Imagining Dragons, Walmart Makes VR Viewers 'Verklempt'

Dragon love stories are hard to resist, and Walmart is out to make this one even more memorable, launching a virtual-reality experience tied to the upcoming release of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Working with DreamWorks Animation and opening at select Walmart parking lots around the country, the experience invites fans into the hidden wonders of this newly discovered world. (And in case you’ve missed the hype, this is the movie where Toothless, Hiccup’s dragon, finally gets a girlfriend.)

Developed by Store No. 8, Walmart’s digital innovation shop, it claims to be “a first-of-its-kind immersive V-commerce activation,” powered by HP, Intel and Positron. The idea is that fans can develop what feels like a personal relationship with the film’s lovable characters, then buy branded merchandise in the immersive gift shop, created by Spatial&, a V-commerce startup.



The journey, geared for kids 8 and older, starts with twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut greeting guests, who are then led to a dragon’s lair, suited up in headsets and seated in motion VR chairs for a five-minute jaunt through the Hidden World.

Next, they’re steered into a gift shop, where they can buy memorabilia ranging from plush toys to video games. The VR experience “is a great opportunity for our customers to engage with this fantastic franchise,” says Scott McCall, Walmart’s senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal, in its announcement. “It’s also the most recent example of how Walmart continues to use emerging technologies, including virtual reality, to enhance the experiences of shoppers across the country.”

The virtual tour is scheduled to appear in 16 different Walmart locations through mid-April. Including stores in California, Nevada, Texas and Arkansas.

The third and final installment in the “How to Train” trilogy, set to open in the U.S. Feb. 22, is said to be so good that Variety is already speculating it may have a chance at Oscar Gold, calling it DreamWorks Animation’s “crowning achievement.”

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