- The Zone is a new interactive experience and retail shop in Los Angeles, California, dedicated to celebrating pop icon Britney Spears.
- Jeff Delson and Shannon Ramirez teamed up to create the 30,000-square-foot pop-up, which honors the singer's greatest songs, music videos, and outfits.
- I spent two hours at the elaborate pop-up and had the time of my life re-living some of Spears' greatest career moments.
- The pop-up runs through April 26 and visitors can buy general admission tickets online for $39.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
The Zone is a new pop-up exhibit in Los Angeles, California, dedicated to all things Britney Spears.
Located right across the street from The Grove shopping plaza in Los Angeles, the bright pink pop-up building is hard to miss.
Longtime Britney Spears fans Jeff Delson and Shannon Ramirez are the masterminds behind The Zone. They designed the one-of-a-kind pop-up experience to spotlight some of Spears' hit singles and visuals over the years.
"It took about two years of conceptualizing and planning to put this together," Delson told Insider. "There's a lot of detail involved, and as fans, we wanted to make sure we captured all of the little moments."
"Once we started construction, it took about three months to build it," Delson added.
The space (which was formerly a K-Mart) has been called "the most immersive fan experience ever," and features ten interactive rooms that showcase some of Spears' greatest music video moments.
I took a trip to The Zone during its opening week to see if it would live up to expectations.
Growing up a huge Britney Spears fan, I was excited to see everything the experience has to offer.
Upon walking toward the entrance, I noticed a large mural that featured two portraits of Spears. The one on the left is a painting of Spears holding a snake in an ode to her 2001 MTV Video Music Awards performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U." The close-up portrait on the right is the promo image from her "Piece of Me" world tour and Las Vegas residency.
The mural was designed by Rob Prior, who told Insider that the lifelike painting took around six and a half days to complete.
"The reaction has been awesome and a little overwhelming," Prior said. "It has made so many people happy. I'm honored to have been able to do it."
"And my fans have never seen me paint anything so large," Prior added.
The first thing I saw when I walked inside the building was a group of tall glass columns filled with memorabilia.
The main entrance to the pop-up is actually a retail shop that's open to the public, regardless of whether guests purchased tickets or not.
There are a few glass cases in the center of the shop that hold some of Spears' most iconic costumes, including the dress she wore as an 11-year-old contestant on the '80s TV show "Star Search," and the sheer orange jumpsuit from the music video for "Till the World Ends."
The retail shop also sells a variety of merchandise, ranging from "It's Britney B—-" hats to "Work B—-" T-shirts.
Delson told Insider that Spears donated the costumes to be used in the museum.
"Britney gave us her full endorsement, blessing, and support," Delson said. "She even donated these priceless costumes to put on display, and she's just been really excited. She loves her fans and we love her, so we wanted a place where they can step into her world and interact with her music."
My personal favorite costume on display was the blue flight attendant look that Spears wore in the music video for "Toxic."
Each case included a photo detailing when Spears actually wore the outfit.
The photo at the bottom of the case provided details about when and where Spears wore the iconic look.
Before entering the first room of the pop-up, I was provided with a special wristband that would allow me to interact with some of the displays.
At check-in, all guests receive an RFID wristband that is connected to The Zone app. The app allows visitors to download all of the photos and videos they take throughout the experience.
The first room of the experience is a replica of the high school classroom from Spears' "…Baby One More Time" music video.
Visitors are first taken to this high school classroom setup before moving through the rest of the pop-up. The room has the lyrics to the catchy tune written on a digital chalkboard, back-lit by pink fluorescent lights.
It probably wasn't a coincidence that the first room started with "…Baby One More Time," as it was her debut album, and the title track earned her a No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1999.
When I walked in, there was a staff member waiting in the classroom who had been tasked with introducing the experience.
The staff member gave a fun and lively introduction to the experience, encouraging us to "Britney out" and dance through the sets.
At the end of the introduction, the chalkboard wall revealed a video message from Spears' former assistant, Felicia Culotta.
Culotta delivered a comical and informational message about the rules and what visitors can expect ahead of the experience.
Fans may also recognize Culotta from her cameo as the school principal in "…Baby One More Time."
Before exiting the room, I peeked around the classroom in search of rare Spears memorabilia.
I found things that you would typically find in a classroom, like a backpack, pencil case, and other school supplies, but none of these items appeared to be standout items specifically related to the music video.
One of the cabinets in the classroom included a photo of Kobe Bryant and a small basketball.
It was a sweet tribute to the late basketball player.
The pop-up was filled with plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops, which I took advantage of throughout the experience.
Pop-up experiences such as The Zone differ from traditional museums in the sense that they are designed to be Instagrammable, as guests are encouraged to interact with the displays.
