Otherworld is located at 5819 Chantry Drive in Reynoldsburg, and has announced an opening date of May 24. To learn more about what Otherworld has in store, read our (614) Magazine coverage below!
Remember the OASIS, from Ready Player One, the immersive simulation game that sucked in players around the globe to escape from their dull existence? Columbus might have just gotten a step closer to that virtual reality. At least the escape part is down.
I need an escape. It’s a classic winter-in-central-Ohio gray day when I turn into the enormous parking lot of an abandoned strip mall off of Brice Road—a layer of fog has settled five feet above the pavement, and the faded lettering of a former Office Max marks the building in front of me. In the middle of the gray is a futuristic and intriguing sign: Otherworld. I park next to a car with the license plate “MORBID 1.” Despite the fact that I haven’t yet entered the building, I’m already transported.
Jordan Renda, Otherworld’s Creative Director and Founder, takes me on a tour of the building—formerly a Sports Authority—that’s being transformed by a team of designers. Their goal is nothing less than developing a brand-new genre of “gamified” entertainment. Renda describes it as a combination of an escape room, a role-playing game, an art installation, a children’s science center, and a haunted house. “It’s an interactive art installation that’s tied together with an overarching story,” he said. “We’re sort of blending all those things together to create something that’s totally new.”
When visitors arrive, they’ll learn their role in the story that’s about to unfold—serving as beta testers for a company called Otherworld Industries. “This company’s been developing this new sort of technology. It […] manifests this dream realm. So you’re unlocking this archetypal dream world that you can explore and go through,” Renda said. Visitors may also choose to follow a different path to learn the backstory of the company. In total, there will be roughly three-hours of content to explore.
As we walk through the rooms, Renda shares more about who—or what—will inhabit them. Expect to meet a 19-eyed creature whose orbs can track you, a seamstress in a room of spiders, a monster with an oversized bed, and a botanist experimenting with wild plants (Renda describes him as “Willy Wonka meets Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.”)
Even without having met these characters, I’m taken in by the design. With light projections, fantastical creatures, infinity mirrors, interactive control panels, and a central surreal-looking tree, Otherworld functions at a core level as a giant immersive piece of art, designed to be enjoyable even if visitors don’t want to solve any puzzles.
“A lot of this tech is just emerging where we can actually make a whole room change around you by, like, the touch of a small button,” Fabrication Director Leland Drexler-Russell said. “There’s an interactive, or multiple interactive elements in every single room.” These features include spiders whose legs visitors can control and gems that guests can explode. There are even opportunities to influence other visitors’ experiences.
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While Otherworld aims to be something entirely new, it’s inspired by the creators’ experiences with different forms of immersive art. Renda and Drexler-Russell both credit visits to City Museum in St. Louis as a formative early experience with large-scale interactive exhibits. Renda also spoke of attending Haunted House trade shows. “As a teenager I thought, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if you could add a story to this, add some themed elements,’ ” he said.
I wondered whether Otherworld could be compared to immersive theater experiences where guests wander through the set, often staged in multiple rooms, watching bits and pieces of story unfold along the way. Drexler-Russell confirmed my hunch, but added that in this case, the story is told with video and audio logs instead of actors. “It’s kind of like immersive theater, if it was combined with like a Burning Man art installation and a role-playing game,”Renda added.
Renda felt Columbus was the right place to bring Otherworld to life, and not just because of the abandoned retail space that’s available. “There’s a lot of people looking for, you know, culture, cultural activities like arts and entertainment, so it seemed like a good spot to do it from that angle,” he said. Our proximity to other large cities also convinced him. “We’re looking to not only attract people from Columbus, but to make it more of a regional thing.”
With the uptick in interest in escape rooms and other forms of immersive entertainment, it seemed to Renda like the right time to take things to the next level. “There’s so much information coming at us all the time; we just need to be interacting with it somehow,” he said.
How far Otherworld’s guests will take these interactions remains an open question, even to the designers. As the storyline and the art evolve, so do the possibilities for the experience. It’s “taking that idea of this immersive entertainment and really branching it and seeing where the limitations are,” Drexler-Russell said.
So how many levels could this world go? Plan a visit to Otherworld and find out for yourself.
