Meow Wolf Opens its Grapevine Location This Friday; Here’s What to Expect

by Jessica Fuentes July 13, 2023
A photograph of the exterior of Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal" in Grapevine.

Meow Wolf’s “The Real Unreal” in Grapevine

The arts entertainment company Meow Wolf is set to open its Grapevine location, The Real Unreal, to the public this Friday, July 14. This week, prior to the grand opening, the space has been open for invitation-only preview days. Among the invitees were community partners, artists, friends and family of artists who contributed to the site, members of the press, and others. If you are planning to experience the space, here’s a recap of what to expect.

A photograph of a greeter at the entrance of Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal."

Meow Wolf , “The Real Unreal” greeter.

A photograph of a house that is part of the Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal" space.

Meow Wolf , “The Real Unreal” house

Like the Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver portals, as Meow Wolf calls them, The Real Unreal at the Grapevine Mills Mall has a thoroughly developed narrative and is laid out like a mystery to be solved. Similar to the original location in Santa Fe, when visitors enter the space they find a full-size two-story home. Walking inside, it is clear from the start that things are a bit amiss. Throughout the home are “Missing” signs for Jared Fugua, a young boy who “disappeared.” Clues, like videos, letters, diary entries, and small plant-like paintings on the walls with a phone number (and hashtag to text it), can be found throughout the home. 

A photograph of a table top filled with MISSING signs as part of Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal."

Meow Wolf, “The Real Unreal” MISSING signs.

While some visitors go straight to the narrative, others are drawn into the secret passageways of the house, which take them into the Unreal side of the world that has been created. Visitors can take a slide through a washing machine, open a refrigerator door and walk through a passage into a circular space with more refrigerator doors, and enter a closet and exit into another world. 

A photograph inside Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal." The room is filled with doorways that look like refrigerator doors.

Meow Wolf , “The Real Unreal” refrigerator room.

Regardless of if you choose to search for Jared or to simply explore the space, expect to spend upwards of an hour at Meow Wolf. The various rooms and hidden gems seem endless, and each room and every object is a work of art. From the crafted photographs and writings that fill the house to the murals and intricately designed themed rooms in the Unreal, over 40 North Texas artists and more than 30 in-house Meow Wolf artists created the elements that bring the space to life. 

A room covered in large-scale portraits painted in a flat graphic style by Desireé Vaniecia.

Meow Wolf , “The Real Unreal” murals by Desireé Vaniecia.

Glasstire spoke with a handful of people who attended the preview days, and here are some of their reflections on the experience:

Isaura Lopez-Sanchez, a Bilingual Distance Learning Teacher at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, remarked, “Meow Wolf was an exciting interactive experience. I had no idea of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at all the exhibits and curiosities one can find. Definitely a must to wear comfy clothes and shoes!”

Mónica Hernández, a North Texas classroom teacher, described the experience this way: “Meow Wolf transported us through unexpected portals into the minds of each artist. It challenges all your senses in the best way.”

A photograph of a crowd of people playing video games in an arcade room.

Meow Wolf , “The Real Unreal” arcade room.

James Padrón, a local electrician who has done work at the Grapevine Mills Mall, remarked, “From my point of view, [Meow Wolf] is a lighting person’s dream and nightmare. I would love to see what went into the design of it all. I did notice lots of control boxes in the cut outs that weren’t covered yet and it had me curious.”

A photograph of a fantastical room within Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal."

Meow Wolf ‘s “The Real Unreal.”

Jessica Thompson-Castillo, a nonprofit arts consultant, stated, “I was really impressed with Meow Wolf Grapevine. I went to the one in Santa Fe and loved it, but thought that Grapevine would be smaller or fractional in some way. Not true — It’s incredibly dense with so, so much to look at, and [it was] so exciting to see art from local artists I recognized. It’s easy to be cynical about Meow Wolf, having gone to a couple of disappointing selfie museums myself, but art literally transforms every nook and cranny of the space, which makes it a unique experience. I can’t wait to go back, personally!”

A photograph of Austin Ivy at Meow Wolf "The Real Unreal."

Austin Ivy at Meow Wolf’s “The Real Unreal”

Austin Ivy, a computer engineering student at Rose State College who runs the YouTube channel Third Eye Psychology, spent nearly two full days at The Real Unreal — one day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a second day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. He noted, “My two favorite things about Meow wolf is the narrative element, and also the community aspect. There’s a ton of really awesome and diverse people (LGBTQ+) that I would never really have a chance to interact with. I spent a long time in the military, so it’s really nice to have a safe space to reintegrate into society while learning about other people.”

He continued, “Walking in, my only goal was to get some cool footage. It’s funny how fast that changed. I was not really planning on talking to people or making friends, but as we all know, plans are the first thing that goes flying out the window. My experience at The Real Unreal was incredible. I cannot talk highly enough about the exhibit, or the team that put it all together.”

Click here to watch a video Mr. Ivy made about Meow Wolf. (Please note, it does contain spoilers related to The Real Unreal’s story.)

A photograph of an interior space designed to resemble a forest lit by black lights.

Meow Wolf ,”The Real Unreal” black light forest

While many will find The Real Unreal to be exciting and enjoyable, others may get overwhelmed with the space. The lights, sounds, and crowds of people will make the experience less enjoyable for some. 

Anne Lenhart, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Meadows Museum, admitted that she hadn’t done her research on what to expect from Meow Wolf. She described the experience as “Chaos. Like Alice in Wonderland staged in 2023 — an unending rabbit hole where I hadn’t eaten the right cake.”

Ms. Lenhart went on to explain, “The museum professional in me was absolutely floored by the construction quality of the elements in the space and the amazing levels of creativity. There were tools in the garden shed that were actual branches that merged into a normal shovel handle. I kept touching them to confirm they were actually wood (and they were!)… but I was overly distracted by visual and audible cacophony — the jarring impact was amplified by the crowds of visitors. If I plugged my ears and tuned everything out, I could look closely at the really magical little bits of art that were everywhere, but inevitably someone would bump into me, and I was jolted back into an environment that felt confusing and chaotic. I left with a pounding headache, feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic.”

Ms. Lenhart advised that people who have issues with sensory overload or anxiety in large crowds should look into purchasing tickets at unpopular timeslots. There are also pockets of quiet spaces where people can get away from the crowds, but these can be hard to locate. Meow Wolf encourages visitors who need a moment in a space like this to speak with one of their representatives.

A photograph of a darkened room with a projected sunset.

A calm room inside Meow Wolf ‘s”The Real Unreal.”

Ms. Lenhart also spoke of another issue that some may find with the space. If you come looking to dive into the story but don’t know how and where to start, the whole experience can quickly feel overwhelming. She explained, “In addition to my general anxiety, I left feeling really angry. I try to leave art exhibitions with an understanding of what the artist intended, regardless of my personal opinion of the work. This experience made me feel like I was back in high school: a chubby gay kid in rural Oklahoma who wasn’t allowed to ‘get’ the inside joke.”

Glasstire’s Assistant Editor, William Sarradet, who recently visited Meow Wolf Santa Fe, noted, “It is interesting to see the lessons that the organization has learned from their success. The two venues are quite similar in themes and function, with the addition of larger walkways and improved visitor mobility for the Grapevine location. My remaining curiosity is how Meow Wolf will either future-proof their installs for durability, or how the organization will use their spaces as living exhibitions which change over time.”

Meow Wolf Grapevine, The Real Unreal, opens this Friday, July 14. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit the Meow Wolf website.

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