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HBO is building the town of Sweetwater for an immersive Westworld experience at SXSW

HBO is building the town of Sweetwater for an immersive Westworld experience at SXSW


An interactive adventure to start the second season hype

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Photo: HBO

Last year at San Diego Comic-Con, HBO hosted Westworld: The Experience, an immersive activation that let guests visit the offices of Delos, Inc., thanks to some impressive set design and the performances of many committed actors. At this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the network is upping that ante by recreating the series’s entire town of Sweetwater. SXSW is known its lavish brand activations, but this seems like a significant step up from past experiences.

Dubbed the “Live Without Limits Weekend,” the experience will run from March 9th through the 11th, serving as part of HBO’s marketing kickoff for Westworld’s second season. Series creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan are also taking part in a panel with several cast members during the SXSW festival. The new season is scheduled to premiere on April 22nd.

The two-hour activation will be spread out over two acres, with guests shuttled to the location via a “Delos shuttle” after checking in at a location in Austin. On-site, they will undergo an interview and evaluation process, similar to last year’s experience, and will receive either a black hat or a white one. At that point, they’ll be released into the re-creation of Sweetwater to explore. The location will include the show’s Coronado Hotel and Mariposa Saloon and will be populated with dozens of actors playing “hosts,” Westworld’s name for the robotic characters that roam its setting. Various clues and Easter eggs about the new season will be scattered throughout the area, and where a guest goes — or what they say to a given host — could potentially lead to new revelations.

If the traffic at Comic-Con was any indication, demand for the Westworld experience will be intense, but thankfully, this year, reservations will be available in advance on the Westworld website. (Some reservations will be available on-site for those attending the festival as well.) Along with both events, HBO will also be offering Westworld-themed Lyft rides and an invite-only Westworld flight from Los Angeles to Austin, in partnership with Delta Air Lines.