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In Vancouver, a Sign of Normalcy In an Otherworldly Fantasy Treat

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“Wings and Wizards” encourages guests to arrive in costume, bringing a fun Halloween vibe to summer, as DeNon Brijbassi shows. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

For those who have dreamed of escaping to a fantasy world during the past 15 months — and which citizen of Earth hasn’t? — a new event in Vancouver is welcome and uplifting theatre. “Wings and Wizards” debuts on June 8 in the cavernous depths of BC Place. Its premise is an interactive wizard world where a magic wand — ideally held by the youngest member of the entourage — twirls over keyholes to illuminate the floor in footprints that lead guests from one intriguing room to the next. Each group of guests passes through in staggered increments to accommodate for social distancing.

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Kids like Gabriel Brijbassi will be mesmerized by some of the magical displays at “Wings and Wizards”. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

The attraction reimagines the funhouse theme for a contemporary audience. Rooms incorporate magical tech that will entrance kids, who are charged with locating a dragon’s egg. A digital chalkboard full of type erases before their eyes and a voice commands them to trace fresh shapes with the wand. Elsewhere, a pair of animated trees speak with cartoonish charm and talking portraits hang on the walls of a lavish room that resembles a medieval banquet hall. The culmination is a dragon’s lair that explodes with action when the ornate egg encounters the wizard’s wand.

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The “Wings and Wizards” classroom shows the detention chore wayward wizards might endure if they use their powers for mischief. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

The rooms are beautifully decorated and carefully thought out. A collaboration of three local production companies and SHINE Experiences, “Wings and Wizards” brings much-needed fun when Vancouverites need it the most.

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An animated dragon is projected onto a large screen that wraps around a room in the “Wings and Wizards” exhibit. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

The attraction does have some shortcomings. Not all of the keyholes worked when my son’s wand passed over them, which caused some confusion, and the challenges that guests are confronted with lack the urgency of what you would find in an escape room. But because of COVID-19 precautions there are obvious limitations the organizers had to work around. They’ve done so very well, finding creative ways to ensure each set of guests moves through the exhibition space without contending with crowded rooms or unsanitary surfaces.

It takes 45 minutes to experience “Wings and Wizards” and it’s likely many attendees will want it to go on much longer — that’s how much we have craved the novelty and fun this show provides.

OTHER VANCOUVER HAPPENINGS

Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience: The Impressionist paintings of the Dutch master are projected on giant screens as guests wander through the exhibition space at the Vancouver Convention Centre. More than 200 of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings can be viewed. The show runs until August 29. Cost: $39.99-$99.99.

Hawksworth’s 10th Anniversary: One of Canada’s most acclaimed restaurants is celebrating a decade of culinary greatness with a virtual experience on June 12. The two-hour Saturday night event features chef David Hawksworth leading a live cooking class of some of his signature dishes. Guests include master magician and escapologist Matt Johnson, comedian Jane Stanton, and JUNO Award-winning vocal group The Tenors. To participate, diners can purchase the Hawksworth 10-Year Anniversary Kit, which is designed for two guests, for $139 per person and includes all pre-prepared ingredients for a four-course feast and a commemorative gift.

MORE ABOUT WINGS AND WIZARDS

Dates: June 8 to September (final date to be announced)
Venue: BC Place, Gate A, directly off Terry Fox Plaza (corner of Beatty and Robson Streets)
Tickets: Prices begin at $65, with duo and family packages starting at $100. Each ticket package includes one wand. Additional wands may be purchased for $30 each online. Tickets are available at www.wingsandwizards.com and Ticketmaster.
COVID-19 Precautions: Masks must be worn at all times by guests touring the attraction. Each set of guests, who would book tickets as a household or “bubble”,  enters the exhibition as a unit and moves through without interacting with guests ahead or behind them. Surfaces are sanitized frequently and guests are asked to not touch.

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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.

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