It's a rainy Friday afternoon; about a dozen customers, mostly teens and twentysomethings, are in line at ABS-CBN Studio Experience in TriNoma Mall in Quezon City, buzzing over the treat they are about to experience. Finally, a black-shirted attendant steps up. It’s time to go inside Studio XP.
Studio XP’s conceptualization began with the suggestion from ABS-CBN president Carlo L. Katigbak to combine a flagship experience store with a pilot for a themed attraction. The ABS-CBN Themed Experiences team together with the Retail, Licensing and Storefronts team took this and assembled the best ABS-CBN brands into one sprawling “studio city” so fans and other visitors can live out their dream of acting, singing or competing in a Kapamilya teleserye, reality show or game show.
“We imagined so many possibilities for it,” says Cookie Bartolome, head of ABS-CBN Themed Experiences, of the brainstorming process with the teams of Retail, Licensing and Storefronts head Ina Quiogue and Licensing head Karen Coloma. In the end, they took their cue from the customer: What will make the customer happy? How does he want to bond with his family?
According to Bartolome, viewers are curious about what goes on behind the walls of ABSCBN, not knowing that they can book tours or watch programs as part of the studio audience.
“By bringing that experience closer to people, you sort of bridge the gap. The vision was really to bring ABS-CBN closer to the people,” Bartolome says.
The adventure begins at the Walk of Fame which leads to the Heritage Hall. Here, guests can inspect vintage memorabilia and broadcasting equipment as well as a visual narration of ABS-CBN’s history. In the center of the room is a replica of the Millennium Transmitter, one of the network’s most recognizable symbols.
Studio XP has 15 attractions divided into the Reality Studio and the Fantasy Studio, which may be accessed with an XPass.
The P375 XPass Prime for firsttime guests and P350 XPass Prime for returning guests gives them access to all the attractions except for #Starsnaps and Star Catcher. The P300 XPass Lite for first-timers and P275 XPass Lite for returning visitors, on the other hand, are good for all attractions except for #Starsnaps, Star Catcher and Kapamilya Theater.
The 80-seater Kapamilya Theater is the place to go for 4D films, interactive games and events such as meet and greets, concerts and launches with Kapamilya artists.
The team looks to produce local 3D content for the theater, including an “ASAP” 4D musical and interactive multiplayer games.
“While we saw best examples around the world, we tried to push the envelope and tried to see how it would appeal to customers in the Philippines, how we would wrap around our intellectual property around it—that was our guidepost when we were developing this whole project,” Bartolome reveals.
The theater will also be the venue for interactive multiplayer games inspired by ABS-CBN content.
“‘Misyon: Ang Probinsyano’ essentially is a patintero game, ‘Ang Propesiya: La Luna Sangre’ an agawan-base game, except that they’re wrapped around technology, you use a tablet as your joystick to maneuver your character,” Bartolome relates.
Beyond the Kapamilya Theater, the various attractions in the Reality Zone offers visitors a glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of their favorite Kapamilya reality shows. In the “It’s Showtime” Director’s Booth, visitors take the role of production crew as they execute the director’s instructions on the top-rating noontime show. In “The Voice” Open Mic, visitors can choose from a selection of songs as they try to impress the judges with their vocal talents, while in “Pinoy Big Brother” Breakout and “Minute to Win It”: The Experience seesvisitors completing various tasks within set time limits (see related story).
The Reality Zone also caters to those looking to catch their favorite Kapamilya stars. Expect the unexpected in Celebrity Calling, where the visitor who is first to answer the phone will get to chat one on one with a Kapamilya celebrity in a random and unscheduled video call.
For a minimal additional fee, visitors can try their luck at the Star Catcher, a claw machine which contains autographed items from Kapamilya stars as prizes, or pose virtually with their Kapamilya favorites for a photo, magazine cover or movie poster via #Starsnaps.
Starlab, on the other hand, offers a more interactive experience. Here, visitors can discover their star power as they dabble in singing (“Duets”), acting (“Eksena”), comedy (“Goin’ Bulilit”) and guest appearances (“Fast Talk”). The performance will be recorded for posterity and a copy can be sent to the customer via email.
The Fantasy Zone will delight the more active guests with Action Academy, an obstacle course that will pit as many as 20 action star “trainees” against each other in contests of speed and strength. In ARX, meanwhile, up to four players team up in an augmented reality game that will see them going all out to beat virtual enemies.
While they may also try most of the other attractions, guests 12 years old and below also have a special area with ball pits, tunnels and slides all to themselves dubbed Superheroes Playground.
To put “a punctuation mark to the experience,” visitors may cap their 2.5-hour Studio XP romp with a “funfood” stop at Heroes Burger, which sells burgers and cheeseburgers at pocket-friendly prices.
Thus far, Studio XP is on soft launch mode but the response from walk-in customers and from Bartolome’s counterparts from other theme parks has been encouraging. Of course, ABS-CBN employees and their families who made it a point to try out the studio city gave Studio XP a stamp of approval.
“They were so proud that ABS-CBN could come up with something like this. It’s unique, nothing comes quite close to it in the Philippines. Filipinos around the world can be proud that we have something like this,” Bartolome says.