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REM5 Virtual Reality Lab

REM5 Virtual Reality Lab
St. Louis Park, MN

Raise your hand if the ideal night of 1980s slumber parties was a big bowl of ice cream, a little Whitney Houston cassette tape dance party and a late night game of Duck Hunt on the NES? Please tell me I’m not the only one who lived for sleepovers like this…

Duck Hunt was epic – you pointed your hunting rifle at the screen and somehow, some way, it magically knew whether you were pointing at the duck or not. How? The miracle of 1984 light sensors (and seriously, if you want to read all about this like I did, Thrillist has a great article here).

So you can imagine, as a child of the 80s, stepping into a place like REM5 Virtual Reality Lab in St. Louis Park and having my mind completely melt out of my ear holes. From the second I stepped inside, I felt like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future – but WAY into the future! I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t even really know what virtual reality was but my preteen was geeking out about so much that I had to get a taste of it (“kids these days…”).

This was – by far – the most amusing and amazing 90 minutes I have spent in front of a screen since my introduction to Duck Hunt (and maybe the first time I watched Troop Beverly Hills). I can not even begin to tell you how much fun I had and how much I just wanted to take all my kids’ turns and play by myself all day. Yup, you look like a big dork and the time goes by way too fast, but it put the original Nintendo days to shame. If you like fun – at ANY age – I highly recommend an outing to REM5.

Plus, there’s no annoying dog making fun of you if you miss a shot. That dog was a punk.

TAKE A VIDEO TOUR OF THE FACILITY:

What is it?

REM5 Virtual Reality Lab opened in 2017 in St. Louis Park, MN, and provides a premium virtual reality experience for all ages in the form of open play, business events, special celebrations and more. The locally-owned company puts a strong emphasis on breaking down accessibility barriers and building up training and education opportunities – all a very cool way to use this incredible technology.

At the facility, you can make your social experience what you want it to be – choosing your own games and the number of people you’d like to play per POD (they charge by POD, not person). To define “POD,” it is a small space separated by two walls and contains the headset, hook-up, TV set and seating + table. While the overall facility is not huge, they sure do fit a lot of POD space in here, but you will need to book ahead of time to make sure it is reserved for you.

REM5 offers a yummy menu of house-made appetizers and flatbread pizzas plus fun sodas, wines and some of our favorite local craft beers. And can I take a minute to talk about the service? Every worker that came to assist us (switching games, switching players, etc) was phenom with my kids, kind to us adults, and speedy (because every minute counts).

The headsets and games were SO fun and definitely suited all the ages and interests of our party. Our daughter did VR art, our sons shot space pirates, and I enjoyed an underwater walk through the deep blue sea (which was relaxing until a blue whale almost took me out with his massive tail). There is sufficient room in each POD to move around and – if you’re the type who gets easily embarrassed – the walls will prevent anyone next to you from seeing you duck and dodge like an epic dork.

Fit for what ages?

I am very serious when I say that REM5 is for ANYbody (over the age of, say, 4 or 5). As my kindergartener was dominating Fruit Ninja, all I could picture was how much my 65-year old dad or my 12-year old son’s friends or my college buddies or my co-workers would absolutely LOVE doing the exact same thing. You don’t need to be a “gamer.” You certainly don’t need to be in any sort of fit physical shape. You just need to be open to having a hell of a good time with some amazing technology and other awesome people.

Our 5-year old is a bit of a gamer and he thought it was the greatest day of his life (I smell a birthday party coming on). According to this video, “it was easy” (eyeroll):

Our POD helper was Ben. He was wonderful and great with our kids. Everyone should be a Ben.

How much are we talkin’?

Pricing is based on the number of PODs you rent and for how long – NOT on how many people or how many experiences you try. Each POD does contain only one headset so only one person can play at a time, so REM5 recommends groups of 2-5 people per POD. I tend to agree with the reco. We had 5 people and I wish we had left a kid or two at home so I could play more (Selfish, yes. True, also yes…and I’m sort of kidding. Sort of).

