Virtual Life Imitates Surreal Art

What began as a seemingly random collection of songs became a classic animated movie. Yellow Submarine was recently remastered and reissued on DVD and CD, and has now become the latest in a string of virtual-reality theme-park rides: Beatles fans visiting Berlin's Potsdamer Platz can travel through Pepperland at The Beatles' Yellow Submarine Adventure.

The ride, which opened to the public on January 20, is a key attraction of the Music Box, a new Sony entertainment center intended to celebrate music in all its forms. Other attractions include a melodic water fountain that can be played by visitors, and an interactive tour of music throughout the world. Most ambitious attraction: parkgoers can take to a podium and try conducting a virtual re-creation of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. According to Sony's Gerard Mandalka, "the idea is to mix fun with a bit of education."

Created through an agreement between Apple Corps., Sony Development of Burbank, California, and Sony Entertainment Berlin, visitors to the Music Box also get a chance to join Captain Fred and the Nowhere Man, and travel in a Yellow Submarine to battle the Blue Meanies, just as the characters did in the animated movie. Using "the most up-to-date" developments in digital engineering, Sony Development says it has created a family ride that takes a virtual-reality submarine "cab" into a three-dimensional Sea of Holes and beyond, as the Yellow Submarine experience comes to life.

"Diving into Pepperland, guests join a computerized Captain Fred, who acts as host and navigator, and does his best to keep passengers calm during the random adventures that arise during the journey, which has a set beginning and an end, but three possible middles," claims a press release for the new park. Among the characters encountered: Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band; Jeremy Hillary Boob (the Nowhere Man); the Blue Meanies, led by His Blueness, King Meanie; and henchman Max, the Apple Bonkers, the Vacuum Monster, and, of course, the dreaded Glove.