If you’re in New York or Los Angeles in the next few weeks, don’t miss the Stranger Things pop-up stores. The store’s website says “for a limited time,” without a specified end date, but you can currently reserve the free tickets through December 19. If you’re not planning to be in either of those places in time, the website also suggests it’ll be coming soon to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
I visited the New York store near Times Square, and while it is largely just that—a store—it is also a great photo opportunity with a few things to do and some really well-done, detailed recreations of Stranger Things settings. If you don’t want “spoilers,” stop here, go reserve your tickets, and have fun. If you’d like to see what’s inside, read on!
After entering through a neon-red-stripe-lit hallway, you’ll arrive in the Byers’ living room. Have a seat on the sofa, peruse the bookshelf, and don’t miss any of the detailed ’80s choices in recreating this space. (And, of course, check out the Pez dispensers and waffle lip balm.)
Ride your bike across town to the Hawkins Middle Snowball Dance and see what’s been left behind in the lockers. Shop in the Starcourt Mall for exclusive merch like the “I [demogorgon] NY” t-shirt.
Head over to the arcade and play classic ’80s arcade machines—coin-free! Be cool, other people are waiting, but at the right time of day (we chose a slot an hour before closing time), you can have plenty of play on Dig Dug and Galaga.
Then it’s time to hit the Russian lab, where I encountered some folks yelling at each other in German what to do next on the rift control system console, which may have been more amusing than actually doing it myself. But if you unlock the sequence, turn the keys, and press the button, you just might… well, see for yourself. (The one “puzzle” is not complicated at all, but if you’d like to experience this without having seen the solution, skip this video.)
Finally, visit the Demogorgon. He won’t bite. Probably. If he does, the photo opp was well worth it.
You should reserve timed tickets in advance, but they’re free. If you get to the door and realize you forgot, there is a virtual queue to join when you arrive. The New York location is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., while the LA one has slightly shorter hours Sunday through Thursday. Some of the merch you’ll find in the online store or elsewhere (like the soundtrack LP), but other pieces are exclusive. (The pop-up store’s website implies that one of the most interesting things I saw, the mashup figurine “Elegorgon,” a collaboration between Netflix and iam8bit, is exclusive, but if you follow that link, you can pre-order online as well.) If you haven’t finished the series, there’s nothing so spoiler-ridden that you’ll be regretting it, but you’ll definitely enjoy the experience more if you’ve seen the show. The store is recommended for ages 13+, but it doesn’t get any scarier than the photos and video you’ve seen here. (Unless you’re particularly afraid of ’80s arcade-style blacklight-glowing carpet.)