“Mr. Robot” Put A 100-Foot Coney Island Ferris Wheel Over Downtown Austin For SXSW

And Austin responded with Evil.

It’s no surprise that USA would go hard with Mr. Robot at SXSW this year–the show, which premiered at SXSW last year, turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the festival. And the on-the-ground marketing for season one tended to emphasize the show’s indie, street-hacker aesthetic–various other SXSW events found themselves ambushed by black-clad guerrillas holding signs that read things like “Who Is Mr. Robot,” but the big productions and massive activations were left to the bonafide hits.


But as the show has gone from scrappy underdog to solid contender for “best show on TV”–and as the world within Mr. Robot has changed dramatically, as well–so too has the show’s SXSW presence. To wit: This year, USA unveiled a much more robust experience by creating a replica of the Coney Island ferris wheel lumbering over downtown Austin, along with the nearby arcade that the fsociety hackers occupy as they plan their attempts to, er, eff society.

The activation includes the ferris wheel–which is hard to miss–as well as a working arcade full of ski-ball, air hockey, Frogger and Mortal Kombat 4 (and a winking “Mallard Murder” that’s out of order), and a meticulously crafted aesthetic full of crappy furniture authentically bought on the cheap from thrift stores. In addition, fans who want to take on some of the Mr. Robot branding for themselves can wait in line for an fsociety t-shirt screen-printed on site.

The Mr. Robot activation is one of the larger–or at least taller, with a 100-foot ferris wheel lurking over the city–installations to hit SXSW. It also caught the eye of the locals, too–at the U Ship location across the street, somebody printed up signs with the show’s E Corp logo and put ’em in the window, which the folks behind the activation insist they had nothing to do with.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.