When I first saw a brochure for the Area 51 Project experience at my hostel in Budapest, I instantly knew that I *had* to go. Not only am I a huge sci-fi geek, I’m always excited to discover new weird and offbeat attractions to share with my readers.
Remember the cat art museum in Amsterdam, the miniature museum in Besalu or the cathedral made entirely out of salt near Krakow? I’m all about the unusual, offbeat and alternative things that are often overlooked by others.
The Area 51 Project, involves you actually participating in an interactive theatrical performance that centers around the Russian government’s cover-up about the existence of alien life. You and other enthusiastic geeks take part in the performance directly alongside a large cast of Hungarian actors and actresses. In fact, you may be surprised at some points to discover just who’s an actor and who’s a participant!
Arriving late last Tuesday evening at Area 51, I easily spotted the “black coliseum” due to it’s rather prominent signage. Located in a large industrial warehouse in a remote area of Budapest, it looked dark and mysterious with only a few lights illuminating the entrance.
Stopping by the small booth just outside to purchase my ticket (which cost about 3500 forints or 13 euros), I was advised the performance would start about 30 minutes later and told to enter the main building where there was a small cafe. As I was starving, it was the perfect time to have an espresso and croissant!
Waiting for the for the show to start, I smiled when I saw men wearing jumpsuits and sunglasses closely guarding the doors to the performance area. Frantic sounds of people running and screaming came from inside. Myself and a couple of other girls looked at one another and nervously laughed.
Just what were we getting ourselves into?
As I questioned the waitress about the project, I discovered to my slight dismay that the performance would be entirely in Hungarian! Shaking my head and laughing, I admonished myself for being such a poor travel blogger. I should have called in advance and not have assumed that it would be in multiple languages as was their web site and brochure.
Asking her if I would still get a general feel for what was happening, she reassured me that although I would not understand everything that I should be able to enjoy the experience. She also kindly contacted the other actors in advance and had one of the “men in black” speak English for my benefit.
Finally, more participants arrived and it was time to start.
We entered a large room with a stage in the middle. Several men (and one woman) in black spoke to us and provided stern instructions about what we could and could not do. After watching a video that introduced and exposed the whole Russian Roswell story, we were asked to step up on the stage. With that we disappeared in a cloud of smoke and haze …
For the next 45 minutes we became part of the story and as promised involved in the performance. While I don’t want to spoil any surprises, I can tell you that you will encounter alien life and you will get to board a flying saucer!
The whole things last about 45 – 60 minutes. While some members of my group seemed frightened and anxious at times, most of us couldn’t stop giggling. The more serious the actors were, the more we laughed. It was silly, cheesy and a whole lot of fun!
So if you’re looking for a weird and offbeat activity to do in Budapest, Area 51 certainly fits the bill.
Tips – Several performances run each day except Mondays. You can purchase tickets on site or at other locations throughout the city. If you have a large enough group, it might be possibleto see a performance in English or German but it will need to be arranged by either calling or emailing them in advance. As the theatre’s location is not within Central Budapest, you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to get there.
Area 51 Project
1138 Budapest, Váci út 152-156, Hungary
Looking for other tips about what to do when in Budapest? Why not check out my comprehensive Weekend Guide to Budapest, Volume 1. And if you’re not convinced as to whether or not it’s a worthwhile city to visit, take a look at how Budapest looks as dusk settles over the Danube.