An intergalactic space exhibition has landed again for another summer at Broadway at the Beach. “Encounters: UFO Experience,” off 29th Avenue in Myrtle Beach, near the Margararitaville restaurant, is open every day through Sept. 2.
Brian Bouquet, president and chief executive of The Event Agency in San Clemente, Calif., which oversaw the primary development and design of “Encounters,” said last week after his recent visit, that addition of seven more exhibits within the galleries were about complete, just in time for the summer tourist season.
Visitor feedback from last summer prompted bringing in extra interactive activities to engage children, Bouquet said, so parents would have more time to review and read about artifacts, replicas and summaries of people’s reports from their outer-worldly experiences.
Last Friday afternoon, the “Alien Hunter” laser tag-style shooting gallery and “Electromagnetic Propelled UFOs,” a propulsion exhibit where UFOs under glass are controlled by magnets with two hands at the helm to steer, were ready for visitors’ aim and balance.
“Kids have a much better time when they have something to do,” Bouquet said, noting the video game, with pop-up aliens awaiting target practice in one gallery, are “not loud enough to disturb parents reading” various UFO details on the walls and in the cases there.
A “Speak to Aliens” section will let youth who would want to send a message into the galaxies put together words in “alien speak,” Bouquet said.
Surveys from last summer also showed that 85 percent of people who came through “Encounters” had “no idea of what they’re going to get into,” Bouquet said.
“They might have been entering the abyss when coming into a UFO museum,” he said, welcoming everyone back for a new summer, with “Encounters” branded even “more as a museum exhibit.”
With more interactivity, “so it’s fun for the whole family,” Bouquet said, and the same local management team and crew returning for this summer, The Event Agency wants to continue building this exhibition site with the “good friends” who operate Broadway at the Beach.
Like ‘Bodies,’ a second year
He said this marks the company’s fourth year at Broadway, a relationship begun with “Bodies Revealed” – a “blockbuster exhibit” that has reached 60 U.S. markets since 2005 – in the same building in 2011-12, and that maybe, continuing this two-year pattern in Myrtle Beach, another special exhibit will be primed to move in for next summer.
UFOs, though, remain a “topic that never gets old,” Bouquet said, “and the search for extraterrestrial life and planets is ongoing,” so with space exploration in general revealing discoveries every few days of stars and places for possibilities for “habitable life,” people remain interested in outer space.
Leading a tour last week, Liberty Garcia, manager of “Encounters,” stopped by a big screen plugged into the Mutual UFO Network’s website, www.ufostalker.com. Maneuvering the mouse to localize Myrtle Beach on this global watch for insight into some details of the 68 sightings people have reported locally, Garcia said visitors “from all over the place,” such as vacationers, love to punch in their hometowns to see what observations have been tallied.
An hour might pass easily for guests who want to absorb the information loaded across these galleries. Garcia said reports come generally in three types, as spelled out on one wall panel: saucers or something spherical, a black triangle and entity encounters.
Garcia also pointed out a wall about “Area 51,” a base in Nevada – a state where she said she lived for 10 years, in Las Vegas – that has made news for decades from people wondering about UFO activity on site. The panel also brings up the JANET – “just another non-existent terminal” – planes.
Guests to the galleries also can peer into cases and get almost nose to nose with models of what are described as gray (also known as “Roswell grays”) and green (“little green men”) aliens.
Grays have large heads and eyes, but small nostrils and crevices for ears, and neither hair on the body nor eyes with a dilated pupil or iris. Conversely, the green aliens are portrayed with more human-like features as seen in hands, feet, mouth and nose.
Fans of the movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” a blockbuster movie from 1982, probably wouldn’t think twice about aligning the main character with the gray group.
One more feature just added to “Encounters” takes getting hands-on to a new level. Fans of the CBS drama “NCIS,” with its medical examiner, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, played by David McCallum, also might get a small feel of what he does on TV in his lab.
In the “Alien Autopsy” case, feel free to insert your hands into an alien doll’s abdomen area, and feel something squishy and slimy. This writer’s reach inside to feel the innards generated a laugh aloud, and an understanding of why youngsters might line up to get caught up in this interesting involvement of their hands, simply to experiment and try something odd, but harmless.
“It’s kind of a tribute to ‘grossology,’ ” Bouquet said.