An interactive, multimedia experience at the Hard Rock Vault in Orlando gave fans an extraordinary opportunity to immerse themselves in rock ‘n roll’s compelling history.
Location: Orlando, FL
Anyone who has visited a Hard Rock Café knows it’s more than just a restaurant. The popular chain is an international shrine to rock ‘n roll, featuring an impressive collection of instruments, gold records, costumes, photos, and more.
Hard Rock’s owners knew in the early days of their history that their unique music memorabilia was a hit. They built a pop-up in London, home to the very first restaurant, to showcase pieces from their growing collection. The small venue drew big crowds, which is why the industrious team decided to elevate the experience and create a destination where the narrative of rock ‘n roll’s history could be brought to life. They turned to Falcon’s Treehouse to tell that story. Falcon’s was also contracted for content development, creative guardianship, and executive production. The creative firm’s collaboration with Hard Rock would result in a paradigm-shifting museum experience.
When the Hard Rock Vault project got underway in 2001, key questions had to be answered. What does this experience look like? How do people navigate it? What exactly do they see and hear? Falcon’s, led by chief creative officer, Cecil D. Magpuri, set out to resolve these matters. Invaluable support came from Steve Routhier, Hard Rock’s head curator and resident rock ‘n roll expert.
Defining rock ‘n roll and determining how to best tell its story was as difficult as it sounds, but Cecil and Steve agreed on their take: rock n’ roll music is a voice for the youth. It’s a coming of age expression that constantly reinvents itself for the next generation, becoming part of listeners’ personal soundtracks. That realization became the framework for the main guest experience, which would be called The Total Immersion Tour.
Falcon’s tapped into their knowledge of how to design immersive, pulsed experiences for theme parks when determining the direction to take The Total Immersion Tour. Guests would take a guided journey through a series of vignettes that was divided into five galleries: Punk Rock, The Dressing Room, Psychedelic, The British Invasion, and the King’s Chamber. There were still important details to hammer out, like what the story is and which stars to showcase, but eventually, the Falcon’s team cracked the code through countless hours of exhaustive research and script writing.
The Total Immersion Tour was a ticketed “event” that was included with admission. When it was their turn to take the tour, guests were pulsed into an introduction hall, an opulent yet rebellious setting. Here, the enthusiastic guide (and music expert) told the visitors they would encounter more than 1,000 pieces of authentic memorabilia. This was a golden chance to celebrate outrageous moments in rock ‘n roll’s history and connect with the rarest items in Hard Rock’s massive collection.
There was also a nifty creative element built into the guided tour that was hidden from visitors. The tour guide could customize the experience, based on comments from the group or answers to questions he or she posed, by selecting preset videos that would play to the group’s personal tastes.
The tour started in the Punk Rock gallery, which drew its inspiration from a New York City alleyway, complete with graffiti-splashed buildings and frayed t-shirts clinging to clotheslines.
In gallery two, The Dressing Room, guests saw how hard-working musicians transformed into bona fide rock stars. On display were some of the flashiest costumes ever worn on stage.
The Psychedelic gallery was a detailed reflection of the far out 1960s. Displays featuring stars such as The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix were lit by ghostly glows, and walls were lined with trippy posters and vintage album covers.
The next stop was a tribute to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, two bands who were once marketed as the antithesis of one another. Because of their good boy/bad boy reputations, the gallery was labeled The Light And The Dark. Symbolism played a big role here, with a sculpted rendering of an apple tree dominating the center of the room.
The last stop on the guided tour was reserved for Elvis. The King’s room was sectioned into different periods from his stardom: baby-faced sensation, silver screen star, legendary Vegas performer.
The Total Immersion Tour ended with a whisper from Elvis. “Thank you very much.”