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Friday, May 17, 2024

Quick! Aliens in Davis: Encounters UFO Xperience offers pop-up museum exhibit and dance club

 An inside scoop on the new family-friendly supernatural attraction in Davis

 

By KACEY CHAN — features@theaggie.org 

 

There has been renewed interest in UFOs, or Unidentified Flying Objects, in the news due to the U.S. Department of Defense shooting down three such phenomena earlier this month. Davis, however, was ahead of the UFO game with the arrival of a new attraction located in the University Mall. The normally quiet shopping center recently saw the opening of “Encounters UFO Xperience” — a new immersive exhibit and museum encouraging its visitors to “enter the world of aliens, UFOs and the Paranormal right next to UC Davis,” according to their page on Eventbrite

The man behind the unique attraction is Michael Sawicky. The 73-year-old Brooklyn native and U.S. Air Force veteran has believed in aliens all his life. 

“I’ve seen a couple of UFOs in my lifetime,” Sawicky said. “I saw one in Thailand in the service and then again in an oval-saucer shape in New Jersey 20 years later.” 

He worked in marketing in the entertainment industry throughout most of his career before settling in Vallejo, CA. Sawicky came up with the idea for the attraction after having seen another alien exhibit 10 years ago. While that exhibit was strictly focused on proving the existence of aliens, UFO Xperience takes a different approach. 

“I wanted to make it family-friendly,” Sawicky said. “I don’t want some kid coming in here only to be terrified by voice recordings or photos of alien abductions.” 

Sawicky said that there have been challenges of opening an attraction like this in Davis. 

“It’s a college town, so it can be tough during school breaks, and the University Mall isn’t a particularly popular site,” Sawicky said. 

However, he said he is optimistic about the exhibit’s stay anyway, citing the proximity to Trader Joe’s as a plus, along with the exhibit’s weekly EDM rave nights on Fridays and Saturdays. 

In the curation of the museum, Sawicky’s idea was to create an intersection between UFO and sci-fi pop culture. Visitors entering the museum will see this choice through displays of extra-terrestrial life alongside movie props from popular science fiction movies such as “The Terminator” and “E.T.” 

A unique display at the UFO Xperience is a giant, saucer-shaped UFO in the middle of the museum which visitors can climb into and take photos in. According to Sawicky, the UFO was actually a commission from a friend of his, who acquired a grant to have middle schools make the display by hand. These students also helped make other exhibits in the museum, including two amazingly large robot models located next to “The Terminator” weapons. The interactive UFO is a central part of the museum and is a nod to Sawicky’s all-ages approach. 

Another eye-catching display at the museum is one where visitors can stick their hand into an alien body’s abdomen to feel its “guts.” In reality, there is only a squishy toy at the bottom, but reaching into the dark hole provides a realisticly slimy sensation.

Sawicky understands the fanatical reputation alien culture has, but he said that he wants to remedy this through UFO Xperience by simply trying to encourage visitors to “broaden their minds.” 

“Would I want visitors to be convinced of UFOs after this exhibit? Yes, of course,” Sawicky said. “Sure, if the skeptics are convinced, that’s great, but I want to make people think about the plausibility of aliens and question what they know.” 

The UFO Xperience may also help bring out intrigue and curiosity amongst visitors — even if it doesn’t convince them that aliens exist.

“While I wouldn’t say I believe in aliens now, I loved being able to learn something new, and the exhibit is certainly something I have never seen before,” said Annanya Jain, a second-year biomedical engineering major. 

Initially planning to stay until February, UFO Xperience recently extended their contract until April 30. Until its closure, the museum has many events planned, such as a competition to earn a trip to Roswell, New Mexico, a city with a history of supernatural and alien activity. Tickets to enter the UFO Xperience are currently $15 a piece, but if fortunate enough, Davis residents can catch Sawicky standing outside the museum handing out “Buy one, get one free” deals on occasion. 

 Referencing the 1951 science-fiction film “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” Sawicky said he ultimately hopes for a benevolent encounter with aliens where they actually help human civilization work out their issues. 

“I think they’re there,” Sawicky said. “I think soon enough there will be a presence.” 

Written by: Kacey Chan — features@theaggie.org