With the pioneers of “Utopia” in desperate need of money to help them survive, it didn’t take long for them to decide letting the public into their compound for a nominal fee was the best and easiest way to make money.
That’s how the Utopia Experience was born. Zap2it Staff Editor Chris E. Hayner was one of those allowed to enter Utopia on Sunday, Sept. 28, to experience life with the pioneers and it was quite a day.
It starts the moment your group rings the bell at the front door. Fans were greeted by Mike and newest pioneer Ernesto, who collect your entrance fee and write out a receipt. Things inside “Utopia” are very professional, it seems. Everything needs to be documented.
Once inside the gate, the pioneers have gone out of their way to come up with a number of activities to keep fans entertained during their three-hour stay, including belly dancing classes with Dedeker and “hillbilly wine making” with Red. Unfortunately, Red was not present for Sunday’s event, after leaving the compound Saturday night for medical reasons. He has since returned.
With so much going on during the Utopia Experience, you might be surprised what the highlight was. No, it wasn’t Hex’s archery demonstration. Granted, it was actually very informative and a little terrifying, considering she’s a fantastic shot. Still, the opportunity to pick the brains of the pioneers packs the most entertainment.
From talking to Aaron about his real thoughts on Bella and her beloved water filter (the water tastes better but he doesn’t support the purchase) to hearing about Chris and Taylor’s plans to vacation together in Puerto Rico once the show ends, getting to know the pioneers on a personal level is quite a bit of fun. For the record, the boys Puerto Rica plans include surging and women, in that order.
There’s also Bella and her lessons on the proper care of the Moo-topians, which now includes baby calf Cash. Bella may not be the most … stable pioneer, but her love of the animal citizens of Utopia is enough to make anyone smile.
As for the compound itself, TV doesn’t do it justice. Granted, it looks incredible on the show, but standing on the dock of the fishing pond will make you wonder why someone wouldn’t want to live a simpler life there. It’s quiet, serene and breathtaking, everything you need in an escape. Especially when you have the ability to summon food trucks to move in for the day while fans are there.
Sunday’s experience was the first that saw food trucks enter the property, but for some reason the pioneers weren’t getting a cut of the sales. Whoever set that up needs a talking to about easy money. They didn’t even get a discount on the food, which most of them enjoyed at some point during the day.
Visitors also have the chance to buy unique souvenirs from their time at the experience, including original art and jewelry. The rings made by Hex were a big hit. If there isn’t one that fits, just ask her and she’ll sit down and make you one on the spot. Be prepared to spend $40 for one, though.
That is, unless you have something to trade. Since the idea behind “Utopia” is to create a self-sustaining society, the pioneers were more than willing to barter for goods and services. Among those visiting Sunday were a family who traded fresh produce for admittance into the compound. Meanwhile, a group offered Josh a hearty sum to gather the men of “Utopia” to recreate the “boylesque” show. They tentatively scheduled a repeat performance for another day.
In all, an afternoon at “Utopia” is a fun and eye-opening way to spend your day. What other reality series opens its doors to let the audience walk in and become part of the show? Now the pioneers need to follow through on some of the future business ideas they shared during the experience, including what could be a very fun Halloween event.