The high school theme of "…Baby One More Time" continues in the second room, where fans will find a nostalgic, locker-lined hallway.
"…Baby One More Time" can be heard playing in the background of their room, and guests are free to roam the space at their own pace.
Seeing the lockers lining the hallway took me right back to the early 2000s.
The lockers with pink handles open up to reveal school supplies.
One of the lockers I opened contained a bright pink backpack, a binder, a pencil case, and a round pink mirror. If I could do high school all over again, this is what I would want my locker to look like.
My journey through Britney High continued as I walked into the basketball gym.
The gym setup was located just around the corner from the lockers.
The banners on the walls highlighted some of Spears' major career accomplishments: The song "…Baby One More Time" earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 1999 and the album of the same name is certified 14x platinum in the United States by RIAA.
Some of the choreographed dance moves from the music video scene went through my mind as I posed for a picture on the court.
In the "…Baby One More Time" video, Spears shows off some impressive choreography on the court. This room also seemed to be inspired by the fact that Spears played basketball in high school, according to her yearbook.
After taking a closer look at the scoreboard, I noticed the numbers held a special meaning.
The numbers on the scoreboard each represented something significant about Spears. The pop star is currently 38 years old, she was born on December 2 (12:02), and she has two children.
On the opposite side of the basketball court, there's a different set of lockers where fans can write a note for Spears.
In true early-2000s fashion, you can leave a note for the pop star in her locker.
"Britney's going to be posting some of the best [notes] on her social media," Delson told Insider.
I wrote a note of my own to the singer, expressing my undying love for her.
I wrote a kind note and placed it in the bright pink locker.
The next room in the exhibit paid homage to the singer's second album, "Oops!… I Did It Again."
The space-themed room was an ode to Spears' "Oops!… I Did It Again" music video, which depicts the singer landing on Mars and capturing the heart of an astronaut.
I felt like I was stepping into a space station when I turned the corner to the room.
The galactic-themed set even included a life-size replica of the astronaut from the music video.
The astronaut on display is holding the blue jewel referenced in the spoken-word portion of the song — which is also a nod to "Titanic."
When you press on the jewel disguised as a button, you can hear the astronaut recite some of his lines from the song: "Britney, before you go there's something I want you to have," and "Well baby, I went down and got it for you."
The room also features the pop-up's first photo spot that can be connected to your wristband.
I stepped in front of the built-in camera and posed for a photo on a white prop, which looked exactly like the one that Spears was dancing on top of in the music video.
All of the photos you take throughout the experience are available to download from The Zone app.
I thought it was convenient that my photos would be attached to my personal wristband. After about a minute or so, I could view the photos I took on my account through The Zone app.
Dance enthusiasts will be excited to know that the next room is dedicated to Spears' music video for "Stronger."
In this dark room, guests are encouraged to perform a dance routine on a metal chair, just like Spears did in the "Stronger" video. The flashing black and white backdrop reminded me a bit of a scene out of "Star Wars."
On the way to the following display, I passed through a brightly-lit wooden hallway that resembled a scene from the "Me Against the Music" music video.
The hallways served as a transition from one room to the next.
The hallway led to an entire "Me Against the Music"-themed room, where guests can participate in a virtual dance-off between Madonna and Spears.
In this room, you can scan your wristband for an opportunity to recreate the dance-off scene between Spears and Madonna in the "Me Against the Music" video — and yes, you're Madonna in this situation.
As part of the interactive experience, I attempted the dance battle.
"We're telling people to unleash your inner Britney. Everyone has one," Ramirez said of the dance battle display.
So I followed along and unleashed my "inner Britney."
The final video is made up of side-by-side shots comparing your dancing to Spears' moves.
"There's a bunch of ways that you can interact in the space," Ramirez told Insider. "You can dance to the music, and we want you to feel free to do that. There's no judgment here."
"We want you to dance crazy. We want you to be your best Britney self and to really step outside of your comfort zone and live your best life," Ramirez added.
My group then boarded Britney Air in honor of one of Spears' most enduring hits: "Toxic."
The set resembled an actual airplane, and featured flashing pink and purple lights.
Visitors can put on a replica of Spears' flight attendant hat and pretend to walk down the aisle pushing a Champagne cart, just as she did in the "Toxic" video.
Out of all of the rooms I had journeyed through so far, the "Toxic"-themed space was my favorite.
Between the changing colorful lights, energizing music, and props that contributed to an Instagrammable moment, this display felt the most like an actual music video set.
An incredible amount of detail was also included in each part of the plane, such as the safety instructions inside the seat pockets that detailed how to properly drink your in-flight Champagne.
In the back of the plane, a pink telephone was ringing. When I answered it, I heard Spears say "It's Britney, b—-."
