the hardest part” according to the FX staffer who struggled to put it on my wrist) and actually starting the experience.
I don’t know whether all staffers were as in-character as the guy who gave me the preliminary instructions, but I appreciated his efforts. Once I’d finished my five minutes with him, it was time to put my stuff in a cubby and do some more waiting outside of the vine covered box that housed the SESSIONS experience.
When it was finally time to enter and begin, it was obvious why there was such a long wait. Inside, there were only enough seats for three people to participate at once. For each person, there was a chair and two people to assist in putting on the VR headset. After making your own adjustments to make sure you could see, it was time to start pinching at things. Fans were officially David Haller, checked into some kind of hospital or research center – the band never specified.
From there, I was moved into another room with another actor by the attendant who helpfully reminded me how to pinch things when I was having trouble working the headset and the hand movements. I also promptly forgot she was there while being asked questions and being given tasks to accomplish with the man sitting at the desk.
Soon, he’s overtaken by Syd giving instructions and he rushes me out of my seat. When he turns me around, The World’s Angriest Boy in the World is behind me – giant paper mache head and all. I’m sure I let out an, “Oh shit!” before I was thrust out of the room to safety and the end of the experience.
There was a photo op moment that I won’t share because the headset made my face look extremely small compared to the rest of me, but overall it was a fun time. I had a few mishaps with the headset and wielding the controls that were easily corrected and the wait time for standby was painful, but for fans who played along and wanted to experience the world of Legion this was a real treat of an off-site that I hope returns in a new form next year!