Interactive ‘Encanto’ experience in Tysons: Not cheap, but pretty magical

Interactive ‘Encanto’ experience in Tysons: Not cheap, but pretty magical

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We might not talk about Bruno, but we should definitely talk about the new, interactive “Encanto” experience in Tysons Corner.

“Encanto,” a heartwarming film about a family learning to love one another for who they are, set to a soundtrack full of Lin-Manuel Miranda bops, became a pandemic-era favorite of many families, including mine — even if the movie’s appeal did begin to wane (at least for some adults) somewhere around the 8,000th viewing. Still, when my social media feeds began to serve ads about this new interactive experience, called Disney Encanto x Camp Washington, it seemed like a no-brainer to try it with my 6-year-old daughter, Emma.

We showed up on a Tuesday night, with Emma grinning ear to ear and dressed like the fanciest “Encanto” character, Isabela.

“It’s totally the casita,” one little boy exclaimed as guests were brought through the “magic” door into a 5,000-square-foot re-creation of the home at the heart of the Family Madrigal’s story. While the theme of the interactive experience will change seasonally, the space for Camp — which includes retail and private party spaces — is a permanent addition to Tysons Corner Center. Parents, beware: Guests enter and exit the “Encanto” experience through the large toy shop stocked with goodies that kids will want to browse (and buy).

Within the experience itself are rooms themed to various members of the Family Madrigal. There’s also a casita courtyard that serves as a dance party backdrop. Main character Mirabel’s nursery is home to story time, where staffers read the “Encanto” story to children sitting on the floor and the room’s beds.

Isabela’s room is a floral paradise with a swinging bed, mounds of flowers ready to be thrown in the air and a merry-go-round on which kids can spin. Luisa’s room features inflatable barbells to “test” their strength, Luisa’s best-buddy donkeys to ride (in playground-rocker form) and a Skee-Ball game where kids can “throw” boulders like the strongest person in the Madrigal family. Antonio’s room is an animal-themed rainforest, complete with a treetop playground. Bruno’s room houses a telenovela performance by Bruno’s rats and a “hidden in the wall” location straight out of the film. Guests exit through Pepa’s room, where her emotions change the weather from sunny to rainy and even a sudden snowfall.

Staff members — who are dressed like the Madrigals, but aren’t playing any of the characters specifically — do a fantastic job engaging the kids, even the shy ones. They sing and dance to most of the beloved songs from the film and keep the kids moving from room to room with activities such as the “rainforest challenge” obstacle course and Abuela Alma’s scavenger hunt to find Bruno’s pet rats that are hidden in each room.

Tickets range from $30 to $44, and the experience lasts about an hour — the price includes visiting the casita, a trip to the make-your-own slime station, face painting and a commemorative photo. Extras can be purchased, including a glowing candle from the film that makes interactive pieces come alive in the casita.

Billed for kids age 2 and up, this experience hits right in the sweet spot for preschoolers and early-elementary-age kids. Older kids seemed to enjoy playing on their own but appeared less enthusiastic about interacting with the staff. The rooms themselves aren’t huge, but they never felt overly crowded.

The hour went by quickly, and moving from room to room felt chaotic at times. But Emma enjoyed how many things there were to do in each space. Though the theatrical experience isn’t cheap, it was worth it for my little “Encanto” fan.

“I loved it,” Emma said afterward, though she wished she had more time to play and explore. Is that her way of asking, “What else can I doooooooo?”

Tysons Corner Center, 1961 Chain Bridge Rd., Tysons. camp.com/disney-encanto-x-camp-dc. $30-$44. Tickets are currently available through April 28.

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