LAS VEGAS—The Sphere isn’t the only place in Vegas where U2 die-hards can immerse themselves in a fan-tastic experience.
In conjunction with the band’s live music experience, “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere,” Vibee, the Live Nation-founded destination experience company and VIP package provider for the band’s run of shows, opened a corresponding immersive fan portal called "Zoo Station: A U2:UV Experience" at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas.
The exhibit borrows its name from “Zoo Station,” the opening track on U2’s 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and the nickname for Zoologischer Garten, a Berlin train station that’s not far from Hansa Studios where much of that album was recorded.
Created in collaboration with U2’s creative director, Gavin Friday, along with input from the band, the experience is being described as a love letter to fans, allowing visitors to explore the inspirations behind Achtung Baby and its accompanying Zoo TV Tour. The ground floor of the space features an industrial aesthetic, modeled after a '90s-era Berlin train station, while the second floor offers a more modern, futuristic environment that pays homage to the shows at the Sphere. Vibee produced the experience and enlisted LA-based studio VTProDesign.
“We always start from the fans' perspective to try and understand what would make the experience special for them and build up from there,” explained Andrew Luft, vice president of partnerships at Vibee. “We wanted to create an experience where guests can hang out, shop, and immerse themselves in the band’s rich history.”
He added, “Rather than present historical artifacts like a traditional exhibit, we focused on bringing the many rich themes from the [Achtung Baby] album and the tour to life: mass media, consumerism, satellite technology, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
The 12,000-square-foot interactive exhibit space also includes Zoo TV Cinema, a 175-seat theater featuring 12 different films curated by The Edge and powered by Dolby Atmos. Plus, 20 different songs and sounds from the U2 archives are sampled in the soundscapes that play throughout the portal. “It was really important to Gavin to strike the right tone for the space: ambient but with hooks, a little dark, but warm,” Luft explained.
It’s these types of hidden details that help bring the experience to life, he added.
“Throughout the space are countless Easter eggs for superfans to discover. The serial number on the side of the subway car is the code from the bank notes the band used as confetti during the Zoo TV tour. The 16 screens in the Fly Bar match the 16 photo tiles on the cover of Achtung Baby. The graffiti icons stenciled throughout the space are the original icon set designed for Achtung Baby.” Visitors can scan QR codes throughout to access a guided tour of these details.
Upward of 6,500 people visit the experience on show days, so it was important to Vibee for its VIP guests to have time to explore the space, interact with the installations, take photos, and shop—crowd free—which is why the experience is exclusively open to VIP pass holders from 4 to 5 p.m. on show days. Additionally, there’s a DJ, drink discounts, and music video and short-form content screenings in Zoo TV Cinema during this time.
The Vibee packages combine concert tickets with a two-night hotel stay at The Venetian, plus perks like airport shuttles, nightlife access, gift bags, and a special commemorative fan book.
Zoo Station saw over 100,000 visitors during its first month and expects to welcome over 250,000 guests by the time the band wraps up its shows in February 2024, Luft said. It is currently closed and will reopen Dec. 1, when the shows resume. The first floor of the experience is free and open to the public, while Zoo TV Cinema is ticketed.
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