Since its grand opening in September, Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove has been luring in guests with the offer of adventure, mystery and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of magic.
Unlike any other theme park currently running in the world, Evermore Park, under the direction of founder Ken Bretschneider, offers guests a complete immersive reality experience nestled just off the interstate in Pleasant Grove. Rather than just passive participants, guests are invited to delve truly into the story, playing an active role in the adventure they take away.
With the change in seasons comes a change in emphasis at Evermore, and the park’s focus has shifted from a haunted experience called Lore to a more lighthearted, magical one: Aurora. If you’re considering taking a step into the unknown with a visit to the park, here are a few things worth knowing.
-- Kari Kenner, Daily Herald
Aurora is a continuation of the story from Lore
During Evermore’s Lore, “World Walkers,” the term for outside visitors entering the experience, learned about an illness called “the darkness” spreading throughout the land. After a mysterious portal opened bringing new faces both good and evil to the land, it was up to the “World Walkers” to help uncover quests and explore the realm for themselves, ultimately investigating the darkness and helping find a cure.
According to the character of Wikam, known as Evermore’s resident “tinkerer,” a valiant group effort helped the dark portal to close, and with the evil purged, another seemingly benevolent portal has opened, this time bringing with it the people of Aurora.
According to the Evermore website, here’s what guests can expect:
“Evermore is blanketed in the peaceful calm of Winter. A portal has been opened to the magical world of AURORA, filling Evermore with holiday cheer. Take in the festive sights, and colorful lights which adorn the Victorian-era buildings and pine trees. Holiday adventure awaits around every corner. While joyful tones of carolers warm the soul, hot cocoa warms the belly. The inviting smells of Wintertide fill the air. A horse drawn carriage and the village ice skating rink provide the perfect backdrop for priceless seasonal memories with your loved ones.”
Expect many of the same characters, with new faces too
If you visited Evermore during Lore, when you return for Aurora you may find yourself in the company of some familiar faces. As Evermore is a realm unto itself, many of the residents of the city remained after the haunted darkness of Lore left. Though some characters moved on when the portal closed, those that stayed will happily tell you about the experiences they had, making for a really unique bridge between the worlds of Lore and Aurora.
A portal into a new realm wouldn’t really be a portal if it didn’t bring with it new faces and experiences, though, so plan on meeting new cast members and diving into a whole new opportunity to adventure.
Evermore is evolving, just like the story
In visiting with Josh Steadman, director of show design at Evermore, about Aurora, some really unique attributes of Evermore were discussed, including the fact that the park isn’t just about the theatrical immersion.
“We’ve got actors, but actors aren’t the reason why there’s an immersive experience,” Steadman explained. “The whole park provides the immersion. It’s everything – everything has got to tie and work like cogs in a wheel. The costumes tell a story, the sets tell a story, the actors participate in what we’re creating. It’s all of it – it’s not one piece.”
Steadman explained the process of going from buildings on a map to actual places that have a history of sorts, creating a depth and details for the stories to come to life. In taking the buildings from just a façade to having a story of their own, that’s where the magic can begin.
New season, new features
During Lore at Evermore, young guests found themselves in a unique trick-or-treating style experience while older guests worked to unravel mysteries, take allegiances and ultimately uncover and stop the source of the darkness. It was haunted with plenty of chances for thrills and chills, while still giving visitors a chance to have fun as they explored giant pumpkin caverns, tried their hand at archery and dove in to the stories that awaited.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, brightness and levity have taken away the heavy cloak of darkness at Evermore and it’s as if a burden has been lifted from the whole venue. Trees are adorned with glistening lights, an ice skating rink draws dozens into the heart of town and a jollier and more cheerful feel is ushering in the season of light.
According to Steadman, it’s a unique chance to celebrate the holidays outside of the norm.
“We’ve got some Dickensian stuff right now, but mostly it’s a Christmas party,” he said. “Come here, celebrate Christmas. … We’re trying to do something different and I know we’re doing it, so come celebrate it with us. The difference is great.”
The feel of the venue isn’t the only change
Everything in Evermore reflects the shift from Lore to Aurora, from the characters to the costuming, the decorations to the story, the lighting to the music and even the concessions. Rather than the Halloween-style treats, sweets and candied apples, you can now sink your teeth into delicious meat pies and soup in a bread bowl, or warm yourself from the inside out with tasty hot cocoa and spiced cider.
Characters are adorned in more festive attire and the glistening lights cast a sharp contrast to the eerie darkness of Lore.
There are two ways to experience Aurora
Though the magical world of Aurora is available each Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday evening from 4:30-9:30 p.m., there are plenty of adventures also available during Evermore’s Wonderland Walk. At this point, according to the Evermore website the Wonderland Walk is available Dec. 15, 21-22, 29 and Jan. 1, and runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., providing the chance to visit the park during the daylight hours. Though you should double check the website before scheduling a trip, features for the Walk include animal experiences, games, ice skating, photo ops and the chance to view the details of Evermore in the day, with tickets priced at just $10 for children 6-12 and $15 for adults 13 and up (free for children under six when accompanied by a ticketed adult).
Standard ticketing for The World of Aurora is $14 for children and $20 for adults, or $20 and $26 respectively to include ice skating. For more details, visit evermorepark.com.