Every year, the beautiful and lush space at Franklin Park Conservatory plays host to The Asian Festival. It’s a festival where Ohioans come together to celebrate all Asian cultures and cuisines ranging from China to India to Vietnam. Whether it’s inspired dance, martial arts, or new-to-you desserts, this festival offers a chance to explore Columbus’s rich Asian culture while enjoying a day at the Conservatory.
And before you head out this weekend, here are a few tips to making the most out of Asian Festival.
Let’s Just Get This Out Of The Way Now: It’s Free
Obviously, food and drinks, and anything else you want to purchase costs money, but it’s totally free to hang out. Bring your little ones! This time you won’t have to use the classic white lie to get free admission. You know the conversation I’m talking about: “Ok, today, you guys are all 10-years-old, got it?”
Hot From The Sun?Cool Off With Dessert
Asian Festival is mostly outdoors and Ohio’s summers can be just as brutal as Ohio’s winters. J-Pops are popsicles, but these send your local ice cream truck guy running home to his mom. These gourmet pops come in flavors like lemon basil or watermelon mint. On the other hand, options like Aloha Ice is your stop for shaved ice in a multitude of flavors. And of course, rolled ice cream courtesy of Simply Rolled Ice Cream LLC is your Insta-aesthetic option.
So You Think You Can… Art?
You don’t have to be exclusive to being a spectator throughout the weekend, there’s plenty of ways to participate. Saturday is loaded from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with craft-driven activities like Chinese calligraphy at 10 a.m., or paper animal construction at 4 p.m. Sunday keeps this ball rolling with activities like kimono design at 2 p.m.
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Step Out Of Your Cuisine Comfort Zone!
The classic American/Midwesterner in you might only think of that takeout joint down the road from your house when you think of Asian cuisine, but I’m here to tell you, you’re sorely mistaken and missing out. Asian food spans across many different countries. Do you love Ramen? Ok, admittedly, that’s an easy one, but your kids will know it and probably love it* (*no promises, kids are unpredictable).
What about Bahn Mi? Never had it? It’s a Vietnamese sandwich that will change your damn life. There’s also the opportunity to try the popular Hawaiian dish, poke—a rice bowl that typically features raw fish with veggies and sauces. Even your vegan friends can find a delicious Indian meal from Flavors Of India.
Have A (Tea) Party!
Saturday also plays host to tea tastings for those looking for something new in their mugs. The first of the two is slated earlier in the day while the second will serve as one of the last events to cap off the first day of the festival.
Asian Festival is happening Saturday, June 25 from 10:00AM- 8:00PM and Sunday, June 26 from 10:00AM0 6:00PM at Franklin Park.
The yee-haws just keep coming, as the organizers of the Whitehall Food Truck & Fun fest have announced Grammy-nominated country music artist Lee Brice will headline the festival’s 7th outing on Saturday, July 27.
Located on Yearling Rd in Whitehall, between Etna Rd and Langley Ave., the annual festival will run from 11 AM to 10 PM. Featuring more than 30 of Columbus’ best food trucks and live music from some of your favorite artists, the Food Truck Fest is free to attend.
Brice will top off the day’s performances at 8:30 PM on the City Stage. Read on for the full list of performers.
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City Stage 12:00pm-1:00pm – Yours for the Taking 1:30pm-3:00pm – Alexis Gomez 3:00pm – Marching Band 3:45pm-5:30pm – Three Ton Toad 6:00pm-8:00pm – North to Nashville 8:30pm-10:00pm – Lee Brice
Community Stage 11:00am-12:00pm – Lost Black Lab 12:30pm-1:30pm – Olde Cellar Band 2:00pm-3:00pm – Hurricane Jerry & The Surge 3:00pm – Marching Band 3:30pm-4:30pm – Ashley Martin Band 5:00pm-6:00pm – Whiskey Saints 6:30pm-7:30pm – Radio Tramps 8:00pm-10:00pm – Fabulous Johnson Brothers
With its more than 60 craft breweries (and counting); 150 beer bars, growler shops, and bottle stores; and over 300 restaurants serving craft beer, Columbus is one of the largest craft beer cities in the Midwest. Celebrate our booming booze culture with Columbus Craft Beer Week, now through May 25.
