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A Visit to Meow Wolf and Omega Mart in Las Vegas

A Visit to Meow Wolf and Omega Mart in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is slowly evolving into a place for experiencing more than hangovers, debts, and regrets. I recently visited with family and asked friends for things to do. This is when I first heard about Meow Wolf. Thanks, Jenn!

Before going further, let me explain the Russian nesting doll that is this experience. Meow Wolf is a collective of artists, based in Santa Fe, that creates immersive experiences. The group is partially funded by George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones.

Meow Wolf created an immersive experience called Omega Mart in Las Vegas. The Omega Mart experience is found inside a building that is part of a new district in Las Vegas called Area 15. The name is presumably a play on the highly classified Area 51. The location is a couple of miles from the Vegas strip and the cabbies know it as “Area 15”, “Omega Mart” or “Meow Wolf”. 

You arrive in what looks like a recently constructed office park, with multiple three-story buildings. This collection of buildings is Area 15 and inside them are a wide variety of tech-oriented experiences.

As you enter, a loudspeaker detects your presence and barks orders as if you are entering a prison. This is where the apocalyptic future feel of the entire experience begins. A few art installations on the exterior set the tone.

It’s obvious that Omega Mart sees huge crowds. I visited on a Thursday afternoon in January and was mostly alone. This allowed me to experience it all on my own time. 

The building that houses the Omega Mart is like a huge warehouse that houses a modern mall, of sorts. There are multiple levels of entertainment options, with bars, restaurants, shops, axe throwing, golf simulators, and more. There are multiple paid experiences that fit into the psychedelic future theme.

Dominating an entire side of the space is a “store” called Omega Mart. The mart is main experience at Area 15 and it’s $49 to enter. On the day I went, walk-up tickets were available. 

At first glance, the Omega Mart appears to be a grocery store: brightly lit, with shelf after shelf of dry goods and deli cases. Soon you realize that everything is a surreal and fake version of actual groceries.

It’s interesting and extremely well done, but it’s a facade of what lurks behind it. 

You soon find yourself in the back rooms of the mart and step into a new realm of reality, where the products sold in the mart are made, I think. There is a very long and detailed backstory about the fictional Dram family behind the Omega Mart and their use of the “Source” which is an ingredient in its products and is toxic to produce. The glow of the experience is caused by toxic runoff.

The back side of the Omega Mart is dark, cavernous, and complicated. Incredible effort has been put into the music, the lighting design, the installations, and the overall feel. It’s very impressive and otherworldly. I’ve never been anywhere that so clearly appeals to psychedelics. 

Overall it’s all very dark and lit with neon colors. Ethereal music plays in almost every context.

The space must be explored to fully be fully experienced. The creative installations are mixed with very normal-seeming office situations. This juxtaposition added to the apocalyptic feel. The banality of toxic runoff, you might say.

These normal office scenes often included surprises. A small door inside a nondescript office may lead to an entirely new realm. A fireplace may actually be a two story tunnel that must be climbed with the use of a rope. A modest office door may open to a hall of mirrors. All the while, Dramcorp’s company messaging is on screens and installations.

The creativity (and entire experience) is overwhelming. Perhaps too overwhelming. I wasn’t fully engaged in the backstory and probably left without exploring everything. The overall message is about the folly of consumerism, capitalism, and corporate greed. And in true capitalist fashion, you can buy a huge variety of items from fake food to t-shirts. 
I left feeling amazed by the experience and particularly the breadth of the creativity and investment.

If you find yourself in Las Vegas and want to kill a few hours, this is something that should not be missed.