1. IMMERSITRON VIRTUAL REALITY UNIT — The unit lets up to 120 participants per hour engage in virtual sports or fantasy battles using green screen technology. Because there are no headsets, guests don't have to worry about mussing up their hair or makeup.
    Interactive Entertainment Concepts www.interactiveparty.com

  2. COOL PIX PHOTO STATIONS — For a series of private in-store events, Vogue and Guess used a photo station to superimpose guests' images on Vogue covers, which the guests could then take home as keepsakes. Vogue director of fashion and retail merchandising Annie Rinella says that the photo activity wasn't just a lot of fun, it also helped Vogue to “extend its brand beyond just the two-hour event. It keeps the partnership with Guess in the guests' minds beyond that one moment.”
    Interactive Entertainment Concepts www.interactiveparty.com

  3. MOBILE IMAX THEATER — This unit gives participants a three-story screen effect and “in the action” feeling through individual head-mounted displays. For one event for a concrete company, guests drove virtual race cars with the company's logo and colors by moving their heads. Although the client “didn't have a million dollars to sponsor the next NASCAR race,” says Scott Jochim, creative director, Digital Tech Frontiers, it still got “a personal experience that was branded properly, visually and aurally, so it was experiential.” The event's guests, “gentlemen and ladies who know the best of the best,” Jochim says, were able to “experience something really cool that they'd never seen before.”
    Digital Tech Frontiers, www.dtf.net

  4. TEAM CIRCUS — Low-tech does not have to mean low entertainment value. Take the Team Circus program by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Michael Bongar Entertainment, where attendees learn and perform big-top circus routines. Terry Vogel of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Enchanted Parties/Event Pros Group recently created a company event for Time Warner Inc. with the help of Bongar, an entertainment industry veteran and former Ringling Bros. Clown College student. Before the event, Bongar's music crew traveled to various Time Warner offices, encouraging employees to join a square-dance act. These “pre-hype” events helped to build anticipation for the big bash.

    Bongar uses the Time Warner event as an example of the benefit of interactive entertainment. “It's entertainment that contains an element of human connection … in this age of disconnection, talking to each other over the phone, e-mails, Blackberries, and video games.”
    Michael Bongar Entertainment www.michaelbongar.com

  5. PARTY HATS — San Diego-based Party Hats Entertainment's hat-making program inspires creativity and “gives people an opportunity to play on an equal playing field,” says co-owner Fiona Markowitz. Client Sheri Pizitz, of Dallas-based Events Unlimited, used the hats for a spring event she produced. Markowitz and crew brought pre-formed hats and decorating materials to the undersea-themed after-party, which was held after six separate dinners for different attendee groups. Their colorful station was just inside the entrance to the event space, so guests from varying ranks within the corporate group who might not have had much in common got a chance to mingle and make wearable conversation pieces. “It was a great icebreaker,” Pizitz says. “The client loved it.”
    Party Hats Entertainment www.partyhats.org

  6. CELEBRITY LOOK-ALIKES — Good interactive entertainment often means getting the right performers for the job. That's why Berkeley, Calif.-based Cast of Thousands holds training workshops “to get people in the theater world to understand the difference between theater work and event work. They have to make the transition,” says Jan Kearney, West Coast president. Not all actors can serve as the interactive costumed characters — everyone from President George W. Bush to TV's Crocodile Hunter — that Cast of Thousands is known for providing, she explains. “Some people can be brilliant on stage … but when you take that person and put them out on a floor, face to face with guests, they can be lost without direction.”
    Cast of Thousands www.castof1000s.com