There are dozens of beer-centric events planned very day this week that we’re dying to put on your radar. And, don’t forget to take advantage of the one-time $5 off Lyft credit to or from any CCBW event with code CRAFTBEERCBUS.
Come join for free pinball and craft sour selections from Platform Beer Co.! Our kick-off party for CCBW is going to feature 8 different Sours from Platform and two free Pinball machines. Platform will be in attendance on Monday night to get the party started and Brewcadia will be offering free pinball the whole week!
All week long at The Crest Gastropub, Parsons location, they will be featuring an awesome Bacon and Beer menu with Land-Grant Brewing. What’s better than bacon and beer? How about lamb bacon, duck bacon, Irish bacon, Italian bacon, beef bacon, coconut bacon, or whatever wonderful morsels of bacon we decide to work with paired alongside an array of Land Grant Beers.
For Columbus Craft Beer Week, Perfect Pour is very excited to have a sampling of the Outer Reaches Sour Program from Rhinegeist, and host Rhinegeist’s brewer, Luke Cole in-house to talk about the brewery, the beers, and all things beer related. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!
Up to 12 teams can compete for the prestigious title of Lineage Brewing Jenga Champion. Free to enter. Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Tournament starts at 6pm and goes until a new champion is crowned.
Join us for another adventure with Hoof Hearted Brewing from Marengo, Ohio! Hoof Hearted swept the city with their amazing twist on brews back in 2011 and have become one of the most saught after/followed breweries in the region. Chef Joe will be preparing 5 special courses paired with 6 beers for a night not to miss. Cost: $65
Want to get the inside scoop on how to brew epic beers yourself?! Join our team of geeks as they help walk you through the process step-by-step. Together, we’ll explore some of the best and strangest ways to brew a good beer and you’ll get an insider look at how BrewDog does it too. The club is free to all who join!
Join Lineage Brewing for a Beer and Hand Pie tasting. We think our hand pies are the perfect pub food, and we want to show you why. We’ll pair four mini versions of our hand pies with 4 our our beers that we think go perfectly together.
Join us on Wednesday, May 22nd at 6pm for a five course beer pairing dinner with our friends at Little Fish Brewing. Each beer will be hand selected by owners and brewers Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White, to accompany the chef inspired menu. $50, five courses, five beers, limited to 30 seats.
Attend a free class to learn the basics about beer, featuring stylistic examples from two awesome local breweries. Lagers, Belgians, Ales, light to dark, we’ll take your taste buds on a fun trip. Reps from both breweries will explain each beer in detail and answer any beer related questions. This will be a fun and educational time sipping and discussing BEER.
*Seating will be limited, please RSVP with Perfect Pour by calling 614-553-7666, or comment in the event post on Facebook.
Our experts are putting together our most mouth watering pairing yet and we are bringing it to you for Columbus Craft Beer Week! This pairing will have 5 different Brewdog beers paired with 5 special desserts made by our super talented, in-house chefs, just for this occasion. Cost: $25
Join us in the Land-Grant Brewing Co. taproom May 17-19 and May 23-25 and order a Meat Sweats pairing flight. We have paired each portion of the Ray Ray’s world famous Meat Sweats Box with one of our tasty beers. We are donating $2 from each flight sold to the Pink Boots Society!
Stop in for a chance to win a Jones Snowboard prize pack and a Adirondack chair prize pack from 4-7PM! Alaskan beers include White, Icy Bay IPA, and Blonde. Two Roads line up includes Two Juicy, Lil Heaven, and Persian Lime Gose!!!
Tribute beer night is our tongue in cheek way of paying tribute to some of the breweries who’ve helped us along the way while having a little fun at their expense. Stop in for a few special release beers named in honor of other local breweries/beers. Guess the breweries and win some prizes.
Ever wish you had the PERFECT pierogi to savor with your favorite beer? Olentangy River Brewing Company and Sophie’s Pierogis are ready to show you! Join us as we prepare a selected menu of pierogis to pair perfectly with a selection of craft beers in a flight — find your favorite and come back for more!
