When people ask me how San Diego Comic-Con was this year, I keep finding myself telling them about one offsite in particular: the Taco Bell pop-up celebrating 25 years of Demolition Man. It’s the kind of thing that could really only happen at San Diego Comic-Con, and that’s a lot of the magic.
Earlier this year, Taco Bell called Warner Bros. to pitch them an idea. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1993 cult film Demolition Man, in which Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes are re-awakened in 2032 San Angeles. It’s a world where cursing gets you a morality violation fine, crime is all but eradicated, and Taco Bell has won the “Franchise Wars”, where all restaurants are now Taco Bell.
So, in a stroke of genius, Taco Bell decided to get in on the action and re-create the futuristic, upscale Taco Bell of the film for attendees at Comic-Con. Open nightly Thursday-Saturday from 6PM-midnight, attendees could stop by (or, more accurately, line-up hours in advance – but it was worth it) to head inside for a peek at the 2032 Taco Bell.
There, you were greeted by well-dressed hosts, cocktails, and robots offering nacho cheese fries of the future. Until your table was ready, you were free to wander – and there was plenty to see, including Wesley Snipes costume from Demolition Man, a piano player who offered up both popular jingles (you’re not expecting to hear the Folger’s theme song while dining in a swanky Taco Bell, but you’re also definitely not mad about it) and popular classics, and lots of fun signs and nods to the film.
Even for those who hadn’t seen the film, though, the ambiance was hard to beat. Everything was so well-themed and in character, and with lots of fun little hidden things around every corner (did you get a Morality Violation? Because I did!), it was both the right mix of interactive and fun.
Once your table was ready, you were seated – and even the table setup had lots of cool, futuristic nods to Taco Bell.
Up first was a “Joy Joy Hors D’Ouevre”, which was essentially a visual recreation of the Taco Bell from Demolition Man (but probably tastier, considering salt is still allowed in our world!). According to the official menu, “Masa Geometrics / Corn / Legumes / Funghi / Tomato Aspic / Onion Soubise / Avocado / Cilantro & Capsicum” – which is all a very fancy way of saying “corn chips with some toppings and a corn fritter ball”.
Up next was a “Crunchwrap Supreme Leader”, the Taco Bell 2032’s interpretation of, you guessed you, the Crunchwrap Supreme.
Then came the star of the show – the “Franchise Freedom Fries”. Taco Bell has brought back their Nacho Cheese Fries, and I’m legitimately not sure anything has ever tasted so good after a very long day of waiting in lines and shuffling around the convention. The “potato vessels” were served with bold Mexican spices and “cryo-capsicum”.
Your meal was wrapped up with a Cinnamon Helix Confection, which was essentially Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists, served in some sort of vanilla sauce and with a “cryo-berry” topping, and they were so good we may have spent some extra time trying to make sure we’d gotten all the sauce we could out of the bowl. And by “some extra time”, I mean “a lot of time”.
And, of course, no meal to a Taco Bell from Demolition Man would be complete without a stop to the bathroom – where, of course, the three seashells were displayed (both inside and outside of the restroom, to ensure everyone got to appreciate them in all their glory).
Taco Bell’s Demolition Man pop-up is going to become the stuff of Comic-Con legends, like Flynn’s Arcade and the Godzilla offsite before it. It’s the sort of “you had to be there, it was the coolest thing ever” thing that attendees will talk about for years to come – and we can honestly say that it was worth the hype.
The lines were often long, but once inside, you were transported into a whole other world – and the free food certainly didn’t hurt, either. Well played, Taco Bell. Well played.