While all the geeks and gals of doom were filing into Hall H on Friday at the San Diego Comic-Con we were handed gold tokens bearing the Flynn’s Arcade logo on the front and a “Home of Tron” slogan on the back. You can see this very cool marketing keepsake (which I also made into my new custom Tron Legacy desktop picture) to the right of this paragraph. Sometime later during a Disney panel it was announced that if the bearer of this coin were to show up at J Street & 1st Avenue in downtown San Diego later in the day they could be used to gain access to special surprise.
Those who did show up on J Street, like Devindra Hardawar from /Film and Katey Rich from Cinema Blend, were outfitted with a black light and a map and were instructed to search the surrounding San Diego streets for “Flynn Lives” posters, which according to Devindra contained “hidden coordinates on the posters, which will lead to a certain location on the map.” The payoff for this elaborate scavenger hunt throughout the streets of San Diego was eventually making your way to the front door Flynn’s Arcade itself — which had been fully recreated at 335 6th Street. Clearly the marketing department at Disney was intent on creating a lot of buzz (and fun!) for Tron Legacy during Comic-Con. [Read Devindra’s account here; read Katey’s account here.]
Inside was a fully-functional video game arcade straight out of the 80s featuring Ms. Pac Man, Asteroids, Mr. Do, Track N’ Field, and many other games that I fed every quarter I could get my geeky hands on growing up, including the original Tron game. Trust me, being someone who spent half of his life in a video arcade IN the 80s, I can vouch for this joint’s authenticity… except there were a few scattered machines bearing a ‘Space Paranoids‘ logo. This is a game that, until this moment, only ever existed in Disney’s Tron universe! I was filled with geeky glee when one of the machines became free and I got my chance to take on a Recognizer in Space Paranoids! (Thanks Jordan for graciously giving me a turn). I was decimated in under a minute but that’s all right, Journey‘s “Separate Ways” was blasting over the sound system and I was having the time of my life.
After about 15 minutes, Flynn’s went dark and the music went from an upbeat Journey tune to an ominous Daft Punk atmospheric piece. At the back of the arcade the brick wall behind the Tron machine, which stood alone against it, swung out and revealed a dark passageway. The crowd was slowly ushered out of the arcade area and through this dark hallway. The walls of the passage were lined with several large white panels containing hand-drawn concept art for the next-generation LightCycle from the Tron Legacy footage we saw earlier at Comic-Con (see the pictures of the concept art below; see our coverage of the Tron panel here).
As we turned the corner at the final piece of concept art we came into a blue neon-lit room that had a actual, full-sized model of the new Legacy LightCycle complete with rider, on a rotating pedestal in the center—The ‘Prestige’ of the event, if you will. (Thanks Dan).
Okay. So, I’m In Flynn’s Arcade. I’m standing in front of an awesome looking life-sized LightCycle. Daft Punk is blasting over the sound system. At this moment my pants will admit there was a geek leak. This was a frakin unbelievably, phenomenally cool way to cap off this Tron event! (a ton of LightCycle pics below).
After my pants had enough, we left the LightCycle area and joined a short exit line where Flynn’s Arcade employees were handing out t-Shirts with either the Flynn’s Arcade arcade logo or ‘Flynn Lives’ across the front. I snagged a ‘Flynn Lives’ Tee and Empress Eve got herself a Flynn’s Arcade.
Overall the ‘Flynn’s Arcade’ event was ingenious and well beyond anything I have ever seen or heard of at any prior Comic-Con. I can’t say it personally made me any more likely to see Tron Legacy since I fully planned to see it prior to my visit to Flynn’s Arcade, but I’ve definitely seen the buzz factor for Legacy go up a thousand fold since the event—especially on the world’s new ‘buzz proving ground,’ Twitter.
Disney Marketers. You’ve earned the new High Score!
Please enter your Initials: A A…
A HUGE thank you goes out to Alex from FirstShowing.net for flexing his media muscle and getting the GoD crew into Flynn’s because we were too busy (and tired) on Friday night to run around San Diego and complete the scavenger hunt.