Pricing per POD

30 minutes: $40
60 minutes: $60
1.5 hours: $85
2 hours: $110

You can add additional 30 minutes for $25.

Packages and Specials

They DO offer packages though, which I highly recommend. We did the Family Package because we knew our kids would be begging for food and more time anyway, so may as well save 20% off the “would-have-been” price, right? The Family Package included one POD for 90 minutes + two shareables or pizzas + 4 sodas. Additional packages can be found on their website.

Other special events and happy hour specials are also available (including “Special ROBLOX Saturdays). Updated tickets and event options are online here. Birthday parties are a great option and those do charge per kid (ranging from $30-50/kid with a minimum of 3 children per party). Interested in a party? Get more info here. Yet another option would be big group outings (think sports teams, girl scouts, field trips) and that info can be found here.

This is me walking through the deep blue sea. I did NOT see that big blue whale coming and it looked like he was right in front of my face. Seriously surreal.

Want some tips?

First things first: Booking your reservation.
It’s important to know that REM5 VR Lab is only open to the public Thursday through Sunday and they can book up fast so making a reservation is necessary. Good news is, it’s also easy. From their website homepage, it clearly asks you to BOOK NOW. Do that. Duh. Make your selections (and if anything is greyed out or unavailable, it’s because that time/date/etc is already taken). If you want to buy a package, select the time in the reservation form and mention the package when you arrive. You will be charged the additional amount and upgraded to that package on-site.

Then: Fill out your waiver:
You can also beat ’em to the punch and fill out your waiver online. Yes, you need a waiver and can do it super fast at the check-in desk or get it over with online before you get there.

Other tips:
Arrive on time. You don’t want to lose any of your reservation time due to tardiness. And you’ll hear a short schpeel on the how-tos and safety instructions from your POD staffer which takes a minute. Most importantly, there are red lines you will see in your goggles when you are getting too close to one of the walls. Because no one wants to run headfirst into a wall, am I right?

After experiencing a POD with 5 people, if you have a larger group (3 or more) definitely consider signing up for a longer time than shorter. I know it’s more money, but if you’re already doing it, make it count! TIME FLIES!! Apparently it’s a lot of fun, because the minutes zoom by when you’re in your POD. Not sure how 90 minutes went by so fast for us, but they really did.

There are bathrooms in the front near the check-in desk and are themed and cute. And there are changing tables.

Prepare the kiddos that they will need to wait their turn while others are playing. We set a time limit for each kid’s turn (we did 5 minute increments, but in hindsight, would’ve done more because you’re just getting in a groove at the 5 minute mark). The good news is, there is tons for the other players to do while waiting – we sat near the back and I schooled the kids in Super Mario Bros 3 (cuz I’m a child of the 80s and I rule). They have multiple gaming systems set up throughout the facility including in the waiting area up front so our kids were always entertained.

Oh, and they also have hand sanitizer on every table, which is fantastic.

Larger groups are placed in an area called The Quad, so they have their own space and will not interfere with your own personal family fun.

Staff walks around and are very attentive to your needs – they take your food and drink orders, bring your selections to your POD, answer all your questions, switch your games over quickly and help with headset setup if anyone struggles. And they know the importance of a minute, so they are speedy.

Ask to see the game list before your time starts. We didn’t really know what we were getting in to or what the options were, but still had a blast with what we chose. Just wish we had known more beforehand. Games alternate – they aren’t always the same options, I believe.

Consider saving some money buy purchasing a package or looking at one of their many upcoming events or deals via their website or social media pages.

And speaking of money, if you need a gift idea for someone (like my sons) in your life, REM5 Gift Cards are a definite win, and you can order them online here from the comfort of your own Christmas slippers.

Hours and location

4950 W. 35th Street | St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Google Map

Hours of Operation:
REM5 is open to the public Thursday 3-8pm, Friday 3-10pm, Saturday 12-8pm and Sunday 12-5pm. (Exceptions are larger parties or events.)

The lab is located just off Hwy 7 and Hwy 100 in St. Louis Park. There’s plenty of free parking in their lot and it’s right next to Steel Toe Brewing in case you need a drink after all the fun.

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