The puzzle game, Plants vs Zombies, took the gaming world by storm with its unique blend of humor and challenge, earning it over 30 Game of the Year awards. Its popularity inspired the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare spin-off – a competitive shooter where two teams (Plants and Zombies) go head-to-head using comedic weapons and outrageous characters. A partnership between Plants vs Zombies and the Carowinds amusement park in North Carolina might seem like an unlikely pairing, but the two have come together to create a 3D “intra-active” Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare experience for families to enjoy.

The exclusive attraction, called the Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena, launches Spring 2016, and will feature 3D technology, massive screens, surround sound, and motion-based seats as attendees compete with each other in team-based battle. Furthermore, the attraction is expected to launch at around the same time the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 video game is, so attendees may continue the action at home.

[a]listdaily speaks to Mike Fehnel, Carowinds General Manager, and Senior Creative Director of the Plants vs. Zombies franchise Jeremy Vanhoozer to discuss how this unique partnership came into being.

What inspired the partnership between Electronic Arts and Carowinds?

MF: There’s been a great deal of innovation in the amusement park business over the past few years, including the introduction of interactive digital dark rides at Cedar Fair (Carowinds’ parent company) parks.  As the line between rides and electronic games continue to blur, tying together compelling gaming franchises like EA’s Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, with the larger-than-life attractions, like those at Cedar Fair’s parks, begins to makes a lot of sense.

How was Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare selected as the featured game?

MF:  EA and Cedar Fair started talking about a potential collaboration over a year ago.  At the same time, Cedar Fair and a digital attraction partner, Alterface, came up with the idea of a dueling “intra-active” gaming theater, where each side would compete against the other for high scores and bragging rights. Additionally, it was important to Carowinds that they find a brand with a broad demographic appeal and that parents and kids could enjoy together. At that point, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare became an obvious choice!

Is the Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare experience exclusive to Carowinds, or can we expect similar attractions to appear at different theme parks nationally?

MF: EA and Cedar Fair are currently developing two projects, the other one being an attraction based on the Mass Effect franchise at California’s Great America in Silicon Valley. Cedar Fair has theater facilities similar to those being used for these attractions across several of its parks.  So if these projects do as well as we think they will, there is definitely room to expand these concepts to other parks nationally.

How will the interactive attraction grow the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare brand and audience, and how does it tie into Garden Warfare 2 promotion?

JV: The Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare franchise is all about doing things differently and creating new and unique ways for people to experience our universe. We re incredibly excited to partner with Carowinds on this first ever intra-active attraction. This is a never-before-seen way for people who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the series to enter our crazy world of outrageous characters and over-the-top fun.

This attraction has very deep tie-ins to Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, the next big adventure from the franchise coming this Spring. We worked closely with Carowinds to ensure the 3Z Arena reflected the new state of the world as represented in Garden Warfare 2 for the first time, zombies have taken over and plants are on the attack. All players who participate in the attraction will also join the battle with brand new characters from the game including Super Brainz, a zombie super hero who thinks he s an 80’s action movie star, and Citron, a bounty-hunting orange from the future. From the setting to the characters, you ll really feel like you re stepping into the world of Garden Warfare when you enter the 3Z Arena.

EA has previously announced a partnership with California’s Great America for a Mass Effect attraction. Are there more EA game theme park attractions to come?

JV: There s no additional news there, but we re excited for these upcoming attractions.