The Godzilla Encounter Opens in San Diego!

A word of warning to those attending Comic-Con International San Diego: Godzilla has landed.

SHH was invited by Legendary Pictures to attend the interactive “Godzilla Encounter” in San Diego’s Gaslamp District on Tuesday evening. The event set to run through Sunday, you can read about how to reserve your own free tickets by clicking here.

Equal part museum and theme park ride, the Encounter is housed in a freestanding structure not far from the convention center. Decorated on the outside with the Japanese “Gojira” logo (the original name for the reptilian behemoth), the building is surrounded by in-character military officers and yellow caution tape. Once guests step through the front door, they’re treated to a replica of a small Tokyo shopping district with innumerable references to the history of the Godzilla character.

On one wall is a massive graffiti tribute to Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects director responsible for the original Godzilla design. Across from him is the original Oxygen Destroyer prop from the 1954 film, on loan from Toho Studios. In the center of it all is the fully functional “Shindo’s Ramen Bar” (which die hard fans might recognize as a nod to 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah). Then, in the very back, is a room dedicated entirely to Godzilla merchandise and the different looks the character has received over the past six decades.

One could likely spend hours in the museum part of the experience and still find himself or herself discovering all sorts of hidden inside jokes and references, but as Godzilla reaches the mainland, the building begins to quake and uniformed soldiers march into the street and attempt to escort visitors to safety. Led through a scientific monitoring facility, guests are scanned by scientists with geiger counters and told that they have to be evacuated through a helicopter pad on the roof. The elevator soon stops and lets everyone off at the top floor of an office building, just as the entire structure begins to shake harder than ever. Through the windows, heavy rain pours down and, in the distance, a shape begins to move closer and closer until Godzilla’s face finally roars right at the window.

Although it’s said that the final look for the 2014 film may differ somewhat, Godzilla fans should be delighted to learn that the look of the creature in the Gareth Edwards film is just about spot-on to the classic Tsuburaya design and it’s genuinely hard to tell how much of it is CGI and how much is practical effects.

If you’re not attending Comic-Con in San Diego this week, you may have to wait a bit longer to experience Godzilla face to face. The film, which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston and Sally Hawkins, is slated for a May 16, 2014 release.

Click here to check out our full Comic-Con gallery, which includes more than 50 shots from in and around the Godzilla Encounter.