Asheville Wonderland Overrun with Curious Creatures - TribPapers

Asheville Wonderland Overrun with Curious Creatures

Folks having fun at the Asheville Alice in Wonderland Immersive Experience. Staff photo.

Asheville – For many years now the city of Asheville has been considered to be eclectic and unusual, some might even call it weird and wonderful, but on Saturday, October 8th, things seem to go to a whole new level. You might say Asheville got curiouser and curiouser.

It was a beautiful, blustery fall day. The sun was shining and people were out en mass. There were the usual things that you see in downtown Asheville, the PubCycle mobile bar that is propelled by people who peddle, the Asheville Art in the Park art show at Pack Square Park, people enjoying shopping, and eating in local restaurants, but then something unusual and delightful happened. The wonder that is Asheville literally became a Wonderland of sorts.

Suddenly, among the shoppers, the art seekers, and the beer drinkers, there started to appear caterpillars, cats with huge grins, and nattily dressed rabbits who seemed to be late for a very important date.

Throughout the crowds you started to see people, who appeared quite mad, wearing the most amazing assortment of decorated top hats, and queens wearing crowns and hearts. If you were very lucky you might even catch a glimpse of blonde hair and a blue dress with a white apron, and there she was, Alice herself.

Both tourists and locals alike were entranced and delighted, wondering whatever was going on. The boldest of them carefully approached these amazing creatures to find out. It was, of course, an Alice in Wonderland immersive break out room style game, except it was all outdoors and all over downtown Asheville. The downtown area literally became a huge virtual game board, with stories, riddles, and clues galore.

These types of cosplay (short for costume play) games have become very popular around the world, and have even turned into major events and conventions like Dragon Con and Comic Con, where everyone can dress up like their favorite characters and play the part.

Wikipedia describes Cosplay as, “an activity and performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character, and a broader use of the term “cosplay” applies to any costumed role-playing in venues apart from the stage. Any entity that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject. Favorite sources include anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, television series, and video games.”

This particular game was put on by CluedUpp Games. There were hundreds of teams playing between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, with each team including up to 6 people. CluedUpp Games creates immersive outdoor experiences that bring families, friends and colleagues together in unique and innovative ways. They have events in over 1200 locations and more than 80 countries worldwide, and over 2 million players have taken on the challenge and immersed themselves in a multi-award-winning CluedUpp event.

Costumes ranged from homemade, to store-bought, to rentals, but there was no doubt that you were looking at the March Hare, the Cheshire cat, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee and Tweedledumb, and, of course, Alice. The players included people of all age groups, and even a dog dressed as the caterpillar. All were trying to save Alice from the Queen of Hearts, who had kidnapped her and hidden her away with ill intent. Alice was saved by the end of the game, which did not make the Queen of Hearts on bit happy.

One thing was for certain, everyone had a fun time, whether participants or observers, and Asheville was even a bit more curious, weird, and Wonderlandful than usual.