Jackie O’s beer specials and exclusive tappings. Trivia starts at 8pm. Win some Jackie O’s swag and try some awesome beers from our friends at Jackie O’s. Final list will be released closer to the event!
We’ve teamed up with the very talented Chrissie’s Creations to bring you a flight of four tasty beers paired with four delicious cupcakes! Tickets are $25 with proceeds from the event going to the Heart Center of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Tickets are limited and can be purchased in advance or on the day if available.
Join us at The Grand Event Center during Columbus Craft Beer Week on Thursday, May 23 as we collaborate with Combustion Brewery and Taproom out of Pickerington, Ohio for our first Bites & Brews event. Throughout the unique five-course dinner, you will pair each chef-inspired dish with beers ranging from ales to IPAs. Reservations are required in advance and can be made on Eventbrite. Cost: $65
The BBOM returns for a third year. We’re still not a casino, but we’re giving you the chance to “gamble.” Of course not for money, that would be illegal and we wouldn’t be here next year for Beer Week. It works like this, you give us few bucks and you get to draw from the BBOM. You may get something you would rather give away or you may get a great craft brew. Can you handle the risk?
We partner with Sierra Nevada to crank out a tasty southern spread as a way to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. 100% of the crawfish dinner sales are donated to this great central Ohio organization. It’s our chance to help those that need help the most. Tickets are just for dinner. Cost: $20
Nostalgia Brewing has partnered with The Drunken Donut to provide a flight of four Nostalgia beers and four boozy donuts made with the paired beers! PLUS a 5 oz sample of our collaboration Boozy Donut Beer – all for only $18! This event will be limited to the first 60 who purchase a ticket and will take place on our patio from 6 PM – 8 PM on 5/24/2019. Cost: $18
This amplified beer school and tasting will be hosted by one of Cicerone certified humans. Our museum will be turned into a massive tasting room! We will walk you through the brewing process and all the geekery that goes into making the epic crafts you love! (there will also be plenty of beer tasting too!)
The band, a self-described mix of pop, blues and soul, is fronted by singer/songwriters Adam Darling and Stephanie Amber. Appropriately named, Honey and Blue combines Darling’s sultry, bluesy sounds with Amber’s soulful, whimsical take on lyrics and harmony.
A great wrap up to a long Columbus Craft Beer Week, our new in house food provider Short & Stout Kitchen will be providing some delicious comfort food, while we play a curated selection New Orlean’s legend Trombone Shorty and other Jazz greats! Abita drink specials + House Hurricanes!
We are welcoming Cat Welfare to our taproom during beer week for a fundraiser and adoption event!! One dollar from every beer sold from 12-3 will go to support Cat Welfare‘s mission. They will also be bringing some cute cats that are up for adoption. Of course, this is beer week so we will be selling buckets of Assistant Manager Beer (named after our brewery cat) in cans.
So you know these guys can brew, but how good is their aim? Come find out as Pretentious Barrel House hosts the first annual Skee-Bus Brewer’s Cup. Cheer on your favorite brewers from Land Grant, Lineage, Parsons North, Ill Mannered, North High, Seventh Son, and Dankhouse as they go head-to-head to see who rolls the mightiest and which brewery is the best *wink wink*. Victors walk away with the highly coveted, very expensive, Brewer’s Cup and the right to donate proceeds to the charity of their choice. Plus, you might walk away with some great prizes.
Join the BrewDog crew at DogTap Columbus on Saturday May 25th to [unofficially] close out Columbus Craft Beer Week Presented by Giant Eagle with a bang! Tickets are free – just follow the link to claim yours! This epic party will feature an amazing tap list with a special Summer showcase on our container bar, brewery tours, bands playing throughout the day, Doggy pool party at our Dog Park and much more!
Johnny from Jackie O’s will be spinning records and setting the mood for an end of the week celebration to beer week. Specialty bottles and drafts of Jackie O’s brew will be on hand with a pairing menu from the kitchen (available all week during beer week). If you’ve ever wanted to dance at a restaurant during dinner this is your chance.
Nurse your Craft Beer Week hangover with this family friendly event in our upstairs bar. We will have cartoons, face painting, and coloring for your small children…we will also have lots of adult beverages including special drafts just around for beer week. Entry is FREE.