Fantasy Travel: Spies, Stars, and Outer Space

Through the roundabout way of Stephen Malkmus’s song “Jo Jo’s Jacket,” we discovered Michael Crichton’s first film, Westworld, made in 1973. The movie, set in the future, is built on the premise of fantasy travel. Guests choose the world of their choice, and they get to spend a week living in that world as though it were reality. It’s campy, and it’s awesome.

And how awesome would it be if this were a real possibility? To enter the worlds we can only witness in books and movies? What time or place would you want to experience? Paris in the ’20s, a la Midnight in Paris? The Golden Age in Greece? A space colony on Mars?

Sadly, though, fantasy travel is a largely untapped industry. I mean, yes, things did go terribly awry in West World, what with the android gunslinger played by Yul Brenner becoming self-aware and hunting tourists and all. And sure, we witnessed the same disastrous outcome in Jurassic Parks 1, 2, 3, and likely will again in 4. But, still. It would be so cool!

Let’s hope the tourism industry catches on. I for one would really like to be a member of a 1960s girl group, because, adorable!

In the meantime, here are a few opportunities you can sign up for now.

Covert Ops  If you’ve ever wanted to walk a mile in Jack Bauer’s shoes, this will get you pretty close. Four days with instructor Garret Machine (yes, that’s his name) will transform you into a member of an Israeli counter-terrorist unit. You’ll learn how to use an assault rifle, anti-ambush drills, firing from a moving vehicle, and, my personal favorite, a proven method of kidnapping used by terrorists.

Broadway Fantasy Camp  If anyone’s ever asked you to please stop humming show tunes, then go where you can bust out into jazz hands without shame. The five-day session at Broadway Fantasy Camp puts you through an audition, rehearsals in the studios used for actual Broadway shows, an opening-night performance of a musical revue, and a cast party at Sardi’s, a Broadway institution, all with real Broadway stars.

Dorothy Hamill Figure Skating Fantasy Camp  Did you grow up idolizing Dorothy Hamill? Does the quote “Toe pick!” still send you into a fit of giggles? Then dust off your skates. A week of mornings on the ice, afternoon seminars, and evenings with Dorothy and friends culminates in a public figure-skating performance. Sequins not included.

Space Camp for Adults  Yeah, you could pay a bajillion dollars to ride on Richard Branson’s rocket. Or you could just go to space camp and pretend you’re in space. Weekend space missions let grown-ups try out the astronaut simulators. The 1/6th-gravity chair lets you experience what it’s like to walk on the moon. The multi-axis trainer simulates the disorientation astronauts feel in space. You even get to wear a jump suit. And maybe you’ll get lucky and accidentally get launched into space:

These experiences all seem pretty cool, but fantasy travel could be so much more… real. Like in the movies! The ability to submerge yourself in a completely different time or place, real or imagined–that would really be something.