HBO builds real life “Westworld” exhibit at SXSW

The network went all out with their budget, and the photos look pretty close to the real deal

By Nicole Karlis

Senior Writer

Published March 10, 2018 2:15PM (EST)


A dream has come true for fans of the HBO science fiction thriller, “Westworld” at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals this year. Indeed, HBO has splurged and created an interactive exhibit mimicking the Wild West theme park full of surprises and indulgences in the show.

If you haven’t watched "Westworld," it’s based off the 1973 film “Westworld”--written and directed by American novelist Michael Crichton. In the HBO show--which stars Rachel Evan Wood, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden and more--wealthy people of the future visit Westworld to live a reality they can’t in their real lives. The amusement park takes visitors back to past in the America's cowboy days, where they can participate in immoral activities without suffering the consequences. The robotic hosts are disguised as humans.

This isn’t just a small installment at the conference. The amusement park is located 20 minutes outside of Austin, Texas--where SXSW is taking place--in J. Lorraine Ghost Town. According to the HBO website for the exhibit, the journey to visiting the Westworld park is similar to that in the show. Guests first complete a Delos questionnaire and are given a hat based on their answer selections. Following the completion of the questionnaire, guests board a train like the characters William and Logan did in the first season; they’re then taken to a replica of Sweetwater. Once inside, they can mingle with 40 hosts who have their own narratives making the guests part of the game--just like in the show.

Hosts are reportedly working off a 444-page script. There are also reportedly chances to get a sneak peak of season 2--which debuts April 22nd.

Westworld had a similar stunt at San Diego and New York Comic-Cons, but this is the first time it had access to a perfect Wild West-like location, making it closer to appearing like the real deal.

Visitors are understandably tweeting about their experiences, giving those are who aren’t there an inside look into what they’re missing.

CNN’s Jake Tapper paid a visit.

As did other journalists, some who claim the experience is “mind blowing.”

By Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon, specializing in health and science. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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Anthony Hopkins Ed Harris Jake Tapper James Marsden Rachel Evan Wood Sxsw Westworld Westworld Season 2