Jennifer J. Lacelle
Nov 20, 2022
To say the Netflix television series Bridgerton was a success is an understatement of the year. It is even plausible to go so far and say the show was Netflix’s ‘diamond of the season.’ The television series is based on Julia Quin’s novels. Each book follows one of the Bridgerton children, of whom there are eight.
In case you missed it, the stories are based between 1813-1827. It is one of the more romanticised eras in human history with classy ballgowns, rich soirees, handsome men, and even finer young women (all with mama’s who are desperately trying to marry them off). Envision a lighter, more expensive version of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (set in 1795-1810).
So, what is the Bridgerton Experience? Let us say some creative artists banded together and took the book and television show and made it a travelling, interactive experience for fans.
The Queen at the Bridgerton Experience. All Photos by or provided by Jennifer J. Lacelle
A Little History
· Debutantes were presented to the royal family for nearly 180 years. The daughters of rich or connected families would make their formal entrance into society. Typically, these were girls between the ages of 16-18.
· Girls would need to complete finishing school before being presented.
· Several new dresses were required as each event required a different outfit. These outfits could be thousands of dollars and some even include crowns.
· The U.S. also held debutante presentations (before and after their independence from Britain) in Washington D.C.
· The final debutante in Britain was in 1958.
The show travelled several major cities before landing in Toronto for a couple months over autumn of 2022. Tickets were reasonably priced with two options: regular and VIP. The cost of parking was additional.
Of course, in preparation for the Experience several items were needed: fancy dress, comfortable but pretty shoes, hair, make up, and crown or tiara. Don’t forget gloves if you wanted to be the perfect lady.
There were some difficulties finding the space as the signage (especially at night) was not the most legible or easily found. Personally, I had to call someone I knew had already gone to the show to confirm directions.
It was held at the Toronto Netflix filming studios, which in hindsight, is smart of them to make it difficult for just anyone to find. Why? Well, actors (particularly famous ones), producers, film crew and others must feel safe going into work everyday.
There were two entrances based on ticket level. As a VIP, the guest is given two wristbands and then brought to the queue. These people are then permitted inside the studio entrance and dance floor early.
Inside the main entrance was a case with the outfits of the leads in the show, a place to purchase gloves, crowns and other accessories, a bar, and a place for photos.
The entrance to the show space was beautiful: darkened and lit only by small lamps and string lights hiding in wisteria leaves high above. Then one would reach a tunnel filled with white and purple bulbs hidden within the strands of wisteria leaves surrounding you.
Beyond that is the dancefloor which was delicate perfection. Some actors roamed during this quiet time and interacted with various guests. At this point, all guests were entering the space. Once the studio was filled with people, VIP went to their seating section but it didn’t last for long as everyone surged the dancefloor to participate and watch.
The highlight was probably the live music. They too wore the wigs of the era and performed by the front where the Queen’s throne was located. But their performance was delightful: modern music retold in classical, exciting charm. They never missed a beat and one eventually joined the dancefloor on the pedestal. Sheer perfection.
There were two primary dancers and they worked well together; the chemistry and ability matched evenly. They used long fabric that hung from ceiling to floor for some pieces, they danced while hanging from the chandelier, and had a pedestal moved to the center of the stage to use. They were delightful to watch.
Of course, the Queen was narrating the story as it moved along smoothly. There were pauses between dances as well. Once was to allow the guests to curtsey before the Queen. It was interesting how they worked it as the VIP had their own lines and they would send a VIP then a non-VIP and back to VIP.
The story flowed quickly after that with sporadic moments of shuffling off the dance floor to being ushered back onto the space.
The atmosphere overall was light, quirky, and fun. While this dearest guest had gone alone two groups of ladies “adopted” me and made sure I had photos, fun and dance opportunities.
However, I would almost suggest that fewer tickets be sold per show as the space was extremely crowded and people were tripping over one another.
After the show, the music changed to modern club hits while the Regency Room was opened. Inside were several areas designated for photoshoots. The staff would take your photo so you could pose properly. It was beautiful and it took nearly an hour to do them all.
Of course, there was more merchandise available for purchase and a larger bar.
If I had known the VIP tickets would not give me much, I would have likely stuck with the regular ticket and saved my $20-30. The only thing that VIPs got were early admittance to the entrance way/dance floor, one glass of wine and 20% off merchandise.
Allow me to explain my displeasure:
1. There were no special VIP interactions with actors.
2. The VIP seating area was near empty because the dance floor was so crowded that moving to the seated section during the actual show would mean being ousted to the back of the crowd when guests were invited back on (since no one went back to where they were supposed to sit or stand, partially I believe because it was so crowded there was not space to).
3. Everyone was given access to the Regency Room at the same time, instead of early admittance for VIPs.
4. There were no VIP lines for photoshoots.
The above might sound a little snobbish, but if someone pays extra for a VIP experience and are treated as if they’re not VIP it’s a little strange.
Overall, the Experience was awesome and I would do it again. However, I would not waste my money on VIP unless they change the protocols in the future.