ABBA Voyage: Gimme Gimme Gimme more!
We’re starting to see the rise of virtual reality, it’s becoming an expected element to leisure experiences and events but the ABBA Voyage tour is the first of its kind technology wise, it’s a virtual hologram concert in a purpose-built arena just outside London’s Olympic Park. As it currently stands, ABBA Voyage has a residency in London until May 2023.
I’ve always been a fan of ABBA, so when I heard about ABBA Voyage I snapped up some tickets in the pre-sale because I absolutely had to be there! In the build up to the event I managed to avoid any spoilers or articles, so I went into it not knowing what to expect.
The website promises you’ll ‘Experience a concert like no other’…
Buying tickets and Pre event comms
We purchased our tickets through Ticketmaster, we purchased dancefloor tickets to live out our best ‘Dancing Queen’ experience! Everything was simple, however we did pay additional to receive souvenir paper copies of the tickets, but we haven’t received these yet and after chasing I haven’t heard back from Ticketmaster!
We received several pre-event emails both from Ticketmaster and Abba Voyage directly which were great to keep us informed and up to date. However, none of these felt particularly exciting in tone of voice and I feel they missed a great opportunity here, you’re going to a ground-breaking, exciting event there’s a chance to send out some great pre-arrival emails to get you in the mood.
We arrived off the DLR and the arena was directly opposite, so it was really easy to get there. However outside was lacking a bit of buzz, the arena is in an industrial area in Olympic Park so there’s not much going on. I felt there could have been music playing, signage or some photo opportunities dotted around. Lots of people were having photos in front of the arena so there was an appetite for photo opportunities.
We had our tickets checked, they were QR codes so very easy, we were given wristbands for the dancefloor, and we were in!
The ABBA arena concourse area was spacious, everything was really organised and well signposted. Everyone was stood around chatting, drinking or eating and the atmosphere was great -there was a real buzz in there and it felt quite classy (not tacky like I’d expected).
The doors to the actual arena were shut for now, so it was clear that this was where we were going to spend time before the show!
We’d eaten before the show because we didn’t have high expectation of what the food would be like, purely because of experiences of F&B at other gigs/experiences. But to be honest, I wish we hadn’t! They had a great selection of food, and from what I saw it looked high quality, I also noticed there were plenty of vegetarian options which isn’t always expected.
There were several bars; a prosecco bar and two bars in the concourse area, then two more bars to access once you were inside the venue. I was surprised by the selection on offer in the bars, normally you expect little plastic bottles of wine, cans of gin and tonic or beers but it was a fully stocked bar. They even had a cocktail menu! Albeit they were premixed, but it was nice to have that extra choice. They could have gone a little further and named some cocktails after ABBA songs.
Everything was served in the right glass too; it’s not often you bump into someone on the dancefloor of a gig with a pornstar martini in the right glass – but at Abba Voyage you do! I thought that was a nice touch, they were hard plastic too so no safety issues.
With being in London and having a captive audience I was also expecting to pay ridiculous prices, however they were no shocks there which was also a nice surprise!
There was a click and collect option for drinks which we were informed about via email before the night, however when we looked into it there were several different collection points to choose from and not having prior knowledge of the arena and where the collection points would be, we decided not to try this out. However, when we got there, we realised could have used any of the collection points as they next to each bar in the concourse so this could have been a little clearer.
Once the doors to the arena opened, you walked through a lit up, colour changing walk way to get there, this really built up the excitement as it really separated the arena from the concourse area. Once you were in the arena there was no ABBA music, just low level suspense background music. Without too many spoilers… The show was fantastic, the technology was incredible and quite breath taking really. At certain times it did slip your mind that it wasn’t actually real people on the stage, especially after a few gin and tonics!!
After the show
The concourse area was open for an hour after to show for you to have a drink, take in the show and do some shopping! We got chatting to a few people there and everyone was in awe of what a great experience we’d all just had.
There were a couple of merchandise shops around the concourse, all were fully stocked and had everything on display. The queues went really quick and the staff were really helpful. These stayed open after the show so you didn’t need to worry about carrying everything with you.
There was a lot of staff within the arena, it always felt like there was someone there to help if you needed it. The staff were extremely friendly and welcoming, everyone greeted and acknowledged you as you walked past. They felt happy to be there and like they genuinely excited for you and the experience you were about to have.
‘When all is said and done’ ABBA Voyage was great, it was absolutely a concert like no other as promised by the website! I’d recommend it to anyone, whether you’re an ABBA fan or not.
…But it did feel like such an amazing experience could have had a better build up with more anticipation around it. It would have been great to receive some livelier emails, videos or photo content, even something interactive like a ABBA spotify playlist to really get you in the mood.
There also could have been more photo opportunities and theming throughout, we saw so many people taking photos, there were people dressed up, everyone was really into it, so some kind of photo booths or walls to stand in front of would have really enabled people to take great photos!