Not all of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con action took place on the convention center floor or in its ballrooms. While studios and producers like Marvel made headlines in Hall H, thousands of attendees to this year’s Con took time out to visit lavish, expensive activations geared toward an experiential visit to the worlds of films and series like Apple TV+’s “Severance,” HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and the upcoming “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” movie.
Fans eager to return to Comic-Con — the first since 2019, after two years of virtual events due to the pandemic — welcomed that ability to once again interact with pop culture. Here are five of the most notable activations at this year’s Comic-Con, which took place July 20 to July 24.
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Abbott Elementary: ABC’s “New Teacher Dis-Orientation” gave fans of the Emmy-nominated freshman comedy a chance to walk through the “school,” located next to the Hilton Bayfront hotel. Attendees could visit Janine’s classroom and contribute to real teachers in need through curated wish lists. Performances included a professional step-dance crew.
Severance: Apple TV+ turned a wing of the Hard Rock Hotel into the mysterious Lumon Industries. And praise Kier, Comic-Con visitors had the chance to undergo their own “Severance.” As “new employees,” guests experienced their own first-day orientation, starting with the boardroom, where Adam Scott’s voice welcomed crowds. They then were shuttled to different sections of the “severed” floor, with sets copied directly from the show — including the MDR, where new “innies” had a chance to refine data, interact with actors playing Lumon employees… and of course, dance to some defiant jazz.
House of the Dragon: “Bonding with a dragon means to dance with death,” fans were warned upon arrival at HBO’s activation. Guests entered the “Dragon’s Den” for a ceremonial dragon-hatching experience, carefully selecting an egg and earning the blessings of Targaryens past. After proving their Unburnt status by holding their hands to a fire and following the instructions of a no-nonsense Dragonkeeper, guests were (of course) treated to a photo-op on the Iron Throne as a gaggle of court musicians set the mood. At the experience’s end, fans gained access to the new “DracARys” app, which allowed them to meet their newly-hatched dragon in augmented reality—and continue their journey of dragon parenthood at home.
Stewart Cook/PictureGroup for FX
Stewart Cook/PictureGroup for FX
FX activation: The network took its “Fearless” tagline seriously, scaring up photo ops and interactive experiences for “Little Demon,” “Mayans M.C.” and more. After navigating a brief hedge maze (and getting spooked by hidden performers), fans were invited to a rancid high tea with the living dolls of “American Horror Stories” and a dance party at Nadja’s vampire nightclub from “What We Do in the Shadows.”
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Paramount took the role-playing element of D&D one step further at its activation, transforming a Gaslamp Quarter street corner into a fantastical tavern. Attendees could check out a Hall of Monsters and inside a virtual gelatinous cube before sipping on glowing green Dragon’s Brew crafted by TikTok star Quincy’s Tavern. First-look footage of Chris Pine and Regé-Jean Page in “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” was plastered on video screens along the walls of the experience, but the biggest spectacle was surely an enormous dragon, which roared and breathed green fire over the crowd.
And here are videos from some of those experiences:
“House of the Dragon”:
“Dungeons & Dragons”:
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