When I walked to the back of the plane, the phone started ringing. I answered and heard the famous line, "It's Britney, b—-," proceeded by an abrupt dial tone. It made me laugh hysterically because it was so unexpected.
Just when I thought the displays couldn't get any better, I entered an elaborate "Circus"-themed room.
When I first walked in, I saw an enormous ball pit and instantly decided that this was my new favorite room.
The upbeat title track "Circus" was playing in the background.
The first thing I did in the "Circus" exhibit was make my way to the platform located over the ball pit to capture an Instagram-worthy photo.
Visitors can use a ladder to get to the platform. In the words of Spears, I truly felt like "all eyes [were] on me in the center of the ring."
Right after that picture, I decided to test out the ball pit by jumping in.
The ball pit is one of the most exciting features of the circus, but visitors are encouraged to "trust fall" rather than nose-dive into the pit, as three feet is not that deep.
The circus theme truly comes to life with carnival games.
Visitors could try their hand at the ring toss while they waited for their turn in the ball pit.
There was also a fortune-teller machine that recited words of wisdom to guests who pressed the button.
"Relax more and do not worry so much about the future," the fortune-teller told me.
Other noteworthy memorabilia on display included a golden bike that was used during the "Circus" tour.
Spears embarked on a world tour for her "Circus" album in 2009, and it was one of the year's highest-grossing tours.
The golden bicycles were used as part of the tour.
The fun circus theme quickly ended as we walked into the following room, which was a tribute to Spears' "Blackout" album.
The dark, candle-lit chapel was dedicated to Spears' 2007 album, "Blackout." Although this room wasn't themed around a specific song or music video, the room was decorated in the same colors as the album's artwork, and is a reference to when fans nicknamed the pop icon "Godney" and "The Holy Spearit."
The album dropped around the same time as the star's public breakdown, and it portrayed a different version of Spears than her previous identity of "Miss American Dream."
One of the interactive elements in the room included a candle you could blow out that resulted in the entire altar going dark.
Fans can even kneel at the altar and pay homage to the album.
Organizers of The Zone say they've already had requests from couples wanting to get married in the church.
"People have already put in requests to host their wedding here," Delson said. Luckily for fans, The Zone does offer to host private events and weddings, according to its website.
Things got a bit brighter as we made our way to a jungle-themed set devoted to Spears' performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U" at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
Not only did Spears' iconic "I'm a Slave 4 U" performance include live tigers, but the pop icon also danced with a 7-foot-long Burmese python draped around her shoulders.
Footage from the memorable performance was projected onto a waterfall-like mist that you could walk under.
The song also played on a loop in the background, and the video of the performance reminded fans just how iconic it really was.
The week before I visited the pop-up, some of Spears' former dancers stopped by The Zone and broke out the same "I'm a Slave 4 U" choreography in this very room.
There were no live pythons in the room, but I did pose for a photo with a stuffed animal draped over my shoulders.
Once you step inside the cage, you can wrap the plush snake around your neck and scan your wristband to pose for a Boomerang video.
For the last and final stop of the exhibit, fans can take their very own tabloid photo on the red carpet.
The song "Piece of Me" plays in the background while fans strike their best poses in front of the flashing cameras.
"Piece of Me" is about Spears' mixed relationship with the media, specifically the paparazzi.
I scanned my wristband to activate the "paparazzi" camera.
Voices coming from all directions shouted, "Look over here, Britney!"
After leaving the red carpet, you can scan your wristband again to see what your photo looks like on a magazine cover.
Your personal tabloid will appear on the big screen.
The magazine featured my photo and a snarky headline that said, "Oops! Find out what we did!"
The room is also filled with several newsstands stacked with Spears' very first Rolling Stone magazine cover from 1999.
Spears first graced the cover of Rolling Stones magazine in 1999 at the age of 17.
The magazines at the pop-up were just part of the display, meaning visitors won't be able to take any home with them.
The tour ends at the gift shop, where visitors can stock up on all of their favorite Britney Spears products.
At the end of the exhibition, fans can commemorate their experience by purchasing exclusive items from the gift shop.
Fans hoping to experience The Zone can stop by the Los Angeles museum now through April 26.
Overall, The Zone is a place where fans can celebrate the career of one of the most iconic pop stars of the 2000s. By the end of the tour, I realized I had spent about two hours in the immersive experience, and I left feeling nostalgic for all the years I spent listening to Spears while growing up.
As far as creating more pop-ups like this one for other icons, Delson says that "anything's possible."
"We love experiences and obviously Britney was our first choice for this one," Delson said. "We just want to create places where people can interact with their favorite celebrities, brands, and musicians in a new way, and really feel like they're stepping into their world."
You can buy tickets for The Zone here.
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